As an eyewitness to history, as were so many other people during the rapid events that put an end to the Cold War; I want to pause for a moment and provide some perspective. On my first assignment to Spangdahlem Air Base (AB) from 1983-1987, the country was called “West Germany” and the Cold War was still underway. Yesterday, as I contemplated those events of 26 years ago on my first arrival to Spangdahlem AB in 1983, I considered for a short time to reference all of these postings during my time at Spangdahlem AB as “West Germany.” This morning I decided against doing that – even though it is historically accurate and recording the history of that time period is important to me. Today as so many young people have grown up only knowing Germany as a unified country, no one expects to see “West Germany” when Googling something on the internet when they search for German entries. So I decided it wasn’t appropriate to go backwards and refer to a phrase from long ago in our current day. The dates, 1983-1987, speak for themselves that it was a time during the Cold War and that is all that’s needed.
My focus for this blog called, “Life, Love and the Human Condition” is philosophical, autobiographical and historical – not political. My desire is to show the world how people should unite together to solve their various problems during the course of living together and sharing this planet called Earth. History speaks for itself when viewed through photographs, and sometimes it is important to have a visual reminder of how things were in the past in order to make steady progress in resolving the issues and concerns of today. These photos of West and East Berlin, taken back in either 1984 or 1985, speak to a different time and place – but show the steady day to day progress of personal contact and bridge building that takes place between people – so that through familiarity we all become more understanding of one another.
This tour of West and East Berlin provided us an opportunity to act as ambassadors of the United States of America to the people of East Berlin. We took a bus tour of East Berlin and besides just looking at the scenery, we stopped and visited a museum, a monument park and went shopping in East Berlin. During that time we saw the people of East Berlin and they saw us, and through this contact I believe we helped to break down the barriers between us – if only in a very small way. We observed a wedding party celebrating their big day and curious children on the street as in any other city around the world. For me this trip was instrumental in focusing my attention and belief that “people are people” wherever you go around the whole world – and working together in a positive and constructive way is the only way to bring us all together in common cause to improve this world we live it.
We also spent time walking around and shopping in West Berlin, and I loved exploring the city and dining out at night. So from these photographs from a quarter century ago that show how it was then, to returning to Germany in August of 1989 – in time to witness the events surrounding the fall of the wall, to knowing that today Berlin is the capital of a united Germany and celebrates the “Day of German Unity” as having occurred on October 3, 1990; I hope that a small part of my original trip to West and East Berlin a quarter century ago helped in some very small way to contribute to the vibrant and unified Berlin and Germany of today.
Once I finish posting my photos from my first assignment at Spangdahlem AB, I will work back through the articles to add captions to all of photographs. My thoughts of this visit to West and East Berlin give me pause to consider how important it is when anyone travels around the world to act as true ambassadors of their country in building bridges and understanding to the peoples of the world. 🙂