Brigitte Heinrich, a teacher in east Berlin, witnessed the beginning of the Berlin Wall on Aug 13, 1961.
Fifty years later, the former East German resident still doesnalt39t communicate with whom she calls ” Western”
” They arenalt39t much interested in what is happening in their eastern compatriotsalt39 lives,” she said.
The concrete wall on the border between eastern and western Berlin lasted from 1961 to 1989.
” There are a lot of sociable western Germans. Once I spoke to a delegation whose members were asking a lot of questions, they were really interested. However, there are a lot of other people who donalt39t want to have any contact with us at all,” Heinrich said.
Heinrich was born and grew up in Klein- Glienicke on the outskirts of Berlin.
The area was closed off by the wall, beyond which lay West Berlin.
Entry was possible only via gates in the Berlin Wall or via the Glienicke Bridge, the scene of many famous spy- swaps between East and West.
” Construction of the wall really started back in 1949 when the GDR ( East Germany) was established. The border line was drawn already at this time. We shouldnalt39t have crossed the demarcation line but actually we could reach West Berlin from any point. Then the barbed wire was stretched out in 1961,” Heinrich said.
” The inhabitants of the city couldnalt39t believe it would be divided, and hoped for the Alliesalt39 support,” she said.
” We lived right near the lake, my father and I had often visited relatives who lived on Pheasant Island. It was forbidden to keep a boat when the wall was built.
Our arbor near the lake and clothes lines were moved away, our storehouse was demolished which was terrible for one who had been living here for 20 years,” Heinrich recalls.
Visitors could only enter Klein- Glienicke with special identity documents or local registration.
Heinrich had to go a long way around to reach the centre of the city where she studied.
” I came home late in the evening and woke up very early. I never got to the university on time,” Heinrich said with a smile.
The wall was not entirely successful in keeping the inhabitants of Klein- Glienicke inside.
A tunnel was dug in a house in the area and one of Heinrichs students crossed the border by simply leaning a ladder against the wall.
Germany marks today the 50th anniversary of the Berlin Wall going up with solemn ceremonies across the city and the opening of an expanded memorial for its victims.