How I got scammed in Berlin!

How I got scammed in Berlin!

It’s summer!

And that means going on holiday/vacation.

I don’t know about you, but as soon as the sun comes out, my brain begins to fry and I’m not as alert as I ought to be.

As you know, I’ve been living in Berlin for more than seventeen (17) years, and it really is one of the best cities ever.

Is it safe to travel to Europe right now ‘cos I’m scared to travel abroad?

But it wasn’t always that way!

Yep!

My beloved Berlin used to be quite a different place back in the 90’s.

Back in the day, I used to go to the Love Parade every summer, and electronic techno clubs Berghain and Tresor practically every weekend!

In fact, the gentrified areas of Mitte and Prenzlauerberg in East Berlin (where I live) today, were quite trashy, horrifying, and in some places, even dangerous!

Hence, I lived in arty, grungy, student, alternative Kreuzberg in West Berlin.

Love conquers all. We had controlled rent, but we didn’t have a bathroom in Berlin!

My boyfriend and I lived in a huge rent-controlled apartment near the river.

It didn’t have a bathroom.

It didn’t have any heating.

Hauling up steel-buckets of coal every week in Berlin, wasn’t as romantic as this!
Hauling up steel-buckets of coal in Berlin, was more like this!

And I had to haul up steel-buckets of coal every week!

It was worth it though ‘cos we were living in a 19th century building, and my share of the rent in those days, was a mere €17.00 per week!

It took me just six (6) weeks to get a well-paid teaching job, and six (6) months later, I was the Head of not one Corporate Language School, but two (2)!

One day, I went to the bank to pick up some money for a summer-BBQ party that I was organising for all our schools in Berlin at the time, and on that day, I got scammed!

HOW I GOT SCAMMED IN BERLIN!

Scammers are everywhere through Europe!
How I got scammed in Berlin!

Woah there.

Tell us what happened?

I’m coming to it.

Hold your horses!

Well, I made a few mistakes that day, and really, I shouldn’t have been so gullible.

But I was.

MISTAKE NUMBER 1:

I went to the bank & collected loads of Deutsche Marks!
How I got scammed in Berlin!

I went to the bank, collected 500 Deutsche Marks or about €1,000. (Yep. it’s that long ago!) And then decided to go into “town” a mere 10 minutes away from my establishment.

I should have gone straight back to the office instead!

MISTAKE NUMBER 2:

Most sane people would run away. I walked towards it instead!
How I got scammed in Berlin!

I saw a large crowd gathering at the town square of East Berlin’s most popular tourist attraction – Alexanderplatz. And went to investigate what people were looking at.

Most sane people would run away if they saw a crowd.

I tend to do the opposite, and walk towards it!

I should have just kept on walking!

MISTAKE NUMBER 3:

There were some men playing a sort of cup game, where if you guessed right, you win!
How I got scammed in Berlin!

There were a group of men playing a sort of cup game, where if you guess which cup the dice or ball is under, you win.

I should have just minded my own business!

MISTAKE NUMBER 4:

I stopped to watch other tourists and lost all my cash!
How I got scammed in Berlin!

I stopped to watch the other “tourists” playing and “winning.” Each and every “tourist” that played won. I thought it would be a laugh, and I could easily “win” too!

To be honest, I don’t even know why I even bothered, as I’m not the gambling type.

I don’t play cards or games for money.

I don’t play scratch-cards.

I don’t play slot machines.

I don’t play bingo.

I don’t even play the lottery.

And I’m not in the habit of “playing” with my money.

I’m far too stingy!

The cost for each “go” was 50 Deutsche Marks or €100!

I gave the man the money.

And I lost it!

I should have just taken it as a done thing, and gone back to my office.

MISTAKE NUMBER 5:

I had quite a bit of cash in my purse. And lost that too!
How I got scammed in Berlin!

I didn’t.

I’m arrogant and stubborn.

I was so convinced that it was a “game” and that I could beat them.

I decided to “play” again.

I had quite a bit of cash in my purse, so I gave the man another 50 Deutsche Marks or €100!

I lost that too!

100 Deutsche-Mark banknote or €200 – © 2016 – 2018 Bank Note World

I was quite annoyed and convinced that something was up as I had looked quite closely, and didn’t take my eyes off the “cup.”

Now I’m not mad enough to spend more money, as that cash wasn’t really mine, and I would have to replace it once I got back.

And 100 Deutsche Marks or €200 was still quite a lot of money!

So I stuck around.

And watched really carefully.

And then I saw it.

I’m not entirely sure how it’s done. But what a scam!
How I got scammed in Berlin!

The “tourists” who had “won,” weren’t tourists at all!

They were friends and mates of the game organisers and were involved with scamming pretty much each and every legitimate tourist.

Not only that, but the guy issuing the cups somehow kept the ball in his hands so that all the cups were empty!

And if, like myself, you insist the cups be checked as evidence that the ball was actually still under one of the cups, the guy then dropped the ball under the cup, in the same motion as lifting it up!

I’m not entirely sure how it’s done.

But what a scam!

I protested, and asked for my money back, but they insisted that I leave their space.

And like I said, Alexanderplatz was a rough place in those days and I still had 400 Deutsche Marks or €800 in my purse, so just to be sure that I wasn’t being followed, I took a taxi back!

What an idiot and a fool I was!

And that was how I lost 100 Deutsche Marks or €200, just like that!

HOW I GOT SCAMMED IN BERLIN!

Images of Berlin Alexanderplatz.
How I got scammed in Berlin!

This article is not sponsored, and all opinions and stupidity, are my very own!

Stay tuned.

Yay!

That’s it for now.

For more of what to do if you’ve been scammed, and how to avoid it in the future, follow my blog!

You might be well-travelled, but you can still be scammed!
How I got scammed in Berlin!

Watch this space!

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond, WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

How I got scammed in Berlin!

Have you ever been scammed? Do you think I’m an idiot? Let me know in the comments below!

See you in Berlin.

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

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A Beginners’ Guide to the Berlinale / The Berlin International Film Festival 2018. Or any other Film Festival!!

Ed Sheeran at the Berlinale – Songwriter
© Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin

OMG!

It’s a little late, but since you’ve all been using my previous posts to get started, I don’t feel in the least bit guilty, ‘cos I’ve been on the go!

Go!

Go!!

I’ve told you before and I’ll probably tell you a million times over, living in Berlin is awfully fabulous!

I mean, there’s just so much to do!

I haven’t been back to Manchester for quite some time!

Only a few weeks ago I was telling you all about how I could afford to travel all over Europe, and using the train no less, as well as rambling through the English countryside, floating through Berlin Fashion Week, rushing through Bruges in Belgium, gaining Dual Citizenship ‘cos I’m a real British-German now, preparing for India, and exploring Hamburg on a press trip!

And just the other week, the Sputnik Kino put out all the stops to bring us the British Shorts Film Festival too!

Book your hotel here!

Robert Pattinson at the Berlinale – Damsel – What a sexy gorgeous bloke!
© Gerhard Kassner / Berlinale

And now, ladies and gents, the red carpet has been rolled out yet again, and Berlin has been hobnobbing with the best of the best. I mean, if it’s good enough for Bill Murray, Helen Mirren and Robert Pattinson. It’s surely good enough for you!

And why forsooth?

Because?

Because the 68th Berlin International Film Festival, otherwise known as the Berlinale, is in town!

Now for those of you interested in getting a piece of the action it’s quite easy.

Book your hotel here!

WHAT IS THE BERLIN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL / BERLINALE?

My press pass & bag at the Berlinale
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2018

Well, the Berlinale is simply, the world’s largest public film festival which provides an audience of interested film-goers, a city full of excitement, a diverse cultural scene, fascinating new films, up and coming artists, and an opportunity to see, talk to, and take close-up pictures, of international stars in the movie world!

The public programme of the Berlinale shows about 400 films per year, mostly international or European premieres of every genre, length and format! Formats such as epic international cinema (Competition), independent art house (Panorama), films for a younger audience (Generation), new discoveries and promising talent from the German film scene (Perspektive Deutsches Kino), avant-garde, experimental cinematography (Forum / Forum Expanded), “exotic” cinema from the Weimar Republic / post World War I historical black and white documentary filming (Retrospective), film classics / rediscovered films (Berlinale Classics), cult films curated by the Deutsche Kinemathek – Museum für Film und Fernsehen (Homage), films about food (Culinary Cinema), art house cinemas within Berlin (Berlinale Goes Kiez), cinematic story-telling of Indigenous people around the world (NATIVe – A Journey into Indigenous Cinema), new and extraordinary productions via the honouring of influential cinema personalities, and short pieces (Berlinale Shorts).

The Berlin International Film Festival is a source of inspiration in the global film community, encouraging the influx of film programmes, workshops, panel discussions, joint projects, and other creative outlets and networking possibilities via the European Film Market (EFM), the Berlinale Co-Production Market, the Berlinale Talents which introduces high-profile professionals to 250 promising young international film makers, the World Cinema Fund (WCF) which provides financial support to film projects in countries with weak film infrastructure, and the Berlinale Residency programme which offers international directors, financial support and funding to live in Berlin for a few months, and to start their next film project.

Yeah baby!

Book your hotel here!

Victoria & Wes Anderson. And a lady who accidentally photo-bombed us! –
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2018

And with more than:

  • 334,000 sold tickets
  • 21,000 professional visitors
  • 127 countries
  • 3,700 journalists
  • Art
  • Glamour
  • Parties
  • Networking
  • The Business of Film-Making

 

I’m actually in the video above. This was the first “star” Press Conference at the Berlinale, and I’m standing right behind the journalist who asked Bryan Cranston that super interesting question!

You simply can’t go wrong!

That’s right.

From the 15th of February to the 25th February, 2018, Berlin will be packed solid, with members of the film industry.

My heart swells and is almost fit to bursting, when I know that Berlin is competing with the likes of other film festivals, in Cannes, and Sundance.

Alright, not in the same category, but still.

In my opinion, a festival to be proud of!

With more than four hundred (400) films, fifteen (15) categories sections, and more than half a million cinema visits, the Berlinale is not only an independent film festival with a difference, but also a film festival that ordinary people can actually visit.

Book your hotel here!

Ordinary punters at the Berlinale. You know. People like YOU!
© Peter Kreibich – Berlinale Goes Kiez

Yes, that means YOU!

A world international festival can sometimes be daunting, so I’m going to try and make it as easy as possible, so that you too can participate. If you want to!

Read my beginners’ guide and find out how!

A BEGINNERS’ GUIDE TO THE BERLINALE / THE BERLIN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2018! OR ANY OTHER FILM FESTIVAL!!

Punters waiting to see Bill Murray & other stars, so be prepared & wrap up warmly!
© Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin
  • BE PREPARED: The Berlinale always takes place in February so get yourself on the mailing list of the Berlinale, so that you know when the official Berlinale programme is published.
  • USE THE INTERNET: There is a Berlinale homepage in both English and German. On the homepage is a Programme Section which also has a most valuable item called the programme planner. Use this item to search for films so that you have an idea of what you might want to see BEFORE the film festival begins.
Search for a programme at the Berlinale
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2018
  • GET THE PROGRAMME: If you’re not entirely sure what each film is about, you can either download the pdf format or if you’re in Berlin (and why wouldn’t you be!), you can pretty much find the programme brochures / publications in every cinema forum in the city. It’s free of charge. Just help yourself!
  • USE TECHNOLOGY: Not only can you use the programme planner for your personal searches but you can also get into the 21st century and, for the first time ever, download the Apps (for Android and iOS) which links into the programme planner so that you can mark your favourite film or event at home, or on the move, and still remain up-to-date across multiple devices. The app also provides Berlinale information about Press Conferences and Photo Calls, festival venues, festival events and an overview of festival video broadcasts, the Opening and Closing Gala, as well as all the fun on the Red Carpet!

Relax & check my social media feed about the Berlinale, on Twitter & Facebook!

  • USE SOCIAL MEDIA: The Berlinale is on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube – #Berlinale. You can also follow my Twitter titbits and little quips here! Not only that, but around the Potsdamer Platz Arcade, WiFi is available for 2 hours per day per person, and there are other WiFi hotspots scattered around in various venues. For free!
  • MAKE A LIST: Once you have a rough idea of what you want to see, go ahead and make a list. Don’t forget to put the date, the name of the film in it’s original language and in English, the venue, and the time. Then make a second list with different films. Just in case.
  • And a third one too!
Look at the packed crowd for the World Premiere of The Bookshop, at Friedrichstadt-Palast. Aim to arrive early!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2018
  • CHECK THE FILM TIME: People get really excited when punters finally get the film of their dream and then discover soon after, that they can’t actually watch it, ‘cos they’re still at a previous showing! Just because the film states a starting time of 20:00 doesn’t actually mean that it’s going to start at 20:00! Films start late, discussions over lap. Deal with it!

I find that putting films three (3) hours apart generally leaves more than enough room to manoeuvre. So, if for example, a film starts at 09:30, the next film I book is at 12:30 and not anything less! Most films tend to last between 80 and 100 minutes but you want to give yourself time for overlaps, and also for getting from A to B. Berlin’s public transport system is fantastic but you still have to wade your way through the crowds to get out of the venue itself, and then go downstairs to your next train station, not to talk of wading yourself through more crowds, at the next film venue!

  • LEAVE EARLY: Doors generally open 10 – 15 minutes before the film starts, so make sure you’re in the queue at least 20 minutes before the movie begins. If it’s a popular film, give yourself 30 minutes, as there is no allocated seating. First come, first served n’ all that!

No seat is a dud in my opinion, but if you have preferred seating, or want to get comfy with the new plush seats available in some cinema venues, then get there early.

Get your Berlinale film tickets in person!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2018

This means that you’re going to have to gird your loins, get all your mates together and be smart and efficient. Each individual can only buy 2 tickets per film, except for Generation (children / youth films) which you can buy 4 tickets at a time, and Culinary Cinema film screenings at 19:30, and you can buy as many as you like!

You can of course, cross your fingers and buy on the day if tickets are available at the box office of the cinemas themselves. Ticket counters open daily from 10:00 to 20:00, with people forming a queue from as early as 08:00!

Oh, and don’t forget.

For Same-Day tickets, only hard cash is accepted!

If you don't feel up to being with the rabble, not a problem, use your fingers and go online to buy tickets at the Berlinale instead!
If you don’t feel up to being with the rabble, not a problem, use your fingers and go online to buy tickets at the Berlinale instead!
  • BUYING TICKETS ONLINE: If you don’t feel up to being with the hoi polloi, not a problem, use your fingers and go online instead! On the programme page is an online ticket icon. If you click on it, you’ll be directed to the online ticket shop but be warned, the other buyers are keen film-goers and pros. at this game. You’ll need firm fingers to keep clicking and refreshing, in order to get those tickets. Or better still, allocate yourself an army of friends to help you.

You know how concert tickets sell out in 10 minutes? Yep! They use the same method. Friends! Mates! Neighbours! Everyone you know!

Grab a few friends to help you buy your Berlinale ticket!
Grab a few friends to help you buy your Berlinale ticket!

If you click on the Online Tickets icon, you will automatically be forwarded to the website of the Berlinale ticketing partner – Eventim. You’ll have to create an Eventim account with an extra processing fee of €2.00 per ticket. You can also use a major credit card and the tickets will be delivered to you either by Email, on your mobile phone, or you can simply pick the tickets up at the Online Ticket Pick-up Counter in the Potsdamer Platz Arcade shopping centre, by showing your printed confirmation and some sort of ID card.

There’s also an exclusive ticket counter, only for punters with MasterCard!

Book your hotel here!

Berlinale ticket prices are very reasonable! –
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2018
  • TICKET PRICES: Berlinale tickets are generally between €4.00 – €20.00! A 50% discount is available for selected last-minute tickets and of course, if you’re a student, of school age, on welfare, etc, then a 50% discount on tickets are available too.

If you register by telephone for Generation tickets, groups of at least 5 people or more, can buy their tickets at a cost of just €2.50 each!

Roll up! Roll up! Queue up & come & get your ticket!
© Peter Kreibich – Berlinale Goes Kiez
  • NO TICKET: If you still haven’t got the ticket you want, then go ahead and get any other film ticket instead!

The whole point of a film festival are the intriguing films that are made available. Every film has passed muster, and outside of your own personal preference, none of the films are duds.

Go on live a little!

If you’re still unsure, then go to the venue of your choice and either hold out a sign that you’re looking for an extra ticket, or look for individuals who might want to sell theirs. Don’t deal with touts though. If the individual looks nice enough and has 1 or 2 tickets rather than 20, and is willing to sell it at market price, or even cheaper, then go for it!

  • WATCH YOUR THROAT: After watching quite a few films, the throat does tend to take a bit of a beating as the rooms can get a bit dry, so arm yourself with water and cough drops. Take a scarf too, in case the air-con is at full blast!
A film industry and press-only conference – Isle of Dogs – Berlinale!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2018
A film industry and press-only conference – Isle of Dogs – Berlinale!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2018
  • PRESS: If you’re a press person, you should have been through the accreditation process and have your badge and Berlinale gift bag!

This year, a dedicated Press Screening Guide was made available. And it has been a godsend!

The press brochure / guide has information about press screenings, and other events that are available to accredited journalists and media representatives.

And I used the Press Screening Guide to the full!

Nevertheless, even press people have to organise themselves, as film tickets are only made available one (1) day prior, and so I found myself checking into the Grand Hyatt Berlin on a daily basis!

At 08:00 in the morning. Eeek!

Book your Berlin hotel here!

After a hard day at the Berlinale, surely I deserve a glass of champagne! –
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2018

On the other hand, free water, free coffee (Ouch!) free WiFi, a press room, comfy seats, and a quick means of getting all the press stuff and press tickets that you need, are provided.

Everyone has been so helpful and kind and because I’m now a pro. I also managed to get 99% of the film tickets that I wanted. However, on the very last film festival day, I ended up buying another ticket at the cinema box office, as press tickets were in limited supply, and I really wanted to watch the Generation 14+ film – Adam!

All in all, I pretty much got every film ticket that I wanted.

Thank you Berlinale Press Team!

River’s Edge by Isao Yukisada – Fumi Nikaidou & Ryo Yoshizawa
© River’s Edge Film Partners, TAKARAJIMASHA / Kyoko Okazaki
  • BE OPEN TO A NEW EXPERIENCE: I love going to film festivals and one of the main reasons is that in many cases, the films that you get to see at such events will never be shown at regular cinemas, or ever at all!

I mean, I hardly doubt that a weird film about a businessman who’s so burnt out, that he spends 14 days eating apples in a monastery in Burma, a mother and daughter who spend all day screaming at each other in Beijing, a black and white film about illegitimate foster children in 1920’s Germany, or an old couple who also happen to be traditional reindeer hunters, living all alone in the North Pole, is going to be shown at a local cinema near you!

I really don’t think so!

In my case, I aim for weird Asian films, obscure East European films, Anglo-American films with controversial topics, German films with a twist, and films over issues that I would never usually go for, ‘cos they’re just not shown at your local flick!

Ága by Milko Lazarov – Feodosia Ivanova & Mikhail Aprosimov
© Kaloyan Bozhilov
  • STAY FOR Q&A: The beauty of an international film festival or any film festival at all, is that everyone tends to be there. You get stars such as Bill Murray, Helen Mirren, Jeff Goldblum, Emily Watson, Bill Nighy, Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones), Robert Pattinson, Emily Mortimer (The Newsroom), Joaquin Phoenix, Rosamund Pike, Jim Broadbent, Tilda Swinton, Daniel Brühl, Mia Wasikowska, Liev Schreiber, Hugo Weaving and Ed Sheeran. Directors such as Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Idris Elba (Luther), Rupert Everett (The Importance of Being Earnest), Steven Soderbergh (the Ocean’s Trilogy), and other directors, producers, and actors.

In fact, everyone!

Helena Bonham-Carter sat behind me at the Berlinale,and I hadn’t even noticed, until she got up to go to the front of the stage!
© Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin

Four years ago, Helena Bonham-Carter sat behind me and I hadn’t even noticed, until she got up to go to the front of the stage!

Actors, directors and producers tend to go out to the front and apart from staring at them really closely, you can ask them questions about their films or their thoughts, surrounding that film. And being that this is Berlin, everyone’s really chilled and not freaking out, or going crazy!

Not inside the cinema theatre in any case.

Idris Elba – Director of Yardie – Zoo Palast – Berlinale
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Berlin – Feb 2018

If there’s a hottie on the red carpet like George Clooney, Richard Gere, Idris Elba, or Natalie Dormer, all that flies out of the window, and people start screaming!

I mean, it sometimes goes insane.

Natalie Dormer was here to promote Picnic at Hanging Rock, & all I could think of was Game of Thrones!
© Thomas Lobenwein – Berlinale Series

The actors are always calm, professional and charming (especially George, Richard, Idris, & Natalie. We’re on first name basis now of course..!) but the audience just lose themselves with star-lust, over-whelmingness, or the fact that film premier tickets can sell out surprisingly quickly, and not be found for love or money. If you didn’t know somebody, who knew somebody, who knew somebody, way up there, chances were, you wouldn’t get a look in!

The atmosphere once you get indoors, really is comforting and quite frankly, it’s nice.

Helen Mirren at the Berlinale. Because anyone who matters is here!
© Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin

And all for the price of a cinema ticket.

Less in some cases!

  • MAKE FRIENDS: Chat to the person next to you. Find your friends and partners and go for a well deserved late night drink!
We’re so chilled in Berlin. Bring your beer in at the Kino Casablanca. And make friends!
Berlinale Goes Kiez -© Peter Kreibich
  • TAKE ACTION: Now that you know what to do, go ahead and get yourself a film ticket, and do it all over again the next day!

See you at the Berlinale!

A BEGINNERS’ GUIDE TO THE BERLINALE / THE BERLIN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2018! OR ANY OTHER FILM FESTIVAL!!

Willem Dafoe receiving his Homage – Honorary Golden Bear Award at the Berlinale
© Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin

This article is not sponsored and even though I received press tickets, all opinions and the brilliant festival films that I chose, are my very, very own!

It’s February!

I have so much to share with you.

Next week, I’ll be reviewing the films that I saw at the Berlinale.

February is enjoyably rushed!

Catch me if you can!

Visitors and members of the press at the Berlinale
© Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond, WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

A Beginners’ Guide to the Berlinale / The Berlin International Film Festival 2018. Or any other Film Festival!!

Have you ever been to a film festival? What actor would you like to see on the Red Carpet? Let me know!

See you in Berlin.

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

If you like this post, please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!

28 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Berlin, I’ll never let you go!

28 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Berlin, I’ll never let you go!

It’s October!

In a few days, Germany will celebrate the Re-Unification of Germany, otherwise known as, German Unity Day or Der Tag der Deutschen Einheit!

This most important day will take place on October the 3rd.

October 3rd is a public holiday given to the German people to honour the Re-Unification of the two German States previously called the German Democratic Republic (GDR) or DDR (Deutsche Democratic Republic) otherwise known as East Germany, and the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) or Bundesrepublik Deutschland (BRD), otherwise also known as West Germany!

Me in front of a piece of the Berlin Wall & Street Art!

I cannot under-estimate how much I love this city.

I mean, I shout about it loud enough and it was just four (4) years ago that I introduced myself to you on this blog, when I wondered what the heck Berlin was all about anyway!

Oh yeah, and then I wrote a cheeky article which most people didn’t seem to get. And the title? Germany is Boring.

Oops!

I mean, what is the big deal?

Best German meals to try out in Berlin – Currywurst!

I’ll tell you what the big deal is my good man.

It’s the fact that the city of Berlin.

THIS city of Berlin.

Has been together in peace and harmony for 28 years.

That’s right.

28 years!

Book your hotel here!

28 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Berlin, I’ll never let you go!

WHY WAS THE BERLIN WALL SET UP IN THE FIRST PLACE?

The Berlin Wall after the opening of the Wall near Brandeburger Gate on November 11th, 1989!
@25 Archiv. Bundesstiftung Aufarbeitung – Uwe Gerig

It’s a little complicated but after WWII, Germany was split and divided by the allies as punishment for Nazi Germany. And you only had to look at the city of Berlin to see who the Allies were namely; Great Britain, France, USSR and the United States.

It was not long before arguments and squabbling took place in the international political arena and simply put, the Eastern and Western Bloc decided to go their separate ways, and an Iron Curtain ensued.

East Germany went one step further and built a wall in Berlin, cutting a line through the entire centre of the city!

This wall was supposed to prevent East Berliners and citizens of East Germany from fleeing to the West, but the Wall was unable to stop the mass of people from escaping. As a result, in 1961, the ruling Communist Party in East Germany began adding more border fortifications to the Wall, creating a broad, many-layered system of barriers.

In the West, people referred to the border strip as the death strip because so many people were killed while trying to flee.

I have seen this death wall myself as I live in East Berlin and not 10 minutes away, is the main local park called Mauer Park.

The suburb of Prenzlauerberg where I live, is now enormously trendy and gentrified, and if you’re “in,” or want to be “in,” you strive to live here.

However, let it be noted that “Mauer” in German, means “Wall.”

The Death Strip in now East Berlin but formerly French – Soviet Germany!
©Joyce, S. A.

With the downfall of East Germany in 1989, the Berlin Wall that the Socialist Party tried to use to maintain its power, also fell. The Fall of the Wall marked the definitive end of its dictatorship.

The Berlin Wall enclosed West Berlin from August 13, 1961 to November 9, 1989.

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STREETS ON BOTH SIDES OF THE WALL?

The Berlin Wall.
28 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Berlin, I’ll never let you go!

A couple of years ago, I wrote about one of my favourite places, and where I first lived in Berlin – Kreuzberg. You can read all about it right here! In my post, I mentioned that Kreuzberg had the Berlin Wall running right through the middle of it and that during the happy confusion, when the Wall actually fell, young people were leaving the East to go West, or leaving the West to go East!

In fact, I liked Kreuzberg so much that when I first made a documentary about being a British person in Berlin, we did the filming there!

OMG! Don’t I just look like a city babe!
©Pascale Scerbo Sarro

In Prenzlauer Berg where I live now, we’re about twenty (20) minutes from the original East-West border, and about ten (10) minutes from the first border crossing on the bridge of Bornholmer Straße. If you’ve ever since the videos where East Berliners were running through the border with everyone clapping and giving out free beer, it was that one!

I always take my friends to where the original wall used to be!

And let me tell you.

I always weep tears of joy because even though I wasn’t in Berlin when the Berlin Wall actually fell, living in Berlin means that I’m able to touch, see and sometimes smell, what it was like to live here pre-1989!

Potsdamer Platz today!
28 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Berlin, I’ll never let you go!

In fact, I can still remember when Potsdamer Platz was nothing more than wasteland and a piece of the border strip known as No Man’s Land. And looked like it too!

Not far off from Prenzlauer Berg, is a street called Bernauer Strasse, also known as Bernauer Straße!

Bernauer Straße as part of the Berlin Wall in 1961 – Frank Baake © Thomas Gade

As you can see, the Berlin Wall used to go right through it!

In fact, it was pretty horrid for all concerned, as you could actually see the other side of the Wall from your kitchen window, but you couldn’t go to the Western side without being shot!

Smashing through the wall! ©frizztext
Smashing through the wall!
©frizztext

Imagine the frustration, pain, and horror.

Many people tried to escape to freedom and found ways to be creative by sailing across in a hot air balloon, digging tunnels underground, pretending to have a funeral and lowering the “dead” person into a pit, hiding inside the seated lining of a Volkswagen car, etc. All for a life of freedom.

Not much of the Wall is left today, which was chipped off and destroyed almost in its entirety, however, three (3) long sections are still standing:

The Topography of Terror. You can still see parts of the Berlin Wall right behind it!
©Britta Scherer

An 80-metre-long (260 ft) piece of the first (westernmost) wall at the now Topography of Terror, but which used to be the site of the former Gestapo headquarters!

But obviously, the original building was razed to the ground.

The Berlin Wall, otherwise known as, East Side Gallery!

A longer section of the second (easternmost) wall along the River Spree near the Oberbaumbrücke in Kreuzberg / Friedrichshain, which you can see throughout the 1988 cult film Run Lola Run, otherwise known as, East Side Gallery!

Bernauer Straße in both East & West Berlin!
28 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Berlin, I’ll never let you go!

 

And a third section that is partly reconstructed, in the north at Bernauer Straße, which was turned into a memorial in 1999.

And of course, isolated fragments, lampposts, a few watchtowers, and other elements, remain throughout various parts of the city!

On the border between East & West Berlin in Germany.

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SO HOW DID THE BERLIN WALL ACTUALLY FALL?

It’s easy to forget Germany’s history!

It’s easy to forget that this situation was only 28 years ago. Most of you reading this blog, are probably older!

Let’s get some history!


2 May

Hungary begins dismantling the fortifications on the border to Austria.People demonstrate against the election rigging in front of the Sophienkirche (church).


7 May

Local elections in the GDR. Opposition groups prove that the results were faked. People demonstrate against the election rigging in East Berlin on the seventh day of every subsequent month.


4 September

First Monday Demonstration in Leipzig. 1,200 people gather outside St. Nicholas’ Church. Their demands include freedom of travel and democracy.


9 /10 September

New Forum’s initial call-out becomes a signal for change. Further grassroots movements follow.


11 September

Hungary officially opens its western border for GDR citizens, risking a breach in its diplomatic relations with East Berlin.


30 September

West Germany’s foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher informs the East German refugees in the Prague embassy, that they will be allowed to leave the GDR.


3 October

The GDR government bans travel to Czechoslovakia without passports and visas, to stem the mass exodus. Special trains transport people from the Prague and Warsaw embassies to the West, through the GDR. There are violent clashes with police along the railway line, as well as in Dresden.


7. October

On the 40th anniversary of the GDR, several thousand people demonstrate in Berlin outside the Palace of the Republic.  In numerous East German towns and cities, similar protests are broken up by force.


9 October

Despite fear of military repression of the Monday Demonstration, 70,000 people take to the streets in Leipzig. The police, military and civilian forces do not intervene.


11 October

The single ruling political party calls for people to stay in the GDR, offering a “dialogue” concerning the country’s further development.


16 October

The number of people at the Monday Demonstration in Leipzig doubles. The security forces do not intervene.


18 October

Erich Honecker is forced to resign after 18 years in office. Egon Krenz is made the new secretary-general of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED).


24 October

Krenz is also elected chairman of the State Council and the National Defence Council. 12,000 people demonstrate against his appointment in Berlin that evening.


30 October

300,000 people take part in the Leipzig Monday Demonstration.


4 November

The largest demonstration in the history of the GDR takes place in Berlin.


7 November

The government of the GDR, and the Council of Ministers collectively resign.


8 November

The Central Committee Politburo, the highest body in the GDR, resigns. West German chancellor Helmut Kohl links economic and financial aid for the GDR to three conditions: the opposition must be legalised, free elections must take place, and the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED) must renounce its claim to sole authority.


9 November

The Wall falls, prompted by a vague, but now famous, announcement of new travel regulations at a press conference. Tens of thousands of East Berliners rush to the checkpoints and force the border open.


22 December

The Berlin Wall is officially opened at Brandenburg Gate. The first concrete section is removed from its beams at 0.30 a.m.


23 December

The offices issuing passes for the GDR in West Berlin close for good. West Germans no longer need a visa, or have to change a certain amount of money, to enter the East.


1990 Chronology


31 August

The Unification Treaty is signed in East Berlin.


3 October

Germany celebrates the “Day of German Unity” also known as “Re-Unification Day.”


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28 YEARS AFTER THE FALL OF THE BERLIN WALL

Climbing up the Berlin Wall for Freedom! Freedom!!

It was the people who took to the streets en masse and courageously resisted a dictatorship, enabling both the Fall of the Berlin Wall and the Peaceful Revolution.

The 28th anniversary of the Fall of the Wall is important because Berlin will continue to invite locals, expats, eyewitnesses who were here, and people of the world, to participate in the anniversary celebrations, and to tell personal stories about the Berlin Wall.

Outside Bernauer Straße in Berlin. Everyone is going to be here!

Everyone is going to be here!

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ANYTHING ELSE?

Yep! The Festival of Lights!

The Berliner Dom / Berlin Cathedral
Festival of Lights ©Torsten Thiele

Once a year, Berlin’s world famous sights and monuments become the canvas for spectacular light and video projections.

From 06.10.17 – 15.10.17, the Festival of Lights will transform Berlin’s most famous landmarks and historical monuments through light projections and video art whereby different artists will light up the capital, and illuminate buildings in many parts of the city!

Not only that, but the Festival of Lights also includes various art and music events, photography workshops, open house opportunities at selected buildings, and charity events, as well as guided tours by bus, boat and on foot!

Most of the participating monuments will be focused on the city centre, and will be illuminated from 19:00 until midnight.

Every day!

For a full list of participating buildings, maps, and photographic displays, go to the official Festival of Lights website here!

WHAT IF THE BERLIN WALL ISN’T MY CUP OF TEA?

Two sides and periods, of the Berlin Wall.

As if!!

Keep reading my blog. There is more to come!

That’s it for now.

See you next week!

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28 YEARS AFTER THE FALL OF THE BERLIN WALL: BERLIN, I’LL NEVER LET YOU GO!

Beeeeerlin! I’ll never let you go!

This article is not sponsored and all opinions and the currywurst and bratwurst that I’m sure to be happily scoffing in the next few weeks, are my very own!

I have so much to share with you.

In the Autumn, I’ll be visiting the UK and travelling around the areas of Cheshire, Staffordshire, Manchester, Blackpool, Derbyshire and Yorkshire!

Yipee!

October & November is going to be smashing.

The Berlin Wall – 28 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Berlin, I’ll never let you go!

Watch this space!

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond, WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links, I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

28 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Berlin, I’ll never let you go!

Have you ever been to Berlin? Do you remember where you were when the Berlin Wall Fell. Where were you in 1989? Let me know in the comments below!

 See you in Berlin.

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

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