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by Swen Thissen, staff writer

For almost 35 years, Berlin was the symbol of the Cold War. Today, the city is Germany’s capital. More than six million tourists a year are fascinated by its history and renovations.

After World War II, the city was divided into four sectors. The United States, the United Kingdom, France, and the Soviet Union each controlled one sector. Later, the three western parts were reunified, Berlin was still divided in East and West. In 1948, the Soviet dictator Stalin tried to squeeze the Western powers out of West Berlin by blocking land access to the city, which lay in East Germany. U.S. President Harry Truman, determined to avoid any Communist takeover, began an Allied airlift to fly supplies into the city.

On June 26, 1948 the Berlin Airlift—die Luftbrücke in German—began operation. Everything Berliners needed to survive, from groceries to gasoline, would come to them only by air.

The airlift lasted more than 15 months and cost more than $ 224 million. During the airlift, a U.S. or British plane landed every few minutes at Berlin’s Tempelhof Airfield and a second airport that had been built just for the airlift, today’s Tegel, Berlin’s main airport. In May 1949, the Soviet Union ended its blockade.

But the German separation wasn’t over. In 1961, the Soviets built The Berlin Wall. For almost 30 years, it was impossible to get from East Germany to West Germany. However, in 1989, The Berlin Wall came down. Germans from the western and the eastern country danced on the Wall and celebrated the sudden reunification. Many people could see their relatives after more than 40 years.
Today, Berlin is the capital of a reunified Germany. The history of the German separation is still visible. Parts of the Wall still exist.

Different memorials, some shown here, remind the 3.4 million people who live in Europe’s second largest city of Berlin’s history, and Germany’s. The eastern sections, controlled by East Germany and the Soviet Union, are distinguished by their general disrepair, a condition that is slowly being remedied.

Klaus Wowereit, Berlin’s popular mayor and one of the potential candidates for chancellor in 2009 or 2013, supports public funding of museums, theaters, and memorials, especially since these are things attract up to six million tourists to every year.

The city attracts visitors with its contrasts. The tourists can see new government buildings and old historical sights, including the famous Brandenburg Gate with its triumphal chariot, the Victory Column, and the Charlottenburg Palace.

Every year, the world’s biggest music event, “Loveparade,” attracts more than one million people who walk the streets, wearing crazy costumes and listening to electronic beats.

In June and July 2006, Berlin was the middle of the world of sports too. Millions from all over the world watched and celebrated the Soccer World Championship in Germany, in the stadiums and on huge TV screens throughout the city. The game between Germany and Italy alone attracted more than 1.1 million people to Berlin.

The city has 22 different universities and 133,249 students in total in 2006, many of them from all over the world. They enjoy the lively city and its different attractions.

Hiroshi Motomura, a law professor at the University of North Carolina, agrees. On the homepage of Berlin-Magazine.net, he posted this: “Berlin combines the culture of New York, the traffic system of Tokyo, the nature of Seattle, and the historical treasures of, well, Berlin.”


All photos courtesy Berlin.de

The Dome of Berlin, the city’s largest cathedral, offers museum-like galleries with Catholic art and artifacts.

New home of Germany’s Ministry of the Interior.

Berlin’s July Loveparade from the Statue of Victory to the Brandenburg Gate, in the background and below, annually draws about a million people.

The new Reichstag, home of the German Parliament.

he Dome of Berlin, the city’s largest cathedral, offers museum-like galleries with Catholic art and artifacts.


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