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Dioramas: Buildings & Ruins
Ruined buildings and city scenes.
Hosted by Darren Baker
"Reconstruction" Eastern Europe
thompyt
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Texas, United States
Joined: July 27, 2006
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Posted: Wednesday, December 12, 2018 - 11:23 AM UTC
I was stationed in Grafenwoehr for 9 of 16 Years in Germany. I used to have an excellent Bavarian accent. I was there when the wall went down and got to encounter Trabie's in the Parkplaetze and almost run them over on the A9. We used to go to Marienbad in the Czech. As soon as you crossed the border you went back in time 40 years. I did a daylong motorcycle trip through Prague and a little past it. Somewhere in the Czech traffic archives I have picture of me running a stoplight. There was an "abandoned" Russian Kaserne being guarded by one soldier in a decrepit uniform at a the sitting on a cement block. The building behind him was destroyed (Doors and windows broken). I have heard the same that the Russians when they left would take anything and everything they could, doors, windows, tubs, sinks, and toilets. Anything that could be unbolted.
18Bravo
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Posted: Wednesday, December 12, 2018 - 08:58 AM UTC
The worst I saw was Dresden, which someone has mentioned earlier. I hitchhiked there right after the wall came down. The photos I posted earlier for those who didn't guess is in Wittenberg, where Martin Luther started the whole Protestant thing.
Anyway, many parts of Dresden still looked bad.
Fun trip though. I was the first American most people had ever seen. I never even had to stick my thumb out - people would just drive up and ask, "Sind Sie Amerikaner?" Must have been the ALICE pack and the boots.
HermannB
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Bayern, Germany
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Posted: Wednesday, December 12, 2018 - 06:49 AM UTC

Quoted Text

A remote relative lived in the GDR and she did some private rebuilding. She wanted tiles in her bathroom so everyone she knew sufficiently well was asked to "find" tiles if they could.
After a few years she had all the tiles she needed.
"Finding" (scrounging, stealing, whatever ...) the grout to set the tiles was another matter so another relative who lived in the west was asked to buy grout in the west and bring it to the GDR.
/ Robin



My Grand Aunt lived in Leipzig. Each year, she was allowed to visit us after she retired. After Reunification we visited her in a Plattenbau in Leipzig. So I grew a quite good Saxonian accent during her visits.
Helping each other was quite common in East Germany. What the state factories could not deliver, somehow someone can "organize" it and you can swap for other things that you have "organzed".
One common practice was to send "Westpakete" (parcels with West German supplies). For example coffee, chocolate and fruits were commonly send. While the food supply in East Germany was quite good, frúits like bananas or oranges were sparse. A commom joke after the opening of the border was:
"How can you tell were the east side of the (Berlin) wall is?
Put a banana on the wall and where the banana is bitten of, there`s East Germany".
HermannB
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Bayern, Germany
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Posted: Wednesday, December 12, 2018 - 06:33 AM UTC
I don´t think that other nations in Eastern Europe suffered that much damage as Deutschland did. Except for Warsaw during the Ghetto Uprising in 1944, I didn`t think that city`s were bombed by the Soviets. Of course, Warsaw was destroyed by Wehrmacht and not the Soviets. I was in Plzen recently and there was no sign that the city was massivly bombed.
18Bravo
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Posted: Wednesday, December 12, 2018 - 05:54 AM UTC
Know one knows where those bricks are even today. I managed to take several unauthorized photos at Spandau. Got one of Hess as well - confiscated.



My greatest coup was this: Anatoly Sharansky being released by the Soviets on Glienicker Bruecke. I talked my way past everyone and got better photos than Stars and Stripes. My B&W phase still

I had someone photograph me to prove I been there.

Scarred
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Posted: Wednesday, December 12, 2018 - 05:31 AM UTC
We used to do some training at McNair, namely on the rappelling tower and drill on the Platz for the battalion change of command. The Berlin Brigade Runs started and finished there. Do you know what they did with the rifle range? I got stuck running the range for a couple of weeks October 88. I was in the 'tower' all day and most nights getting our battalion thru but other units would squeeze a platoon thru if we had a break so for hours it was 'ready on the right? The right is ready, ready on the left? The left is ready.'

Went to a few concerts at the Waldbuhne, the best being Springsteen summer of 88.

I had a mountain bike I rode around town on, all over the Grunewald, up to my girlfriends apartment in Spandau. We went and watched them tear down the Citidel after Hess died. My goal was to snag a brick.

We worked days/swings/mids on a 6 day rotation and whenever I had a Sunday morning off we'd try to get to the rod and gun club to shoot our POW's (privately owned weapons) and snag breakfast. The polizei were often there so we'd swap weapons and burn thru a couple boxes of bullets. I had two 9mm's, my roommate had .45 and 9mm and our squad leader had a new gun every month so you never knew what he'd bring to the party.
Neo
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Posted: Wednesday, December 12, 2018 - 04:24 AM UTC

Quoted Text


One of the platoon sergeants called me a traitor and went whining to our CO that I had saluted commie officers. Our CO had done a tour in Berlin and knew the SOFA and told him how it was. That E-7 would call me traitor when ever he thought he would get away with it until our CO heard him and corrected him. He was transferred to another unit in the battalion because the CO didn't want someone like that in his unit.



Shocking !
First time I heard a story like that...


Big Army:
Keeping the marginally intelligent employed since 1775.
18Bravo
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Posted: Wednesday, December 12, 2018 - 03:21 AM UTC
Getting back to the "reconstruction," I had mentioned McNair Barracks were scheduled to become condos. It appears they have.
But along Goerzallee they'd added a spa, a pet food store, and I kid you not - a gym named McFit.
Along the one side was Platz des 4. Juli, a huge parking lot where US forces staged during alerts - well within 60 mm mortar range of die Genossen. During more peaceful times it made a great drag race strip:



Behind the jackass doing wheelies (me) is how McNair looked then:



And here it is now:



Did you ever go to the races on the Avus?

Once. They would shut down the AVUS (which led to checkpoint Bravo normally, and allowed access through the corridor) and run the race every year. I myself would rather be the one going fast , so we would race up and down it all hours of the day and night. There was a place at one end called die Spinnebruecke or literally Spider bridge, where you could go for refreshment or meet the local cuties who had a thing for bikes. It got its name from being the place where tales were spun, much like a spider's web. That's why ya gotta take pictures. That's my VF1100 in the foreground, before I painted it black with the Rising Sun on the tank:

GulfWarrior
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Posted: Wednesday, December 12, 2018 - 02:02 AM UTC
I was up on the inter-German border on Reunification Day. It was strange seeing the Bundeswehr and NVA standing around looking at each other and all of the sudden they started taking the fence apart. It was at that point that my OIC looked at me and said, "Sorry bud! You've gotta leave the SCIF. We don't monitor the communications of a friendly country." They made me a translator after that. Still fun, but not what I signed up for.
RobinNilsson
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Posted: Tuesday, December 11, 2018 - 09:44 PM UTC
A remote relative lived in the GDR and she did some private rebuilding. She wanted tiles in her bathroom so everyone she knew sufficiently well was asked to "find" tiles if they could.
After a few years she had all the tiles she needed.
"Finding" (scrounging, stealing, whatever ...) the grout to set the tiles was another matter so another relative who lived in the west was asked to buy grout in the west and bring it to the GDR.
/ Robin
spongya
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MODELGEEK
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Budapest, Hungary
Joined: February 01, 2005
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Posted: Tuesday, December 11, 2018 - 08:16 PM UTC
Hungary was a somewhat mixed case. In the 60s and 70s there were a lot of building and modernisation going on (older photos look almost as if they could have been taken anywhere in the Western world), but on the other hand certain districts of Budapest were neglected; the 8th in particular. This was a political move: the 56 revolution started there; so you could still see houses with shrapnel marks and bullet holes until the 90s. (Some of them are still like that...)

But there were metro lines being built, housing projects going up (well, this was not a positive thing...), bridges rebuilt, etc, etc.


You can browse photos here from every year of the century...

http://www.fortepan.hu/
Scarred
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Posted: Tuesday, December 11, 2018 - 07:01 PM UTC

Quoted Text


Quoted Text


We could take the duty train to the Zone (West Germany) whenever we wanted, you just needed travel orders...



Ah, I took that train many times! Once to pick up my bike from Bremerhaven, and then several times to wrestle. (I had managed to bulk up to 165 by then, and represented Berlin at that weight)
But the best rips were on my bike. I could speed like a maniac and even when I got pulled over the Vopos were powerless to do anything. They damn sure didn't want to call the Soviets.
Since the route was timed, (you couldn't get there too soon or too late) I'd race up to the checkpoint way ahead of schedule, and then just stop 100 meters short of it and sit there on my bike until it was time. Best way to trade too: The guard would point at stuff on his uniform and I'd keep shaking my head until he pointed to something I didn't already have. When I went into the guard shack I'd leave a carton of Marlboros on the seat. When i returned there was the item I wanted in its place.
I tried to steal the Gorby portrait once from inside the shack - it was bolted to the wall.

Flag Orders. Note MC licence plate number:




I gotta a couple of those in a box somewhere around here. I took the train to Frankfurt many times. TDY to the Zone, training in Vilseck, concerts, medical treatment and just to kill a 3 day weekend.
HermannB
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Bayern, Germany
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Posted: Tuesday, December 11, 2018 - 04:53 PM UTC
The desolate conditions in East Germany were the reason why the unified Germany spend billions and billions after the reuni-fication. A long-term German Chancellor spoke of "Propering Landscapes" from the Westerners money. But believe me there are still places in Thuringia, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern where you can film a DDR movie with no great rebuilding.
18Bravo
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Posted: Tuesday, December 11, 2018 - 04:38 PM UTC

Quoted Text


We could take the duty train to the Zone (West Germany) whenever we wanted, you just needed travel orders...



Ah, I took that train many times! Once to pick up my bike from Bremerhaven, and then several times to wrestle. (I had managed to bulk up to 165 by then, and represented Berlin at that weight)
But the best rips were on my bike. I could speed like a maniac and even when I got pulled over the Vopos were powerless to do anything. They damn sure didn't want to call the Soviets.
Since the route was timed, (you couldn't get there too soon or too late) I'd race up to the checkpoint way ahead of schedule, and then just stop 100 meters short of it and sit there on my bike until it was time. Best way to trade too: The guard would point at stuff on his uniform and I'd keep shaking my head until he pointed to something I didn't already have. When I went into the guard shack I'd leave a carton of Marlboros on the seat. When i returned there was the item I wanted in its place.
I tried to steal the Gorby portrait once from inside the shack - it was bolted to the wall.

Flag Orders. Note MC licence plate number:

GulfWarrior
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Posted: Tuesday, December 11, 2018 - 03:54 PM UTC
I remember teasing one of the female soldiers in my AIT class who got orders for FS Berlin; telling her that her first detail was going to be to repaint the bullseyes for the Russian artillery spotters!

Scarred
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Posted: Tuesday, December 11, 2018 - 11:34 AM UTC

Quoted Text


Quoted Text

Oh god Ft. Devens. 8 months of training there, still hear code in my nightmares...

(snipped)





Devens?! I was there for 6 weeks in '89 right before heading over to Germany (Cooke Barracks, 1st ID(Forward)). We used to go up to Mount Meissner and do border ops. On clear day you could look down in the valley and see the DDR border guards walking their dogs.

Ever see a show on Discovery Science Channel called "Mysteries of the Abandoned"? They did a segment not too long ago on Field Station Berlin! I damn near crapped myself seeing how bad that place is now. It's been all torn up.

Nothing like a stroll down Amnesia Lane!




I've got that episode on my DVR, it shows the hallways I walked down, the big shredders for destroying classified trash, and areas that had a lot of memories. You didn't want that shredder detail. A couple times a week and when we had alerts the duty to destroy the classified trash was given to various shops. By the time you got done you were covered in paper dust and lint. Sometimes a moron would throw a stapler or 3 ring punch in the trash and seal the bag. So when you throw the bag in the shredder which had these high speed rotating hammers that pulverized the trash they would hit the big chunks of metal only to shoot them back out into the brick wall and take a chunk out of the wall. You kept your head out of the way. When you were done you looked like a walking lint ball. They finally got wise and contracted off duty soldiers who worked there so they had the security clearances, to destroy the trash several times a week. It freed up on duty soldiers and since it was hot and miserable you could wear shorts and t-shirts to destroy the trash. I was on the QRF and Backup Force for site security. When there were riots in Berlin, and they would riot at the drop of a hat, they would some times come up and raise hell so we would deploy to back up the local national guards who provided site security. Other times people with cameras would set up just inside the woodline and take pictures of the soldiers in the compond. We would then go out catch them, try to ID them and they would be soviet or east germans taking pictures of the site and operators, so we'd take their cameras, pull the film search them, give them back their gear minus the film and escort them back down the trails to the bottom of the hill and sent them on their way or they were detained and removed from West Berlin.

We could take the duty train to the Zone (West Germany) whenever we wanted, you just needed travel orders. Get on the train at night, go thru Check Point Bravo where Soviet soldiers came on board checked your ID against the orders, and then you can sleep all night in a nice car until you hit Frankfurt. On the way back to Berlin it's reversed, hit Checkpoint Alpha then Bravo then the train station.
GulfWarrior
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Posted: Tuesday, December 11, 2018 - 09:37 AM UTC

Quoted Text

Oh god Ft. Devens. 8 months of training there, still hear code in my nightmares...

(snipped)





Devens?! I was there for 6 weeks in '89 right before heading over to Germany (Cooke Barracks, 1st ID(Forward)). We used to go up to Mount Meissner and do border ops. On clear day you could look down in the valley and see the DDR border guards walking their dogs.

Ever see a show on Discovery Science Channel called "Mysteries of the Abandoned"? They did a segment not too long ago on Field Station Berlin! I damn near crapped myself seeing how bad that place is now. It's been all torn up.

Nothing like a stroll down Amnesia Lane!

ivanhoe6
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Posted: Tuesday, December 11, 2018 - 09:30 AM UTC
My first visit as a tourist was Spring of 1990, a few months after the Wall came down. While I was in the town of Goslar I decided to travel East after hearing about the Harzquellerbahn a narrow gauge steam train that wandered all thru the Eastern Harz. Stayed in a town Wernigerode, allegedly a"resort" town where the upper level Communist Party members went to spend their vacations. The town was in rough shape compared to the GDR. Then off to Quedlingburg, a little better shape. I remember a lot of pickled things on the breakfast buffet there, not a normal thing in the West. Rode a different narrow gauge train to the top of Mt. Brocken, a major former Soviet ELINT gathering base. What an ecological disaster they left behind when they pulled out.
Finding lodging throughout my journey East was tough. They weren't ready for tourism. I got discounts for using D-marks & dollars. I think that they were afraid that reunification was a dream and they were going to wake up and it would be back to the old days.
After a few days I returned to the GDR, too much energy spent looking for lodging. It was hard.
If anybody is going that way I highly recommend riding those narrow gauge trains all over. Maybe they've padded those hard wooden seats by now. Lots of great photo ops !
Any ex-tankers stationed near Bebra ? I went on a good bender there with some.
oliver
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Beersheba, Israel
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Posted: Tuesday, December 11, 2018 - 08:41 AM UTC
I was in East Germany 1988 as I have family living in Dresden.The thing I remember most of all is everything becoming grey just after crossing the border and looking old and run down.In dresden itself there where still areas that had never been cleared or reconstructed even after 45 yrs.Even new buildings looked run down,most cars where followed by a cloud of oily smoke.I dont think that the Soviets ever had any intention of rebuilding the East completely in any way. I looked from East Berlin into West Berlin,thats when it dawned on me that my relatives had a crap life there and that I was lucky that I had the freedom i had.
Kevlar06
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Posted: Tuesday, December 11, 2018 - 07:58 AM UTC
I had an extremely interesting career, among which was almost seven years spent in Germany, at various bases to include a three year stint with the 11th Cav along the border in the 70's. I always wondered when I was looking through binoculars, what life was like on the other side. In 1995, I commanded a Base Support Battalion running from Frankfurt up to the Dutch border, and over to the "Former East". The Former East German towns bordering the Battalion area issued constant invitations to my unit for "liaison" visits like we did for the local towns in our area, which encompassed Hanau, Freidberg, Geissen, Butzbach, Bad Nauheim, Budingen, Bad Hersfeld, Fulda and Bad Kissingen, (where I'd been stationed in the 70's). One such visit took me to the town of Quedlinburg, which was the seat of the First German Reich in 999. It was an ancient town, and my driver and I were the first official Americans in uniform to visit since the end of WWII. The trip over by car from West Germany was an eye-opener. The first thing I noticed was the shabbiness of the buildings on the former East German side, immediately after crossing the old inter-German border. Everything was gray and dirty, as opposed to the neat cleanliness of the West. The houses were mostly shingled in slate, and were unpainted rather than the bright stucco found in the West. The cars were mostly Trabants, and they all burned vast amounts of oil. the roadways were largely still cobblestone or concrete block in towns, rather than concrete or asphalt.

When I got to Quedlinberg (in the Hartz mountain area), I found the townspeople had made a great effort to clean things up, and were attempting to get more tourism going, as there is a huge amount of German history in the area (including the theft and return of the Quedlinberg relics by an American Lieutenant at the end of WWII, and their subsequent return). The Mayor took me on a short tour of the former Russian compound (which had been a former SS barracks--the SS were the primary units in Quedlinberg before and during the war). The barracks were three story affairs, but they were roped off and scheduled for demolition due to "environmental contamination". When the Russians moved in during 1945, they found the SS had demolished the surrounding infrastructure, including the sewers, so they simply cut holes through the floor of the Barracks for toilets, and by the 60s, had completely filled the basements with excrement. Undaunted, they blocked in the first floor windows with concrete, leaving one "exit pipe" and started to fill the 1st floors likewise. Even in 1995, after being abandoned for 6 years,the smell was still pretty bad.
The Mayor told me the Russians were very hard on the citizens, and even their own troops. Farmers bordering the Russian installations could be arrested for giving food to the Russian troops, who in turn could be shot for accepting it. I was really shocked by the contrast between East and West. So when we talk of "reconstruction" I think it's safe to say there wasn't much in the East. After reunification, West Germans were levied a "reunification tax" which went to rebuild the East--in some cases, as high as $5K US a year--I know because we had a sizeable German workforce (I was the US Works Council representative--the equivalent of a Labor Union), and there was a lot of grumbling about the tax. West Germany, and most of Western Europe was "gifted" the Marshall plan, which made all the difference--and after seeing what the Russians did in East Germany, I can say the Marshall plan was worth every penny of US tax dollars. George Marshall was indeed a visionary-- his plan provided a base for the West to assist Eastern Europe in finally recovering and accomplishing "reconstruction" after WWII--even 50 years after the fact.
I also had an opportunity to "host" the Russian Chemical Demilitarization team in Hawaii and Johnston Island during my tour in Hawaii and the Pacific in 1990. Their travel allowance was $50 US for the entire ten day trip--they certainly traveled on the"cheap". I "gifted" my Russian counterpart a pair of Jeans and a six pack of coke from the PX--he couldn't afford to buy them for his kids. Hopefully he made it back to Russia without them being "confiscated"--those were hard times for both the Eastern Europeans and the Russian people themselves.
VR, Russ
Scarred
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Posted: Monday, December 10, 2018 - 02:25 PM UTC
Oh god Ft. Devens. 8 months of training there, still hear code in my nightmares.

Did you ever go to the races on the Avus? Was able to go a few times during the season, sitting in those grandstands eating pretzels. It was wild seeing the motorcycles hanging from the crane waiting to be lowered to the track.

We used to hang out at my squad leaders apartment in Duppel and we'd get drunk, go to one of the watch stands overlooking the wall and moon the guards in the tower. I'm sure in the old KGB archives are pictures of my rear end.

I got to Berlin on an emergency transfer after a few of my MOS got in trouble and were asked to leave by the Russians. I was on orders for Korea, didn't really want to go there and I was trying to get orders for somewhere, ANYWHERE in Germany. My OIC called me in and said they needed 3 of us in Berlin FAST and since I was starting to outprocess did I want to change to Berlin? I said "hell yeah" and I was already familiar with the mission so they swapped me to Berlin, I extended my enlistment 6 months to meet the 2 year requirement and was gone in days. Hit Berlin the last week of Jan 87. Traveled in status so I literally walked off the plane and went to work. No casual duty waiting for my clearance. Was able to delay the mandatory two week Berlin Brigade orientation for a month until things quieted down for us.

Used to hang out at the Irish Pub on the Ku damm you could find us in the corner booth table loaded with beer.

I had a lot of pictures and they were stored in the family home but it exploded and burned one night and I lost almost all of my mementos and picts.

Did you ever see the Russian officers in the PX? Had to salute them and everything. Got back stateside (I had re-enlisted while over there for $25000 and unit of choice) was telling my new unit about how we were still allied to the Russians over there and having to salute their officers. One of the platoon sergeants called me a traitor and went whining to our CO that I had saluted commie officers. Our CO had done a tour in Berlin and knew the SOFA and told him how it was. That E-7 would call me traitor when ever he thought he would get away with it until our CO heard him and corrected him. He was transferred to another unit in the battalion because the CO didn't want someone like that in his unit.
18Bravo
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Posted: Monday, December 10, 2018 - 11:29 AM UTC
I remember Al Mulino's. I also remember a lot of the gals you probably worked with. Some I already knew from when they were going through ASA training at Ft. Devens, some I discovered at Andrews.
I found a few photos of some reconstruction in the East that I took, and some that may bring back memories. Most are from my "B&W Period."

This is a building undergoing renovation in East Berlin:



Some decrepit buildings outside of East Berlin that look like they could have been cool if renovated:



Another dilapidated building by a small train station:



A "Modern Diesel-Lok":



Old friends:



Lifeguards, in case your misfortune ends you up in the canal...



Bonus for anyone identifying this one:

Scarred
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Washington, United States
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Posted: Sunday, December 09, 2018 - 03:35 AM UTC
I was there 87-89 and across the street from Andrews gate, that I can remember, was an Imbiss on the corner (sometimes I miss doner kebabs) a club with pitcher kamikaze's (that may be where you are talking about but I'll be damned if I can remember ), Al Mulino's, a decent little italian restaurant we always figured was a Stasi operation keeping tabs on us in the intel unit and a place called the Speakeasy with good beer, darts, a spaghetti night and a big newfoundland that greeted everyone. I was there when Ronnie was telling Gorby to "tear down this wall".

I worked on Teufelsberg in that big phallic looking building that is still there but stripped. We lived across the quad from the old SS Leibstandarte Adolph Hitler barracks. We used to party, do PT, play football and frisbee where Adolph is in the linked picture.
http://www.thirdreichruins.com/Lichterfelde_BA_Bild_102-17311.jpg
18Bravo
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Posted: Sunday, December 09, 2018 - 02:27 AM UTC
In 2003 I visited MacNair. They had plans to turn the whole complex into condos. There were a few old Germans who had set up a semi-official museum there. I'll post some photos once I get them scanned.
I stole my own motorcycle from the front of the MP shop at Andrews after it had been impounded. That sort of bit me you know where later on - I was no longer in the Army when I did it.
If you were there at there time you might remember a Kneipe outside the gate at Andrews that had a Parrot who meowed like a cat.
Scarred
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Posted: Saturday, December 08, 2018 - 08:30 PM UTC

Quoted Text

Many parts of East Berlin still looked bad as late as 1988. In particular Museum Island which was the location for five (?) pretty significant museums, one of which held part of the wall of Babylon. I visited that one, but some others were in such a state of disrepair it was hard to believe a Communist government would let foreigners see what a shambles it was. I'm sure all of the tour guides blamed it on Western Imperialism and Militarism.
Even my own apartment block in Wedding in the French sector had shrapnel holes in the courtyard, and I'm pretty sure the patched holes in my ceiling and floor were the result of something fairly unpleasant. In fact, it was about 1986 when the government started subsidizing repairs for a lot of the apartment blocks (and I'm sure other buildings as well) to put a good face on Berlin for their 750th birthday in 1987. By the the time I went back on a pass from Afghanistan in 2003 Alex and a lot of the locales in the East had actually surpassed the West portions due the reunification efforts. I'd say that was probably the biggest impetus in getting things rebuilt.



There were a couple areas in West Berlin in 87 that were still damaged but were being demo'd and rebuilt, they took us up there on the Berlin Brigade orientation tour. I remember a couple of times they stopped due to unexploded ordinance being found. One of my friends apartment had a big chunk of an artillery round stuck in the wall. I'd like to go back now and see how much it's changed. Our old barracks on Andrews are now a hotel.