Hope – Tuesday, February 7

Today was my last day in Berlin. I spend the day with Ali, Garrett, Nikki, Victoria, Michelle, and Callie. We went to a museum in front on Checkpoint Charlie. I didn’t know what to expect except that today we would be learning more about the Cold War. It was a guided tour lead by a man who, we soon were told, was put in the prison I went to yesterday for two years. He was there in complete isolation for 2 years of his life. After those two years, he spend 7 more in a different prison. The only thing he did was help over 129 people escape from East to West Berlin. I think my jaw dropped when I first heard him tell us this. I was shocked. Initially, I just saw an old man with rotting teeth who had a job at this small museum. He was the man who opened the museum. His life was this part of history. He spend two years in complete isolation. The only human contact he had was with his interrogator and the guards. He heard just 5 things for two years- commands- stop, go, stand still, etc. Just five. He told us his teeth were rotting because he didn’t have the proper nutrition for so many years. I asked him how he was so positive after everything-he delayed in his answer but said that life goes on. I asked him if he regretted his decision to help the 130 people which lead him to 9 years of his life in prison. He hesitated a lot after this question. He said that he thought it was good thing to do. I could tell that he was very hurt by everything happened. I can imagine that what happened is still the center of his life-how could it not be? He told us stories about how people escaped-hot air balloon, airplanes, tunnels, kayaks, cars and other ways. He knew most of the people who’s escape methods were on display in the museum. His favorite means of escape was two brothers who were on the west side who build airplanes to save their brother who was on the east side. The put a red star on their airplane and the guards saluted them as the passed over the death zone. They successfully saved their brother. Our guide said he loved these men very much and said that they are very funny. At the end of the tour, I wanted to take the man to lunch and talk with him more. I asked him to lunch, but I don’t think he heard me. He gave us a copy of the newspaper from the day the wall fell and a book about his museum. I think he did this because we asked so many questions and were so interested in what he was telling us.

Reflecting on how he made me feel I can say that I felt sad for him. Amazed by him. Happy for him. I wondered what he went through, who he lost, how is life is now. I want to know more of his story. I don’t want his suffering to be forgotten. I think it is wonderful how he sacrificed some of his life for many others. It is so sad that it must be this way.

After this, we went to the Brandenburg Gate, then into the famous hotel where Michael Jackson hung his baby from the window. We actually went inside to see what the fuss was all about. It honestly was not very impressive. Im sure the rooms are, however. The guards at the front door were funny and made fun of the way we asked them if we could go inside. They said no photos, so I turned off my go pro. I have a video of this!

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