Berlin Wall 15th

I can't be objective about the Berlin Wall. I was in Germany serving in the U-S Air Force when the wall went up in the early '60's. First, the coils of barbed wire and ultimately the concrete wall that stretched 28 miles. It split the heart of that great city for nearly thirty years. I spent some time there.

There were stark differences between East and West Berlin then—from the top floor restaurant in the Hilton, you could easily see where the wall was at night. It was much darker on the east side. Many people who tried to escape to the West lost their lives trying—more than 200 of them. The most memorable was Peter Fechter. On August 17 th , 1962, he tried to get out of East Berlin . He made it through the barbed wire and actually to the wall. He was trying to clamber over the top when he was shot by one of the hated vopos—the East German border guards—and he dropped to the ground, on the wrong side.

The bullet didn't kill him outright. He lay there moaning and begging for help, but vopos warned they would shoot anyone who came near him. So he bled to death. He was 18 years old. Germans marked the 15 th anniversary of the fall of The Wall without celebration, but with a simple wreath-laying at a section of The Wall left standing as a memorial to Peter Fechter and the others who died there.