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Remembering Berlin

One traveler remembers what it was like to be in Berlin right before the wall fell in 1989. The Savvy Traveler's Hank Rosenfeld sent us this postcard on remembering Berlin.

Remembering Berlin
by Hank Rosenfeld

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Dear Rudy,

In 1989, just before the Wall falls, I'm doing a play over there in Germany with a bunch of Americans. We're part of The Magic Yeast Box Theater touring Leipzig, Munich, and Neu Brandenberg. And tonight I'm with our stage manager, Annette Keiss, a cute little Marxist from the Kreuzburg district of Berlin right on the border, and it's the "Nacht of the Blue Moon," one those summer festivals they do over there.


We're with hundreds of volks on this long green field behind the beautiful Teirgarten Park. There laying in the grass together, the Reichstag rising all misty behind us, and she tells to me the history of the capital building -- how in the 30's Hitler had his fascists burn the Reichstag down and then blamed the Communists. And Annette says in the clinch in this broken English she has: "You know Henk, you can die every moment."

I think she meant to say "at any moment," right? But this way "you can die every moment" I hear life, death, all of time, how it can be had in a moment, travel and timing and right then: Eternity in a moment. Like that Wavy Gravy mantra: "ETERNITY NOW, ETERNITY NOW!"

So we roll over and get up and ride bicycles along the Berlin Wall, all night, passing these East German border guards with their guns who wave down at us at dawn. And we get back to her dumpy little room in the Kreuzburg, and work out a little...angst for a while, until I hear a song come on her stereo, by The Replacements: "Go While You Can."

So I do. 'Cause I always do what The Replacements tell me to do. Best band in the world.

The wall falls

"Gooooo...while you cannnnnn..." Um...anyway, the next morning I get a day pass, and go across Checkpoint Charlie to East Berlin to see the great playwright Bertolt Brecht -- he's buried over there -- and I see a little German boy in short pants, suspenders, sandals with grey socks, standing in front of Brecht's headstone, and I'm thinking, incanting to myself: "Rise, Berty, rise! Rise again and change this young German, inspire this boy to change the world for the good!"

Four months later, November 1989, the Berlin Wall breaks loose, and you know what I think Rudy? The power of theater.

Then this past summer I get a postcard from Annette Keiss, with no return address. It just says: "Do you remember the Reichstag?"

Do I remember the Reichstag? "Re-mem-ber the Reich-staaaaag..."


Savvy Resources for the Berlin Wall:

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