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
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.”