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SHARKHUNTERS International
Berlin Patrol 2012
Saturday 1 September

 

ABOVE and BELOW - as we said...............

 

...........plenty of great shopping to be found here

 

We had our breakfast in this area

 

almost every morning

     

OKAY - we are rolling - but first we stop

 

at this Chinese place for lunch.  "Imbiss" means snack bar

 
    COOPER is eating - again!  He looks like a
squirrel storing nuts for the winter!


Our first stop was Cecilianhof.  This was the residence of the Crown Prince in Potsdam and for this reason, the victorious Allies chose this to be the site of the famous Potsdam Conference where the "Big Three" carved up the German lands.  As history tells us, France was not invited.

 
     
 
Magnificent place, isn't it?   Unfortunate that photography inside was forbidden.
Doggone camera malfunctioned again and kept shooting
     
 
     
 
     
 
    This is the room and the table where they sat;
Truman, Churchill and Stalin.
     
 

The red star was planted by the Soviets in 1945 because this area was in their part of Berlin.  It is continued to this day because of its 'historical significance'.  It is always well maintained and well cared for.
 

We are on the march (driving that is) through Berlin and we pass this nice-looking building.  We learn that it is not so nice - during the days of the Soviet Union, this was a prison!

We do not know what it is used for today, but we kept driving.  Visiting a Soviet prison does not seem like a good idea.......

 


Do you remember back in the days of the Cold War when some American or British businessman was grabbed by the KGB in East Berlin and charged with spying?  We all thought this was trumped up, that these businessmen were just being used as trading pieces so the Soviets could get back some of their own spies.  As we personally learned later, this was not the situation and in most cases, the businessmen were in fact, just businessmen but they had been contacted by the CIA to take photos of - whatever the CIA wanted them to take photos of.  They were not true spies, but they were spying and being untrained as spies, they were often caught taking photos of sensitive things.

 
     

     The 'Exchange' Bridge

When an exchange was to be made, the Soviet group would stand at one end of the bridge with the poor businessmen who got snookered into playing 'James Bond' for the CIA and at the other end would be the American group with a true, hard core Soviet agent.

At a given signal, the men to be traded would begin to walk slowly from their end of the bridge towards the other side and freedom.  They would pass each other silently and keep walking slowly.  When they reached their people at the other end of the bridge, the exchange was complete.  The Soviets had one of their trained agents back and the US would have some hardware salesman (or similar) back.

How do we know this to be fact?  One day we will explain.......not yet.

Photo right is a part of the park of the castle Klein-Gleinicke and it stands at the end of the bridge where we stood to shoot these photos.  More information about this place is directly below.

 

The Klein Glienicker Leisure Garden (with flower garden) is regarded as the earliest, most important example of a classical landscape garden in Prussia.  Peter Joseph Lennč determined the design for its owner, the Elector Karl August von Hardenberg as early as 1816.  After its acquisition by Prince Carl of Prussia, the son of King Wilhelm III, a working relationship between Peter Joseph Lennč and Prince Carl began with the goal of creating a landscape park according to an English model.  This relationship would last for decades.  In 1824, Karl Friedrich Schinkel began converting the old billiard house into a casino; reconstruction of the castle into a Classic design began one year later under his supervision.  The Leisure Garden was completed to the highest artistic degree by installing and converting park structures, through ever richer ornamentation with imported woods, exotic plants, as well as valuable works of art, fountains and pergola.



We drove on to the "Wansee Haus" and we visit for the beauty of the place.  You may read anything else you want into this visit.

 
     
 
     
 

Here we spend some time looking around the outside of this magnificent mansion.  What stories could this lion tell of history!

The lion is looking across the Wansee at the public swimming beach on the other side.  This beach is seen in some of our DVDs of the German lifestyle of before and during the war.

     
 
     
 

Can't remember if photos were forbidden inside, but about the only thing to see were empty rooms with large photos and plaques on the wall.  On the left is a photo of what that room looked like before World War Two.

You really have to see it for yourself to understand........

     
 


Checkpoint BRAVO?
We all know about Checkpoint CHARLIE.  We will be there in a day or two - but Checkpoint BRAVO?  Our HQ hotel is a mere five-minute walk from this piece of collapsed Soviet history.

 
     
 

As we drew near this former Autobahn checkpoint, HARRY COOPER (1-LIFE-1983) realized that he had been here before.  During an early Sharkhunters 'Patrol' in Germany (1988), their bus had to come through this very checkpoint on the way into Berlin!  This was part of the 'Transit'; that is one of the few highways through the 'Iron Curtain' from West Germany into East Germany.

The Autobahn goes straight on into Berlin today, but back in the days of the 'Cold War', there were huge concrete barriers on the roadway here so no vehicle could go straight through - they had to go through a zig-zag area then stop while grim faced Soviet guards looked under the busses and trucks then shoved huge mirrors underneath to spot anyone or anything that didn't belong.  It was an uneasy time in history!

     
 
     
 
     
 

What remains of Checkpoint BRAVO is being turned into a museum to the enslavement of a huge section of a nation by the Soviets who built walls, barriers, fences and checkpoints to keep their workforce imprisoned.  Many Germans died attempting to reach freedom on the other side.  Those of us old enough to remember the 1960's, there was a popular song entitled "West of the Wall" which told of this struggle.

Who can forget those famous words "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" and thanks to President RONALD REAGAN (1858-1991), the dreaded Berlin Wall came down, the 'Iron Curtain' dissolved and Germany was once again a whole and free nation.......well, almost.  There are sections of former Germany that are not back as yet such as East Prussia and Pommern as examples.  Will they ever be returned to the new Germany?  That is a question just beneath the surface there today.


Now, just for fun, let's walk along the Autobahn - watch out for fast moving cars!

Whether it says 'EINGANG VERBOTEN' or 'BITTE NACHT BETRETEN' the meaning is the same - the government doesn't want you there and naturally, Sharkhunters MUST go there!  In this case, it is apparent that the government means for nature to overgrow any and all memories of the Third Reich.  This sign tells that this area has been re-forested with plants and trees.  The goal being the total eradication of this Autobahn and the big railway bridge.

Walk with us along this part of the Berlin-München Autobahn.  This was the direct road between these two major cities - it was here that Eva Braun drove her bright red Mercedes and it was here that Wehrmacht troops marched for battle.

The ghosts of a different time haunt this section of the Autobahn.  Let's walk with them.  You might even feel someone walking next to you - but there is no one there.

 
     
 
Come on - you didn't really think we were going
to walk on the active Autobahn, did you?
  If you listen carefully and let your imagination wander,
maybe you really can hear that big red Mercedes.......
     
 

At one end of this dieing section of the Autobahn is the big railway

 

bridge.  What nature doesn't take back, 'taggers' will destroy

     

   Here we see the route of the Berlin Wall as it once stood right here.

At the other end of this section stands a stark reminder of yet another collapsed empire. the Soviet Union.

 
     
 

The roadway crosses the Teltow Canal, site of vicious fighting in the

 

closing moments of the war, Volksturm against the Red Army

     
 
Now there are no cars waiting to cross into East Berlin   The flags are gone as is the guard shack and the USSR itself
     
 

Not much remains of this former DDR restaurant on the former East Berlin side of the border...........only rubble and memories of a time that passed into history a long time ago - but was it really that long ago?

How much of this history is disappearing right before our eyes?  How much will be gone in a year?  Two years?  Will YOU be with us to experience this history yourself?  Don't put it off.........it may be too late.

Okay, we have had enough fun for one day - it is time for Abbendessen - supper, and we go to a beautiful German restaurant in the old hunting lodge style right on the banks of the Teltow Canal, by the locks (Schluse in German).

 
     
 
Do we sit inside as above?   Or do we sit outside as below?
   
     
 

Either way, the view of the locks and the Teltow Canal is fantastic, and the food is great.

It has been a full day - we saw so much and walked so far, so it is time for bed - but tomorrow will be great too - join us.

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