My newest coloring book Berlin Divided – Berlin United, Berlin Geteilt – Berlin Vereint has just been released.
I decided to create this book because whenever I talk about growing up in West Berlin during the Cold War people are very interested in me telling them more about what it was like.
“What do you mean you were born in the American Sector of West Berlin?” “What was it like?” are questions I often get asked.
Questions about Berlin being divided into four sectors by the Allied Forces, the U.S., England, France and the Soviet Union.
Questions about what it was like to grow up in a city divided by a wall. Most people have a hard time wrapping their mind around the idea of not being able to just drive outside your city to the next town or the countryside.
Or the idea of having to go through heavily controlled checkpoints to visit family or friends on the other side of the city. And the concept of those friends or family members in East Berlin and East Germany not being able to come visit us in West Berlin and West Germany.
Growing up, this was just my reality. A scary and very limiting reality. But I didn’t know any different because the wall had always been there.
Since November 9th this year commemorates the 30-year anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, I decided to share my story in this bilingual cultural guide and coloring book. In the introduction I tell the story of growing up in West Berlin, visiting family in East Berlin and how I remember the fall of the Berlin Wall. Then, in the coloring pages, you’ll find images of famous events, sights and people that have shaped history during the Cold War such as
· John F. Kennedy’s “Ich bin ein Berliner” Speech
· Willy Brandt, etc.
· The Berlin Wall
· The Brandenburg Gate
· Alexanderplatz & TV Tower
· Other related landmarks
Berlin – home, sweet home!
I’ve gone back to Berlin every year. A trip to Berlin is always a little bit like visiting my childhood. I reconnect with friends from high school, go back to places I went to as a kid. At the same time, after having grown up here during the Cold War, now I get to discover and explore the other half of my city and country which, back then, were not easily accessible to me.
I can freely take any exit off the freeway to go explore the countryside outside of Berlin without having a gun pointed at me by an East German soldier. I can swim across a river that was once divided and I would’ve gotten shot at had a swam across “the line”. Everyone can speak their mind, and everyone can travel the world, freedoms that back then only half of my people enjoyed.
The wall surrounding my hometown back then was a very present reality. I didn’t think I would ever see it come down during my lifetime. It was just that much part of my reality. It had always been there.
To experience and live through the fall of the wall, an event that shaped the course of world history, will always be an inspiration to me. And give me hope.
I go back to Berlin once or twice a year to reconnect with family and friends. And to observe the changes, the growth, the reinventing itself of a city that will always be my first home: Berlin.