Now that I have my Berlin bike back on the road, after a little maintenance, I’ve been riding along the Anti-Fascist Security Rampart, as it properly called, although it was dubbed the ‘Berlin Wall’ in the West. It was built as a response to the enthusiastic enlistment of ‘former’ Nazis by the American, English and French occupation forces after the Second World War. The policy was then followed by the Adenauer regime in West Germany in the 1950s, which by means of ‘article 31‘ gave preference to ‘former’ Nazis for public service positions. Meanwhile, the same regime systematically prevented large groups and organisations of young people from visiting the east – blocking the border, detaining them, etc. Hence, the Antifaschistischer Schutzwall.
So I set out to try on my bike to try and gain some sense of what the thing was about. Some bits – more than you imagine – are still standing:
Especially in the city parts:
These are of course the parts that became associated with the wall, which in the fevered imagination of Western propaganda attained vast proportions – Churchill’s ‘iron curtain’ or Willi Brandt’s ‘wall of shame’, cutting Europe and thereby the world in two .
But most of the rampart actually ran through countryside – 155 km around all of West Berlin:
And there’s a bicycle route that follows it all the way:
The clear sky and nice sign may be a little deceptive, for it is actually winter:
And as is the way with German cycle routes, they can vary in quality:
But after you get past the annoying crowds in town, hanging around Brandenburger Tor or the Reichstag, most of it is through some wonderfully quiet countryside. No one else is idiot enough to cycle the icy route in winter.