May 23, 2015

1334, 1335, 1603 GERMANY (Berlin) - The Berlin Wall

1334 Berlin - Conrad Shumann overcoming,
on 08.15.1961, the barbed wire at the Bernauer Strasse

Posted on 15.11.2014, 23.05.2015
The Berlin Wall (German: Berliner Mauer) was undoubtedly the most powerful symbol of the Iron Curtain, that separated the Western Bloc (the United States and its NATO allies) and the powers in the Eastern Bloc (the Soviet Union and its allies in the Warsaw Pact) during the Cold War. It was constructed by the German Democratic Republic starting on 13 August 1961, and completely cut off (by land) West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin until it was opened in 1989. The Eastern Bloc claimed that the wall was erected to protect its population from fascist elements conspiring to prevent the "will of the people" in building a socialist state in East Germany, but in practice it served to prevent the massive emigration and defection that marked East Germany and the communist Eastern Bloc during the post-WWII period. Before the Wall's erection, 3.5 million East Germans circumvented Eastern Bloc emigration restrictions and defected from the GDR, but between 1961 and 1989, the wall prevented almost all such emigration. During this period, around 5,000 people attempted to escape over the wall, with an estimated death toll of from 136 to more than 200 in and around Berlin.

1335 The fall of the Berlin Wall, 9 November 1989

In the first postcard is an East German soldier, named Conrad Schumann, leaping over barbed wire into West Berlin. Born in Saxony in 1942, Schumann enlisted in the East German police following his 18th birthday. After a training in Dresden, he was posted to a non-commissioned officers' college in Potsdam, after which he volunteered for service in Berlin. On 15 August 1961, he was sent to the corner of Ruppiner Strasse and Bernauer Strasse to guard the Berlin Wall on its third day of construction. From the other side, West Germans shouted to him, "Komm' rüber!" (Come over!), and a police car pulled up to wait for him. Schumann jumped over the barbed wire fence and was promptly driven away by the West Berlin police. The photo made by Peter Leibing has since become an iconic image of the Cold War era, and was inducted into the UNESCO Memory of the World programme. Schumann settled in Bavaria, where it was married, but his life has never been normal. On 20 June 1998, suffering from depression, he committed suicide by hanging himself.

Berlin - East Side Gallery
(the postcard contains a capsule with a fragment of the Berlin Wall)

The Revolutions of 1989, part of the revolutionary wave that resulted in the Fall of Communism in the states of Central and Eastern Europe, have led to radical political changes in the Eastern Bloc. After several weeks of civil unrest, the East German government announced on 9 November 1989 that all GDR citizens could visit West Germany and West Berlin. Crowds of East Germans crossed and climbed onto the wall, joined by West Germans on the other side in a celebratory atmosphere (in the second postcard). Over the next few weeks, euphoric public and souvenir hunters chipped away parts of the wall; the governments later used industrial equipment to remove most of what was left. Contrary to popular belief, the wall's demolition didn't begin until Summer 1990 and was not completed until 1992. The fall of the Berlin Wall paved the way for German reunification, which was formally concluded on 3 October 1990.

A 1.3 km long section of the Berlin Wall, located near the centre of Berlin, on Mühlenstrasse in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, on the so-called "hinterland mauer", which closed the border to West Berlin, became an international memorial for freedom, The East Side Gallery. The Gallery consists of 105 paintings by artists from all over the world, painted in 1990 on the east side of the Berlin Wall. It is possibly the largest and longest-lasting open air gallery in the world. The paintings document a time of change and express the euphoria and great hopes for a better, more free future for all people of the world.

About the stamps on the postcards 1334 and 1335, showing the Post Tower in Bonn and the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, I wrote here. The stamp on the postcard 1603, depicting Ludwigslust Palace, is part of the series Burgen und Schlösser (Castles and Palaces), about which I wrote here.

Berlin Wall - Wikipedia
Conrad Schumann - Wikipedia

Sender 1334, 1335: Marius Vasilescu
1334: Sent from Berlin (Berlin / Germany), on 21.06.2012
Photo: Peter Leibing / 15.08.1961
1335: Sent from Berlin (Berlin / Germany), on 25.01.2013
Photo: Claudia Katz-Palme
Sender 1603: Andra Ivănescu and Lee Roberts
1603: Sent from Berlin (Berlin / Germany), on ??.05.2015

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