Page 3

1959_02_28--077_SP The Squeeze is on Berlin

February 28, 1.959 / D The Squeeze is on Berlin frosted birthday cake set tantalizingly out the freely elected Berlin mu of reach of a gang of hungry kids. One (Continued from Page 27) can imagine how it looks to East Ger many’s Communist boss, Walter Ul- and sickle whip in the cold wind. A few Indeed, the entire countryside seems bricht—like a miracle that should not big gray trailer trucks and small German gloomy and deserted, the farm dwellings have been allowed to happen. cars are pulled up at the side of the road, either blacked out or showing only a faint For the miracle of West Berlin is not waiting while their drivers get their travel yellow glimmer, the towns we pass glow just the miracle of 1,000,000.000 Deutsche- papers checked in a nearby shed. The ing so feebly they seem half dead. Only marks—roughly S250.000.000—which guards pacing back and forth look bored. once, a mile off to our right, does the Konrad Adenauer’s West German gov They are tall, blond men in heavy boots night sky flare with light and life—the re ernment contributes each year to cover and thick gray-green uniforms and caps, flected fire of the great furnaces and chim the city's deficit. It is not just the $100,- and their expression is resolutely dead neys of Magdeburg working around the 000,000 the city has received in direct dol pan. The last time 1 drove this highway, clock to fill their state quotas of industrial lar aid from the United States, or the eleven years ago, the guards here were machines and machine tools (60 per cent 2.500.000. 000 Deutschemarks—around Russians, not East Germans. Now there for export to the U.S.S.R.). Otherwise 5625.000. 000—in Marshall Plan counter is only one Russian to be seen, a Red Army there is nothing and no one to be seen. part funds which have been poured into lieutenant sitting off by himself in a Once past Magdeburg we are swallowed this once-ruined city for re-equipment heated sentry box the size of a telephone up in the East German night again, fol and reconstruction. The miracle of West booth. lowing our own headlights along an auto Berlin is the miracle of a people sur Then Marienborn was a frantic and bahn that unrolls hypnotically before us rounded, isolated and threatened, a peo congested tangle of Russian, Polish, like an interminable gray ribbon. Traffic ple who, even as the Russian bear reaches French, Italian, British an/d American is so sparse that we have passed fewer than out a giant paw to grab them off, go right military vehicles clearing to or from the a dozen vehicles during this entire two- on creating and constructing their city. defeated capital of a defeated Germany. hour trip, all of them going west. A cer Over the growls of both Khrushchev and Officers and men of half a dozen na tain loneliness coupled with fatigue be Ulbricht, the streets resound with the tions—UNRRA and Red Cross officials gins to set in; we talk less, smoke more, clang of stone on stone and hammer on and military-government civilians, wav watch the highway signs more warily. nail, the nervous clattering of riveter and ing their travel orders—shouted and And then, there it is, the big black-and- pneumatic drill. You have only to walk a swore and cracked jokes at each other in white sign, Be r l in , and we are climbing few blocks in any direction to see this half a dozen languages. Today Marien- onto the Berliner Ring, that wide, pine- burned-out city, like a phoenix, rising bom is a quiet, bureaucratic bottleneck forested outer highway that encircles the from its own ashes. where East Germans are methodically city. There is one more set of striped bar checking the admission of West Ger rier poles, where we surrender the papers T o put this miracle into context, we mans. Looking around, I realize that my and passes handed to us in Marienborn. take one of the hammered-chrome ele companions and I are the only non-Ger And, at last, having submitted to every vators of the luxurious new Hilton hotel mans here. irritating control the East Germans can on the edge of the Tiergarten, get off at Inside the unheated shed, after long, think of, we are allowed to enter "our” the glass-enclosed roof garden on the shivering waits before window after win half, the Western-occupied half, of Berlin. fourteenth floor and look out over the dow, we are ushered into a back room and To anyone who has been a long time city. Below us, on one side, glows the new given our transient visas, which, since away, West Berlin is a revelation. It is a residential district of the Hansa Viertel, a January of 1958, are issued by the East mirage in the barren Communist desert of wonderland of apartments, shops, play Germans themselves and not the Rus East Germany. Out of the night, glittering grounds, garages, where recently was only sians. This long and suspicious procedure and wheeling, shine cluster after cluster of a smashed and twisted honeycomb of has taken one hour and a half, and by the lights—lighted streets, lighted homes, ruins. Below us, on the other side, runs time we are back in our car and on the lighted shops, bars, movie houses; lighted the river of light that is the Broadway of road again, it is almost dark. The pepper advertising signs, hotels, theaters, fac West Berlin, the Kurfurstendamm, with its mint poles are lifted, we are given a last tories; winking radio and television flashing department stores, cinemas, res stern warning not to stray from the auto towers. Out of the night comes a roar of taurants and theaters. There are thou bahn, and at last we are off. Off down an traffic, of clanging streetcars, buses, honk sands upon thousands more lights, right unlighted and unpoliced highway, a 110- ing taxis and autos, scurrying pedestrians, up to the Brandenburg Gate. And then, mile stretch with no gas stations, no res all impatient to get from here to there, the abruptly, blackness, the outpost blackness taurants or inns, no wayside telephones, usual predinner bustle of any western city. of East Berlin and the Communist world. no auto-repair garages, a monotonous As we skim along the Avus highway into Eleven years ago, just before the 1948 path through an unfriendly and lonely the heart of West Berlin, the city spreads blockade, this was still one city, a city very country. out before us like a multifoliate and bril like a married couple on the verge of di The land here is flat or gently rolling, liant jewel, radiating energy, prosperity vorce. bickering and fighting, but none excellent farmland set off by curving and courage. One can imagine how it theless linked in an uneasy union. Several black parentheses of pine forest. Eleven looks to the people out there in the dark all-Berlin administrative organizations years ago, when this was still called the behind the barbed wire and the Volks- still existed—the four-power Allied Con Russian Zone of Germany, ’ it was a des polizei-guarded barriers—like a richly trol Council, the four-power Allied Kommandatura, olate wasteland, its bridges toppled in the rivers, its farms looted of their equipment and livestock, its towns in ruins, its elec tric power lines and half its railway tracks ripped up and carted off to Russia as reparations. Industrial centers such as Magdeburg, Leipzig and Dresden were no more than gigantic piles of rubble, pro ducing barely 10 per cent of prewar. To day this is a “sovereign" Russian satellite, “The German Democratic Republic.” Remembering it as it was before, 1 look out through the deepening dusk. In a field to our left, six middle-aged women are working with pitchforks to spread manure before nightfall. A bit farther on, a lone farmer is plowing with one horse and a primitive plow. It is evi dent that the women are collectivized 40 per cent of this land is now in co-opera tives or state farms—but the lone farmer is not. Next we come to the Elbe River, where, in 1948, the highway bridge lay, a snarl of lank and rusty girders collapsed into the water. The bridge is under repair now, but in eleven years only the west-east section has been finished. The east-west section is still a makeshift affair, and there are only three workers to be seen, stumbling around without light or lantern. nicipal assembly. The border line between the two halves of the city was marked only by signs stating, "You are entering (or leaving) the Soviet Sector of Berlin,” and Germans and Allied personnel could cross from sector to sector without giving it a thought. The blockade and the Allied airlift made the divorce final. Today West Berlin is an entire city on its own, completely separated from East Berlin physically, administratively, eco nomically, politically; and only rarely do the two cities communicate with each other or co-operate in any way. There is no longer one metropolis of Berlin, split in two. There are now two Berlins, an eastern and a western city standing back to back, with a twenty-eight-mile-long patrolled border line between them. Each city has its own government, its own public utilities, its own fire and police department, its own postal system, its own currency, its own newspapers, its own streetcar and taxi systems. And if a citizen of West Berlin wishes to telephone a friend in East Berlin, he must cross the sector line—with all that entails—to a public phone booth and telephone from there. About all the two cities have in common is a single drainage system, a single (Western-operated) subway sys tem, and the (Eastern-operated) S-Bahn, or elevated lines. Nowhere in the world do the two phi losophies of our time, the two economic and social systems of Communism and democracy, stand glaring at each other across the width of a street as they do in the two Berlins. And nowhere are the two worlds more competitively on display. Having seen the city that western capital investment and a free labor force have made, let us take a taxi to the Branden burg Gate, walk across the border line—if we're lucky, we will not be challenged— and take a look at the other Berlin, the Berlin that turns its face east. e first striking difference is in the quantity and quality of reconstruction. Whereas West Berlin is rebuilding and restoring everything in sight—cafés, bars and night clubs, as well as churches, schools, homes and factories—East Ber lin, working more ponderously, has clearly given priority to government and Communist Party headquarters, facto ries, workers' housing and buildings for the “Free German Communist Youth” movement. On Unter den Linden, where the linden trees are no more, stand the grotesquely heavy Russian Embassy and, facing it across the street, the flag-decked “House of Free German Youth.” In the place of the old Music Academy lodms the gigantic white “House of Soviet Friendship.” The Schloss, the old im perial palace of the Kaisers, has been demolished in the interests of what the Communist Party called "progressive city planning," but the old Berlin Rathaus— city hall—completely restored, is now the headquarters of the East Berlin Commu nist municipal government. Hermann Goring’s pretentious 3000-room Air Min istry building, half of which survived the bombings, has become the headquarters of the "German Democratic Republic,” and Joseph Goebbels' restored Propa ganda Ministry is now Communist (S.E.D.) Party headquarters. Farther out, nearer the factories, run mile after mile of square, practical workers' housing units. Architecturally, too, the two cities are entirely different. West Berlin has been rebuilding in a moderate, impersonal modern, more concerned with getting the buildings up than in giving them a definite style. In East Berlin, if enough of the shell of a building has remained, they restore it in its original W'ilhelminian style (often a pity). If not, they rebuild it from the


1959_02_28--077_SP The Squeeze is on Berlin
To see the actual publication please follow the link above