Chiseling Down the Wall – My Berlin Wall Memories

4 Nov

The first time I saw the Berlin Wall was the summer between my sophomore and junior year in high school. We had just moved to West Berlin because my Dad, who had been laid off from Pan American World Airways for 14 years, had unexpectedly been recalled…and sent to Berlin.

I remember when we got the news that we’d be moving. We’d known the assignment was to come through that day, so I’d made Mom promise to leave a message for me at school telling me where we’d be moving to. To my surprise, in the middle of algebra class, my teacher handed me a note. It read simply, “Berlin”.

Suddenly the world opened up for me. Visions of bratwurst, dirndls and Cold War spy movies filled my mind.

Clearly, I had no idea what I was getting in to.

By the time we’d moved into our apartment in the Dahlem district of Berlin, registered me for school in the US Department of Defense-run Berlin American High School, and learned to avert my eyes when walking through city parks where there were clothing-optional volleyball games in progress, I felt like I’d aged about a million years from that day in algebra class. West Berlin was not what I had expected.

It was better.

With the exception, of course, that every aspect of life was controlled by The Wall.

My mom and cousin Eleanor banging out their bits of the wall.

My mom and cousin Eleanor banging out their bits of the wall.

Living in the city, going about my daily life, I didn’t give the wall much thought. But whenever a sports team or, in my case, the Drama Fest team, had to go to another West German city for a competition, we had to climb aboard the Duty Train (the nightly military train that took soldiers and their families across East Germany in the dark) with the window shades pulled, so that no Westerners could see the glory that was the DDR, the Deutsches Democratic Republic of Germany.

It was impossible for civilians to ride this train, except in the case of students like myself, so I’d come with an armload of special papers while my military-dependent friends could pretty much just hop onboard. The Duty Train was really the only way out of the city apart from flying. There were day passes available to military dependents to enter East Berlin, and as civilians we could enter the East through Checkpoint Charlie, but there were many rules and curfews required if you did so.

One of the rules was that you weren’t allowed to take any paper money – East Marks – back into West Germany. My uncle (when he and my aunt visited us one Christmas and we all went into the East) chose to be stubborn rather than spending his leftover marks. He opened an East German bank account with his ten marks…the equivalent of less than five dollars. I suppose the account still exists, though it’s more likely that the bank itself dissolved with the fall of the wall.

The gate that December.  Note the Soviet flag still flying.

The gate that December. Note the Soviet flag still flying.

Another rule about crossing into East Berlin was that civilians couldn’t drive their cars. This meant that whenever we wanted to go there – which was only twice for me – we were required to walk through Checkpoint Charlie and be scrutinized by the East German guards.

This wasn’t too big of a deal, but it took awhile, depending on whether the guards felt like opening the window or not, and on how long the lines were. Both times I visited they glanced at my passport and waved me through. Both times my mother, however, was scrutinized. She must have looked like she’d be easily intimidated. She would stand there, trying to look cross and aloof, but probably the shaking of her hand as she handed over her passport gave her away. I actually wanted to be scrutinized. I thought it would be fun. But no, they picked on Mom instead.

I disliked visiting the East. Oh, it was interesting seeing Alexander Platz and visiting the Russian-run department store, but it was a gloomy place, a gray place. The above-ground subway, the S-Bahn, gave a shrill whistle at every stop which always gave me a headache, and seeing the windows of the houses that faced the wall literally boarded up and seeing the guards with their guns patrolling no-man’s land and their guard towers and their utter disdain for us westerners was a little off-putting.

Of course, never far from one’s mind when visiting East Berlin, was the fact that you could leave…and every single person you saw around you could not. Well, they could go into the rest of East Germany, but they certainly couldn’t go into the west.

(By the way, if you ever get to Berlin today, the Checkpoint Charlie Wall Museum (Mauermuseum) is a must-see. It tells the story – and often preserves the means – of the many escapes and escape attempts that were made in the 27-year existence of the wall. There is little more humbling in life than to realize how you’ve taken your freedom for granted.)

I remember one time going to a fair and riding a Ferris Wheel that was set up right alongside the wall. Every time we reached the apex of the wheel ride we could see over the wall and into the streets and lives of the East Germans on the other side. I felt like a bird must feel. Only birds have the right to fly anywhere they choose. Even they had more freedom than the East Germans.

A hole in the wall...with the "Pope's Revenge" in the background.

A hole in the wall…with the “Pope’s Revenge” in the background.

I visited the wall several times while in my two years in Berlin. Usually we’d take the U-Bahn, the underground, to the Reichstag (now the Bundestag) and get out there, walking the short way to the Brandenburg Gate. My mother and I did that when President Reagan came to speak at the wall, in the spring of 1987. We had signed up for tickets, which we clutched, along with our passports and civilian ID cards, as we joined the line which snaked back and forth for row upon row.

There were three checkpoints along the way, all manned by West German guards. I handed my pile of documents to the first. He glanced down, prepared to wave me forward, then gave a snort. A snort which could only be called a laugh.

He looked up at me. “Gretchen?” He asked.

I nodded, confused.

Then, with another laugh, he handed me my papers and waved me on.

I shuffled forward, uncertain and a little perplexed.

At the next checkpoint, it happened again.

Papers handed over, name read, guard guffawed. Only this time he called over his friends to add a little humor to their day as well. “Gretchen!” he said, lending his German pronunciation to my name. “Ya, ha ha!” his friends agreed.

As I approached the third and final checkpoint, Mom and I prepared ourselves for the laugh fest.

I handed my documents over and, sure enough, the guard smiled and chuckled.

“It’s my name, right?” I asked. “Mein namen?”

“Ya,” the guard replied. “Das ist ein kinder namen.”*

A name for children.

Fine. Whatever. Give me my passport, please.

And then, after taking our place in the standing crowd and seeing East German guards staring down at us from the top of the Brandenburg Gate with rifles slung over their shoulders, the president appeared. When I looked back up, the soldiers were gone.

“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,” President Reagan said. And I laughed a little, inside, at the absurdity of the thought.

Turns out I was the who was absurd. And I’m so glad.

A not-very-good shot of President Reagan speaking at the wall.

A not-very-good shot of President Reagan speaking at the wall.

I was in college back in the States on November 9, 1989 – 25 years ago this month – so I wasn’t there when the wall actually opened up, but I went back several weeks later for Christmas. My parents and my cousin Eleanor (who was visiting for Christmas) and I took the U-Bahn to the Brandenburg Gate, bringing a hammer and chisel with us to claim our small piece of history. The crowds had thinned greatly from the initial days after the opening of the wall, but there were several people there, chiseling and hammering and swigging from bottles of wine.

We approached a large hole in the wall and gazed through into the former No-Man’s Land, the place of such loathing and horror in the past. An East German guard, still patrolling but unarmed, walked up on his side of the wall and smiled at us. He was still wearing his uniform, complete with Russian-style fur hat with the ear flaps folded up.

In broken German, Eleanor struck up a conversation with him and he replied amiably, smiling all the while. We were making friends with a man who, only weeks ago, would have had orders to shoot us.

Eleanor and the guard, in an unprecedented cultural exchange.

Eleanor and the guard, in an unprecedented cultural exchange.

I went back to Berlin a few years ago, walked through the Brandenburg Gate, saw the renamed Reichstag and the US Embassy abutting the Gate itself, stayed in a Hilton hotel in the former East Berlin. Such decadence in the city that had been so dreary!

The Brandenburg Gate from the East, taken in 2012.  The US Embassy is the building to the left.

The Brandenburg Gate from the East, taken in 2012. The US Embassy is the building to the left.

Every moment of my time there was surreal. It was beyond fantastic to see the city I had come to love as it was meant to be. A unified whole.

PS – I know that reunification wasn’t all easy, what with broken Trabants on the autobahn and sales of pornography skyrocketing (blue jeans and bananas rounded out the top three most-bought items by the East Germans). But still, reunification brought about the ultimate end of World War II (the end of the Allied Occupation in the city) and the end of Germany’s split personality, so to speak. And while it might not have been easy, it was, in the end, Sehr Gut.

*My apologies if my German is incorrect!


152 Responses to “Chiseling Down the Wall – My Berlin Wall Memories”

  1. Minnesota Prairie Roots November 4, 2014 at 2:23 pm #

    What a story, to have lived there, to have been a part of history…what memories which make one grateful for freedom.

  2. hotlyspiced November 4, 2014 at 2:27 pm #

    What an interesting story, Gretchen. How fascinating to have been involved in such monumental events in Germany. I have never been there but of course at school we studied a lot about Germany, the lives of those in the East and the West and of course all about WWII. xx

    • Gretchen O'Donnell November 4, 2014 at 4:07 pm #

      There’s a lot of history in Germany, that’s for sure! I love Berlin. I have a feeling I’d love where you live, too, though!

  3. Laurie (Morrill) French November 4, 2014 at 3:14 pm #

    WOW!! Thanks for sharing! I’ve never been out of the US so that was very interesting to me. I know your Mom and Dad. I can picture them there too.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell November 4, 2014 at 4:09 pm #

      It was definitely all very interesting, yes. Mom looks pretty different from the photos of her here but I’m sure you recognized her!

  4. Tami Scott November 4, 2014 at 6:57 pm #

    If you can believe it, I still have the piece of the wall you gave me, some 25 years ago!

    • Gretchen O'Donnell November 5, 2014 at 9:39 am #

      Yay! It’s worth something now, that piece of history! They sell for like 30 Euro for a tiny piece!

  5. treadlemusic November 4, 2014 at 7:31 pm #

    It’s always so good to read your posts and this story is a fave of mine…..especially the part with the guards and your name. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and memories. Hugs……..

    • Gretchen O'Donnell November 5, 2014 at 9:40 am #

      Thank you! You’re right that I’ve shared it before in a different post. I’m glad you didn’t mind it twice!

      • treadlemusic November 5, 2014 at 12:53 pm #

        It has such deep meaning from a perspective that I cannot even imagine that I cannot help but be enriched with reading it….many times!!!!!!!

  6. Betsy Patton November 4, 2014 at 9:07 pm #

    Thanks, Gretchen. That was so good. I was amazed while reading, how little had changed from when I was in Berlin in 1964. At that time, the wall was still being built — most composed of boarded-up buildings — but the protocol of going through Checkpoint Charlie and being intimidated by the Volks Pols was the same. My recollections of the night train with shades drawn gave me goose bumps.

    Did you visit the Soviet Garden of Remembrance? On our bus tour (the only way we could cross over to East Berlin) it was one of the required stops. So dreary and depressing.

    Thanks for your essay. The pictures were neat too. Love, Auntie B.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell November 5, 2014 at 9:43 am #

      Thanks Aunt Betsy! Interesting about the train not changing at all! No, we didn’t see that garden. Sounds as depressing as the rest of the eastern side. And can’t you just picture Mom being intimidated by the guards?!

  7. Gwen Stephens November 5, 2014 at 4:53 am #

    What a fantastic story to commemorate the anniversary of the Wall’s destruction. It’s hard to believe the cosmopolitan city that exists today had such an ugly history, but just reading the now foreign-sounding West Berlin conjures ominous images. Thanks for sharing, and great to see you back in the blogging world.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell November 5, 2014 at 9:45 am #

      Thanks! I still need focus for the blog but I’ve not given up. Yes, it is funny to hear “west” in front of Berlin now, isn’t it? And that’s a good thing!

  8. uniyak November 9, 2014 at 7:06 pm #

    Wow this is interesting it must have been fun writing such an interesting memory thank you for sharing

    • Gretchen O'Donnell November 9, 2014 at 7:32 pm #

      It definitely was fun thinking about it all again, and pulling out my photos, even though none of them are very good! Thanks for stopping by!

  9. jasonanderson3 November 9, 2014 at 7:48 pm #

    Reblogged this on jasonanderson3's Blog.

  10. 360 Days of Beauty November 9, 2014 at 7:56 pm #

    Reblogged this on 360 Days of Beauty.

  11. Amy Breeman-Rhodes November 9, 2014 at 8:11 pm #

    Reblogged this on BreemanRhodes Consulting LLC.

  12. Jim Grey November 9, 2014 at 8:20 pm #

    Thanks for sharing your memories! I saw the Wall in 1984, got to spend some time in East Berlin even. I was 16. It was a life-changing event.

    I remember waking up one November morning as a young adult, turning on the radio, and learning that the Wall had fallen. It was a very emotional moment.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell November 9, 2014 at 8:41 pm #

      Yeah, to be a kid that age and to see life so different from your own is indeed eye-opening if not life-changing for sure! It’s almost impossible to imagine the world with a walled city like that now, isn’t it? Yes, very emotional for sure! Thanks for your comments!

  13. iledevix November 9, 2014 at 9:15 pm #

    Thanks for letting us relive a piece of history through your photographs and words. 🙂

    • Gretchen O'Donnell November 9, 2014 at 10:35 pm #

      I’m so glad we could relive it together!

      • iledevix November 9, 2014 at 10:38 pm #

        Ah, I was not born yet. I meant to say to “for giving us a piercing glimpse and account of the history of the Berlin Wall”! 🙂 Have a good day.

  14. Patrick "Bucky" Vallo November 9, 2014 at 10:16 pm #

    Incredible story. I loved it. Thanks for sharing.

  15. jasonanderson3 November 9, 2014 at 10:28 pm #

    Gretchen, I love this kind of writing. Telling your personal narrative, your personal experience, in the context of the larger event. Not attempting to assign some grandiose meaning. Simply recalling the small moments as you lived through a moment in history. You really took me to Berlin in the late 80s. Wonderful writing. Thanks for sharing your story with us.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell November 9, 2014 at 10:38 pm #

      Thank you so much. I am not good at grandiose meaning…but I am pretty ok at just telling my story. Thanks for the encouragement and assurance that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.

  16. sheetal November 9, 2014 at 11:49 pm #

    Really awesome!!

  17. celliawijayaa November 9, 2014 at 11:59 pm #

    Reblogged this on celliawijayaa and commented:
    Berlin good bye

  18. paturnerlee November 10, 2014 at 1:05 am #

    Thank you beautiful writing

  19. reema7362 November 10, 2014 at 1:08 am #

    Reblogged this on reema7362's Blog.

  20. Lyla Michaels November 10, 2014 at 1:08 am #

    Reblogged this on Conversations I Wish I Had.

  21. teilzeitanarchistin November 10, 2014 at 3:57 am #

    Greetings from Germany!
    I was born there ten years after the Mauer was opened, so I only know Berlin as one city. Thank you for sharing your memory.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell November 10, 2014 at 7:25 am #

      Hello! You grew up in a different country than the one I lived in for two years! I love Berlin – thanks so much for your comments!

  22. oloksy November 10, 2014 at 4:29 am #

    Reblogged this on oloksy.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell November 10, 2014 at 7:24 am #

      Thanks for the reblog!

      • oloksy November 10, 2014 at 8:51 am #

        U welcome … Can u re blog mine

        • Gretchen O'Donnell November 10, 2014 at 9:39 am #

          Yes! I’m running slow here today and hadn’t done that yet but I will right now!

  23. aanesii November 10, 2014 at 4:30 am #

    Reblogged this on aanesii.

  24. aanesii November 10, 2014 at 4:31 am #


  25. Kathryn E. Davis November 10, 2014 at 5:37 am #

    Incredible story, & to be a part of history. I have always wanted to go to Germany & see where my Father’s family was from.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell November 10, 2014 at 7:23 am #

      Thanks! If you want “traditional” Germany, Berlin isn’t necessarily the place to find it, but it’s a fantastic city and I’d recommend it to anyone!

  26. jclgodoy November 10, 2014 at 7:42 am #

    Reblogged this on Just Quotes.

  27. sopnohinboy November 10, 2014 at 7:48 am #

  28. lenouveaublog2014 November 10, 2014 at 8:10 am #

    Great post

  29. abdul2701 November 10, 2014 at 9:46 am #

    Remember the wall, constructed by Israeli.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell November 10, 2014 at 3:49 pm #

      There definitely have been – and continue to be – other difficult walls in the world.

      • abdul2701 November 12, 2014 at 9:57 am #

        Thank u sir for the acceptance.

  30. jnewworld November 10, 2014 at 10:47 am #

    Reblogged this on jnewworld's Blog.

  31. Leonie November 10, 2014 at 10:57 am #

    What a great post! I absolutely love reading stories about my country’s history 🙂 thanks for sharing!

  32. dalaliix09 November 10, 2014 at 11:23 am #

    it was great reading about this historical event from someone who’s witnessed it.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell November 10, 2014 at 3:44 pm #

      Thank you! There’s not a lot I have witnessed of historical importance but I guess one big thing is enough!

  33. maqdus November 10, 2014 at 12:01 pm #

    The Wall of Berlin has now become history, I wonder you are the lucky person to enjoy the day

  34. Keith Ainsley November 10, 2014 at 12:05 pm #

    Reblogged this on Keith's World.

  35. Bernice Nelson November 10, 2014 at 3:45 pm #

    Really lovely! Thank you for sharing 🙂

  36. Shakil Akhtar November 10, 2014 at 4:06 pm #

    hope we chisel the wall in West Bank too some day!

    • Gretchen O'Donnell November 10, 2014 at 5:11 pm #

      Someone else mentioned that, too. It’s definitely something to hope for.

  37. GPJoa November 10, 2014 at 8:43 pm #

    Reblogged this on Life in Ottawa and commented:
    I still remember Reagan asking for the wall to be taken down. A definitive point in history.

  38. ashleyperez182 November 11, 2014 at 2:47 am #

    Reblogged this on ashleyperez182.

  39. Valent Lau November 11, 2014 at 5:34 am #

    I was too young to understand it, but I remember seeing the wall go down on TV and knew it was something important

  40. rumjam November 11, 2014 at 5:58 am #

    My minds made up. Will visit for sure

  41. mustaphabarki2014 November 11, 2014 at 9:24 am #

    Reblogged this on Ninja Networking Engineering by Barki Mustapha .

  42. mustaphabarki2014 November 11, 2014 at 9:40 am #

    Reblogged this on Engineer Marine Skipper.

  43. Jean November 11, 2014 at 9:44 am #

    My German-Canadian partner immigrated to Canada when he was 7 yrs. He has kept in contact with relatives in both West Germany and former East Germany. At the time just after the Wall fell, actually things weren’t that rosy. Some of the East Germans didn’t want to adopt the free capitalist lifestyle. West Germans didn’t want job competition from the East German.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell November 11, 2014 at 11:12 am #

      Yes, I remember hearing about the stresses. I could have written so much more but it was too long as it was! Interesting that you have a first-hand connection to both East and West Germany. I bet it’s fascinating to talk with them about it all.

      • Jean November 11, 2014 at 1:16 pm #

        Keep in mind of course, I also have relatives who immigrated from Communist China. They had to learn how aggressively and hard it is to work in Canada.

        The similarities of political economy existed way back between Hong Kong and Communist China. And now, it’s not a happy situation when long time Hong Kongers saw the reality of trying to be pro-democracy oriented.

        My partner believes that the fall of Wall was all planned deliberately between West and East because the police border guards were ruthless in capturing and shooting people escaping over the Wall. Just like Chinese border guards that shot people swimming to “freedom” to HK before China took back Hong Kong.

        So for the Stansi to suddenly stop their duties couldn’t have just “happened”. There were orders to them. But all we saw in the West, was the illusion of people’s movement, removing wall bricks. Kinda token and silly when you think about the lives lost escaping over the Wall and the spying that happened on both sides of the Wall.

        I think in North America we’re very protected ..psychologically and politically.

  44. Erica Herd November 11, 2014 at 10:03 am #

    Interesting story, Gretchen. I remember when the wall came down. I lived in Germany from 1990-91, teaching on a Fulbright scholarship. Lots of East Germans flocking to the West. Thank you for sharing your experience and the photos.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell November 11, 2014 at 11:10 am #

      My parents moved back to the States in 1990 and I hadn’t been back until four years ago – so many changes! I missed all the turmoil of the change. I’m sure it was fascinating to see that occur. Thanks so much for your comments!

  45. Karl Drobnic November 11, 2014 at 1:18 pm #

    I watched it on TV. The internet was rather clunky back then and given to bulletin boards. There wasn’t much visual. I think I was using Compushare at the time. The “www.” hadn’t been invented yet. Cell phones were around, but big, expensive, and they didn’t have cameras. So TV was the best option. I remember a lot of short interviews by TV newscasters featuring very happy, widely-smiling German youth. It looked like an immense party. I’d recommend viewing “The Lives of Others” if you want to get a feeling for why the Germans were so happy.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell November 11, 2014 at 1:47 pm #

      I bet that’s interesting. Yes, there was a lot of happiness followed by some stress, but it was mostly all good!

  46. Annabel November 11, 2014 at 3:32 pm #

    Wow what a lovely story and what memories! I have a friend from Berlin and she’s promised to take me there next year and reading this has made me look forward to it more 🙂

    • Gretchen O'Donnell November 12, 2014 at 6:31 am #

      Oh, I’m glad you get to go visit! It’s such a cool city. If you can go around this time of year or even closer toward Christmas, Germany is an even more fun place to visit!

  47. subinraj November 11, 2014 at 11:46 pm #

    I like d way u describe it

  48. Janie Baer - "Let's Talk Self Defense!" November 12, 2014 at 7:14 am #

    I truly enjoyed your post. I just read today of Thanking our Veterans for their service and do we realize what they do for us. Your post fit right in to help me even appreciate our Freedom even more. Did you ever find out why your name Gretchen was funny?

    • Gretchen O'Donnell November 12, 2014 at 10:18 am #

      Yes, the two topics definitely compliment each other, don’t they?! They laughed at my name because it’s a name for little girls, a nickname from the name Greta (literally “little Greta”), so when they’d be teenagers they’d be Greta and leave the “chen” (a diminutive) behind!

  49. mjtierney1 November 12, 2014 at 8:56 am #

    Great story! Thanks for sharing it. I was an exchange student in Germany in 1981-2 and made several trips to E. Berlin and the DDR. I was back in the states when the wall fell in 1989. When I finally made it back to Berlin a decade later, the changes were unbelievable!

    • Gretchen O'Donnell November 12, 2014 at 10:15 am #

      Yes, it is unbelievable and surreal, isn’t it, to see the city as a whole. When I visited 4 years ago I couldn’t stop exclaiming over the wonderfulness of it all!

  50. virtuallyventing November 12, 2014 at 3:09 pm #

    “It doesn’t matter how high the barriers will be, they will fall. Like the Berlin Wall fell – The Palestinian wall will fall,”

  51. salvator900 November 12, 2014 at 10:34 pm #

    This kind of embassy I love to build okay

  52. az2278933 November 13, 2014 at 11:06 am #

    Where are you from

  53. frecklesm November 13, 2014 at 11:36 am #

    Reblogged this on Beneath the Veils.

  54. mattthomas444 November 13, 2014 at 10:21 pm #

    Very cool post.

  55. mohmadali November 14, 2014 at 12:42 am #


  56. Kate November 14, 2014 at 7:01 am #

    Great read!

  57. hamadurrehman November 14, 2014 at 11:29 am #

    Reblogged this on my health and fitness and commented:

  58. mermaidraegan November 14, 2014 at 7:17 pm #

    Reblogged this on mermaidraegan.

  59. Anna (Film Grimoire) November 14, 2014 at 7:45 pm #

    What an amazing story, it’s so interesting to hear it from a child’s perspective. Thank you for sharing!

  60. J Roycroft November 14, 2014 at 8:00 pm #

    In 1960 my father left Korea and reassigned to Berlin. By Sept 1960 me and my mom had joined my father and were living in Andrews Barracks, Berlin. We stayed there until 1962. Memories of the Berlin Wall when it was just a fence and gradually a block wall are some I will never forget. Nothing though was more frightening as a 6 year old than riding on the train at night crossing into East Berlin, peeping out the curtains and seeing soldiers armed with machine guns along side the train tracks. Hearing the stories through the months about the people that were shot dead during the night by soldiers during their attempted escapes to be with their loved ones on the other side of the wall. So many memories and stories to tell. So glad the wall came down.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell November 16, 2014 at 3:29 pm #

      Wow, great story! I can imagine for sure, the fear in a 6 year old seeing all of that. Thanks so much for sharing your memories!

  61. tlouise012 November 14, 2014 at 8:19 pm #

    Reblogged this on tlouise012.

  62. vriddachalam November 14, 2014 at 11:41 pm #


  63. xbox155 November 15, 2014 at 2:47 am #

    Fascinating read not normally my thing but written so well, what a great memory to have.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell November 16, 2014 at 3:27 pm #

      Thanks so much – I love that you enjoyed it especially if you doubted at the start! 🙂

  64. laschicas22 November 15, 2014 at 3:46 am #

    Reblogged this on lasbonitachicas.

  65. quinnjones2 November 17, 2014 at 12:53 am #

    Reblogged this on yieldingtothewind and commented:
    Prima! 🙂

  66. comas30 November 18, 2014 at 10:01 am #

    Reblogged this on comas30 and commented:
    Dzieki polakom niemcy moga cieszyc sie wolnoscia,i byc szczesliwi wraz ze swoimi rodzinami

  67. lablondenaturelle November 19, 2014 at 10:02 am #

  68. Senatssekretär FREISTAAT DANZIG November 24, 2014 at 3:54 pm #

    Reblogged this on Aussiedlerbetreuung und Behinderten – Fragen.

  69. Krysta Lynne November 28, 2014 at 6:12 am #

    Great memoir, thank you so much for sharing! My grandfather also traveled to Berlin shortly after it was torn down, with a hammer and chisel, to bring back three pieces of the wall for his three children. He travelled a lot, but seeing that bit of history was one of his happiest travel memories I think!

    • Gretchen O'Donnell November 30, 2014 at 5:57 pm #

      Thanks for your comments – love it! How great that he was able to visit so soon after the wall opened. I’m glad it was a good memory!

  70. crayfish November 28, 2014 at 2:44 pm #

    Reblogged this on UNDER THE TOADSTOOL and commented:
    What an insightful piece!

  71. wordz2go January 3, 2015 at 4:41 pm #

    great personal insight, thanks

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