In the wake of the Wall

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From mid seventies till mid eighties Berlin was a second home for me, a pied-à-terre as the French call it or like a famous German song: Ich hab noch einen Koffer in Berlin.
I still have a suitcase somewhere in Berlin, I still have connections with the place, at least a lot of sweet memories. Unfortunate rail photography in those days was not my first interest, however, exploring I did, riding the S-Bahn and U-Bahn always been a pleasure. In West-Berlin the S-Bahn was exploited by the eastern DR – Deutsche Reichsbahn.
The U-Bahn by the BVG – Berliner Verkehrs Betriebe. The differences between the two were obvious, the latter a well organised system and needy maintained. The first more a must due to the course of history and absolutely not retained in a good shape, that’s to say; the way it looked, stations frozen in style and condition as they were before the war and perfectly reflecting the socialistic (communistic) approach.
The S-Bahn system in the East Sector – same state company – didn’t show something different only with one exemption; more riders. A lot of West-Berlin citizens boycotted the S-Bahn as a silent protest against building the Wall started on August 13th 1961.
For me using the S-Bahn in West Berlin always was a ride through the past. In East Berlin many things resembled what went before, their central guided economical system contrary the one conform the market, caused a lack of means and possibilities to modernize the nation on a large scale. Much remained kept in the state as it was on the day the DDR established (October 7th 1949). Germany as it looked before the impossible war started. During the DDR existence it would be dilapidated and became more and more grey, a paint less sight of façades with only the imagination what it must have been during the ‘Belle Époque’ period; Berlin a world city and all the decadence that comes along with it, a sallow glory.

Things of the tram

Berlin and the tram, a great network especially when including the three separate isle enterprises in the shadow of the city; Schöneiche, Woltersdorf and Strausberg.
For the tram only Berlin is worth the trip. However, when the DDR started erecting the Wall many tram routes were cut in two. In West Berlin this predicted the end for the system, in 1965 the last tram made his tour.
In East Berlin the tram survived, even better, new lines were constructed to the less golden new housing development in the outskirts of town. Prefab buildings in a furthermore rather dreary surrounding. After the reunification (1990) two lines were extended tot former West Berlin territory, one to Wedding and the other to the newly build Central Station (Hauptbahnhof). It’s the charm of lost lines and rail archaeology in the first place for this article. On the postcard picture above, shoot in 1964, the famous Brandenburger Gate standing on the boundary and completely sealed off. In front of it the former Parizer Platz with in the pavement some tram tracks as a souvenir of better times like on the first picture below in the early twenties. Through the gate trams never ran only buses. It was an extra ordinary happening walking under the arch for the first time after both parts of the city were unified. The last remains of the tram by that time all gone.

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About Robert von Hirschhorn

Author / Performer or in Dutch: schrijver / dichter
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