Sunday, May 25, 2014

UBB President Announces New Entertainment for 2014 Spring Commencement

Note:  I just downloaded the news story that follows.  Previous news stories related to it can be found here:

(Campus Executive News Reporting Service, May 25, 2014)  McAdams Mikelas, president of the University of Birch Bay, announced on Saturday that Steve Martin will play his banjo, along with his group the Steep Canyon Raiders, at the UBB’s graduation ceremony on June 28.  The speaker originally scheduled to make the commencement speech, Alexandr Alexandrovich Sasha,  called President Mikelas early Saturday morning to cancel his planned speech because of “urgent business scheduled in late June” for the Russian Duma (parliament). Mr. Sasha is serving his second term as a member of the Duma.

In lieu of a graduation speech, Mr. Martin and his group have agreed to play music without lyrics and to avoid, to the extent possible, any controversial comments between the songs. The group recently released a new album, “Live” (see
Main Administration Building, University of Birch Bay
The invitation to Mr. Sasha had stirred controversy among some UBB students and faculty members. Mr. Sasha, who owns coal mines near Mezhurechensk, Russia, is a billionaire and a close friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin. He has been awarded numerous prizes in Russia for his humanitarian work and his advocacy for higher education. 

Students objected to his role in the coal industry, by which he is, they say, contributing to global warming. Protests against his appearance escalated when, on Thursday night, Mr. Sasha was interviewed by Sean Hannity, telling him that he thought Russian laws protecting society, especially children, from gay people were “necessary.”  He added, “We are a traditional, not a decadent, culture. We protect our children and women."

On Friday, UBB students set up a large protest camp in the vast Karl Liebknecht Square. Several students wearing balaclavas to cover their faces surrounded the UBB’s administration building. One of them, Helen Haleworthy, a junior majoring in Latin, told reporters that if Mr. Sasha is not replaced as commencement speaker by Monday, students would “shut this dump down.”

Saturday morning, Pauli Manaforte’, an American who is one of Mr. Sasha’s close political advisers, issued a press release on his behalf saying that urgent business and a desire to spend more time with his family had forced Mr. Sasha to cancel his role in UBB’s commencement. Neither Mr. Sasha or Mr. Manaforte’, could be reached for comment. 

UBB President Mikelas said that he was disappointed in Mr. Sasha’s decision: “I understand that it is a busy time in Russia, what with the fascists taking over Ukraine and all.”  He thanked Mr. Sasha for his past generosity to UBB and hoped that it would continue. He said, ‘We will send this busy man his honorary UBB doctorate and a membership in the university’s alumni association by Federal Express.”

UBB is one of many colleges, including Smith College, Brandeis College, Haverford College, and Rutgers University, to change commencement speakers due to student and faculty protests. The use of wordless music, or perhaps the use of mimes, in lieu of commencement speeches is seen as a likely trend among American universities. Alternatively, some observers suggest that universities and colleges should be more careful in selecting the people on whom they bestow honor and prestige through invitations to give commencement addresses and award honorary degrees.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Univ. of Birch Bay Students and Faculty Protest Commencement Speaker, Boycott Possible

Note:  I just downloaded this story. It sounds as if the Birch Bay campus is in turmoil. 

UBB Students and Faculty May Boycott Commencement Speaker

(Campus Executive News Reporting Service, May 19, 2014)  Several student and faculty groups expressed outrage on Monday that the University of Birch Bay invited Alexandr Alexandrovich Sasha, a Russian humanitarian and businessman, to speak at its Spring commencement. The Student Society for Democracy (SSD) organized two demonstrations on Karl Leibknecht Square in the center of the campus. Also, the campus libertarian group, Hands Off Me, A**h***s (HOMA) has set up a table by the campus’s John Galt Memorial Fountain where students can sign a petition against Mr. Sasha.

Anita Asperan, SSD spokesperson, told reporters that the invitation to AAS was an insult, “an affront to all progressive students and faculty members.” She continued, “The guy runs a coal mine, for heaven’s sake. And coal is causing the slow destruction of the world’s environment. And our administration expects us to listen to this guy? Hell, no!” She said the group may boycott the commencement if Mr. Sasha speaks.

Jolly Friedman, a member of the HOMA  group, stressing that she does not speak for other members, pointed out that Mr. Sasha is a member of Russia’s Duma where he has voted for all kinds of share-the-wealth policies. She said, “The Russian government steals money from its value creators to give to people who don’t want to work. I mean, free health care, mostly free education, and free government money when you retire at age 55. That’s like Communism. Students shouldn’t have to listen to this collectivist.”

Several faculty members are also upset with the selection of Mr. Sasha as commencement speaker. Forty-five tenured faculty members of the UBB’s Sociology Department, and three tenured political science professors, have signed a letter to the UBB president demanding that the invitation issued to Mr. Sasha be rescinded. Also, they threatened to boycott the ceremony unless the speaker is changed.

Professor Friedrich Sheu (Ph.D., Univ. of Calif., 1969), chair of the Sociology Department, said the invitation to Mr. Sasha should be withdrawn immediately.  Prof. Sheu told reporters, “This guy is an atrocity. He exploits his poor mine workers to make billions. Such a monster does not belong on this campus.”  Prof. Sheu promised to bring the matter before a special session of the faculty senate. He said, “I know that is a pretty d***ed dramatic action, but it must be done!”
Prof. Sheu (left) lecturing to his sociology seminar on Hegemony and Praxis
Mr. Sasha, the man at the center of the controversy, is a self-made billionaire who began his life in a family of poor factory workers in Orenburg, Russia. He now owns the Alexandr Alexandrovich Sasha Coal Mines near Mezhdurechensk and is high on the Forbes 500 the list of Russia’s wealthiest oligarchs.  Mr. Sasha, who has a second home in Vancouver, is a member of the leadership of the Russian Duma and has won frequent awards for his service to humankind and his encouragement of education. He has a son studying at Harvard and a daughter at London School of Economics, from which he has an honorary degree.

Opposition to Mr. Sasha’s graduation speech has upset some students and faculty.  Dudley Evermore, an MBA student from Seattle, objected to actions to limit freedom of speech on the campus. He told a reporter, “I want to hear the guy. He’s made billions and earned the right to speak.  What are the protesters afraid of?  That some success may rub off on them? Bunch of losers.” 

Pro-Sasha Faculty Demonstrator Escorted from
Business School Building by Campus Police
Many faculty members in the Schools of Business, Engineering, and Poultry Science have signed petitions asked the UBB president to uphold freedom of speech on the campus.  Ranier Rainright (Ph.D. Liberty College, 1984), an economist who teaches ethics in the School of Business, said in an interview that he had heard from his pastor that Mr. Sasha was a devout member of the Orthodox Church whose message could be valuable for graduating students. He said, “I am so tired of this “Political Correctness” crap.  Why can’t a good Christian speak on this campus without the crazies waving their hands and screaming their hatred of all that is right and Holy?”

Mr. Sasha, who recently provided a large donation to the University of Birch Bay to support the construction of a new basketball arena seating 15,000 spectators, was not available for comment.
Sketch of Planned A. A. Sasha
Indoor Arena
The groups supporting and opposing Mr. Sasha’s speech at the UBB graduation are planning to conduct rallies and petition drives all this week.  Graduation is scheduled for June 28th.  It will be held at the University of Birch Bay Stadium by the Bay. Each graduating student is entitled to five free tickets, which must be picked up by June 20th.  Other tickets can be purchased from the UBB website for $15 each.

A story about the invitation to A. A. Sasha to speak at the UBB Spring graduation ceremonies, and more information about his life, can be found here:

Saturday, May 17, 2014

University of Birch Bay Announces June Commence Speaker

The president of the University of Birch Bay has announced that the speaker for its Spring graduation ceremonies will be Alexandr Alexandrovich Sasha, famed Russian humanitarian who owns coal mines near the large Raspadskaya Mines in Mezhdurechensk, Russia. Mr. Sasha lives in Moscow, with second homes in St. Petersburg, Simferopol, Sukhumi, Donetsk, Kiev, Uzhgorod, Vienna, Rome, Paris, and Vancouver.
Office of the President of the University of Birch Bay
Mr. Sasha is widely known for his warm heart and generosity, having won the Putin Prize for Humanitarian Excellence in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016.  Also, his investments in education are renowned and highly praised by the Russian presidential administration. He is owner and president of the Sasha-Putin Institute of Nationalism (SPIN), a private institution of higher education located in Mezhdurechensk that is widely known throughout the city’s suburbs. Recently, the Yew of Bee Bee and SPIN entered into an agreement for an exchange of students, faculty members, and executives to further educational excellent and promote world peace. 

Mr. Sasha graduated from public school #4 in Orenburg. He furthered his education by taking some correspondence courses during his decade of detention in a corrective facility in Glasov (Urdmurt Republic). In 2008, he received from President Vladimir Putin a complete pardon for all crimes committed and to be committed, with all of his past and future criminal records to be destroyed. Despite complaints by his critics, no evidence can be found to support allegations that Mr. Sasha has engaged in any criminal activity.
Mr. Sasha in Orenburg Public School #4
Mr. Sasha’s talent for coal mining became apparent in 1996 when he was hired by the owners of several mining companies to “persuade” striking miners to return to work.  In 2000, he was able to “persuade” the owner of some mines near Mezhdurechensi to sell them to him for a reasonable price. Shortly thereafter, he appeared on the Barron 500 list of the wealthiest Russian Oligarchs.  Since then, he has moved steadily up that list.

While Mr. Sasha devotes most of his time to managing his mines, he has found time for public service. He was elected to the Russian State Duma, the country’s parliament, in 2007 and has since been re-elected. A member of the United Russia Party, he is part of the Duma leadership.  Mr. Sasha chairs the Duma Committee on the Deregulation of Coal Mines, and he has headed several special committees investigating worker culpability for coal mine accidents. 

Alexandr Alexandrovich Sasha Coal Mines

The topic of his address will be “The Importance of Freedom of Speech and Tolerance in  Society (Under the Benign Guidance of a Strong and Moral Leader).”  During his visit, Mr. Sasha will be awarded an Honoris Causa doctorate. Also, he will be given a one-year membership in the Yew of Bee Bee alumni association and made an honorary Coniferous Yew.

Yew of Bee Bee Football Stadium by the Bay
The graduation ceremony will be held at the University’s Football Stadium by the Bay, home of the Fighting Coniferous Yews. In the case of rain, the ceremonies will be moved to the Vancouver Civic Center.  Next year, the Yew of Bee Bee plans to hold the Spring graduation in the new Alexandr Alexandrovich Sasha Indoor Stadium which will be completed by March 2015.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Scars of War, Vienna 1947

Flak Tower, now Haus des Meeres

Reminders of World War II in Vienna

If you walk around the older parts of Vienna, you can see a few artifacts from World War II.  For example, when walking down Gumpendorferstrasse between the Gürtel and the Ring, you cannot miss a huge concrete tower, now a public aquarium (Haus des Meeres), that was built as a control tower to combat WWII air raids. Nearby is a shorter, but still massive, concrete structure that housed anti-aircraft guns. Three of these flak towers were built in Vienna with walls up to eleven feet thick, and they still exist.

For more about the Vienna flak towers, see this Wikipedia article:

Among other artifacts of World War II are small reminders of the destruction it caused. They are small plaques attached to the front of many buildings. They typically say that this building was damaged or destroyed during the war and was rebuilt in some year that followed.  Here is an example:

Sign attached to a building located on Raniergasse
This sign says: This house was damaged in the war years 1939/45 and was rebuilt from the resources of the Federal Ministry of Trade and Reconstruction, under Chancellor Julius Raab, in 1955.

These signs are most frequently seen in neighborhoods around train stations, though they are scattered in a seemingly random pattern throughout the rest of the city. For example, a building next to the Laudongasse building (9th district) where I had a room in 1971-72 had a sign showing it had been rebuilt following the war, but no other nearby buildings had such a plaque.

Without such reminders as these plaques, it would be difficult today to remember that Vienna suffered extensive bomb damage during the war years. The rebuilding started right away, and when I was in Vienna during the 1967-68 academic year, I saw few physical reminders of the destructive war that had ended twenty-two years earlier. (However, Austria in 1967-68 had not yet achieved the affluence that was to come. Many buildings, such as the one I stayed in, had apartments lacking individual toilets and bath/shower facilities. And most were still heated by wood or coal. That has changed.)

World War II Destruction in Vienna

In thinking about what Vienna looked like in 1945, I have read enough and heard enough stories to know that the conditions were grim as Soviet soldiers attacked in early April 1945, and they became grimmer soon after that. Hitler had issued a "stay or die" order, and German soldiers fought fiercely, and to the end, for a lost cause.

Even before the Russians came, the city had suffered intensive bombing, and though the bombs were aimed at strategic targets, they managed to destroy some of the city's most important buildings, including the Staatsoper and half of the Parliament building. They also heavily damaged the ancient and monumental St. Stephens church located in the center of the city. (The damage to St. Stephens can be seen in a book, Der Wiener Stephansdom: Nach dem Brand in April 1945 [St. Stephens: After the Fires in April, 1945], prepared by Anton Macku soon after the end of the war; I took at art history course from this fine gentleman in 1968 through the Institute of European Studies.)

A book published in 1995 has chilling documentation of the Russian battle for Vienna. It includes over 400 pictures taken by Russians that had not previously been published. The book is titled Die Russen in Wien, Die Befreiung Oesterreichs (Russians in Vienna, the Liberation of Austria). It contains pictures of the battle for Vienna and the occupation that followed. It shows the devastation that came with the liberation.

Title:  Russians in Vienna, the Liberation of Austria
Last year when I was in Vienna, my friend Jörg, whom I first met in 1971 when I a rented room in a large flat occupied by him, his wife, and his mother, took me to a street in Döbling, an outer district, and pointed to the apartment building where he was living in 1945 as the Russians fought their way into Vienna. He told me this story:  
He was a young kid living with his grandparents. As some Russian soldiers approached the street where the apartment was located, they were fired upon by German soldiers from the roof of his building. After an exchange of gunfire ended, the Russians ordered everyone out of the building and lined them up in front of it. Jörg was in his grandfather's arms. As his grandfather saw that the Russians were preparing to shoot everyone -- they suspected that some of the residents had shot at them -- he tossed Jörg to one of the Russian soldiers standing nearby. About this time, German soldiers, who had moved to another building, starting shooting again at the Russians. The Russian soldier who had caught Jörg tossed him back to his grandfather, and the Russians turned their weapons toward the shooters, sparing the group in front of the apartment.
Such stories make vivid the situation in Vienna as Russians drove the German military from the city. Many stories of suffering, survival, and recovery can be found in the memoirs of people who lived through the Russian liberation of Vienna and the desperate months that followed. Unfortunately, most such memoirs have not been translated into English.

Pictures of Vienna, 1947

In my curiosity about the post-War situation in Vienna, I bought on eBay some pictures taken in Vienna in 1947. According to information on the envelope, they were mailed by K. Redl, who lived on Döblinger Hauptstrasse (not far from the Döbling apartment where Jörg was staying with his grandparents) to S. J. Darling in Appleton, Wisconsin. A stamp on the front of the envelope shows that they were cleared by Austrian censors. The post office cancellation stamp is dated July 4, 1947. They reached Appleton on July 14th. The postal stamps have been removed from the envelope, probably by a stamp collector.

The letter included 20 photographs. The location where each photo was taken is shown on its back. These pictures show that in 1947 much of the bombing damage in Vienna had not repaired. Much work remained to be done.

The following are a selection of the 1947 photos sent in the letter:

Photo of the Ring near the Schottentor (the edge of the University building is, I think, on the left)

Photo of Währingerstrasse, close to Schottentor

Photo of Kärtnerstrasse; the edge of the Staatsoper building is on the left

Two photos of  Kärtnerstrasse between the Staatsoper and St. Stephens Church

Photo of Stephensplatz: St. Stephens Church (without a roof)

Photo of Neuer Markt; St. Stephen's Spire in the background (1st District)
Photo of the Augustiner Rampe near the Staatsoper. Present site of the Augustiner Museum
Photo of Tegetthoffstrasse, between the Augustiner Rampe and Neuer Markt.
The Spire of the Augustiner Church is in background

Three Photos near the Danube Canal (Kai)

Photo Captioned on Back:  "Döbling View from my House"

These pictures were taken at locations that I have often passed since I started to visit Vienna in 1966. They both remind me of a sad chapter in Vienna's history and make me appreciate even more the present beauty of Vienna 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Eden's Berlin Saloons: What Was Going On in 1966?

In my previous blog, I mentioned visiting in August 1966 the "Old Eden Saloon" on Kurfuerstendamm in Berlin. When I wrote about that, something did not seem quite right. To check the accuracy of my memory, I searched a box with papers, clippings, and mementos I collected during my time in Europe in the 1960s and early 1970s. 

I found what I was looking for, a single sheet of paper folded to make a four- page brochure. From this brochure (see below), I determined that I had visited the "New Eden Saloon," not the "Old Eden Saloon." And I confirmed, as I recalled, that Lynda Bird Johnson, the daughter of President Lyndon Johnson, had been there a month earlier. I guess when you are 19 years old and are making your first trip to Europe, such things make an impression.

The Eden chain included not only the "New" and "Old" Edens, but also the "Eden Playboy Club."  I did not visit it, probably because I could not afford it; even if I could have, I'm not sure I had the chutzpah to go to such a place.  

A search of the internet yielded some surprising information about the Eden saloons. Their names were not an allusion to the Garden of Eden, which I suspected, but contained the name of the owner, Rolf Eden. Apparently, he was Germany's hedonistic Hugh Hefner in the 1960s and 1970s. Like Hefner, as recently as 2010, he, in his 80's, had a string of pretty young girls, aspiring actresses no doubt, parade with him in front of the press. In 2011, a movie was made about him in Germany.  

More about him can be found as the following website:

The following is an excerpt from that website:
In his younger days Rolf Eden ran a string of night clubs and discotheques. ‘Eden Salon’, ‘New Eden’, ‘Eden Playboy Club, ‘Cabaret Schlüsselloch’ and ‘Big Eden’, which he sold in 2002, were all something of an institution in West Berlin, and Eden himself is still a popular topic in Berlin’s tabloids. Fifteen thousand nights without sleep, one thousand bottles of champagne and three thousand female conquests – these are the kind of statistics that make good cover stories. And whenever he buys a new car, such as his Rolls Royce Convertible in his favourite shade of arctic white, a snap of him in his new wheels, new girlfriend in tow, duly appears in the news.
In this third part of his trilogy about ego-driven men (DER PANZERKNACKER and ACHTERBAHN being the first two) Peter Dörfler takes a look at the biography of Rolf Eden, a man who invented himself sixty years ago and looms large in the history of city’s colourful nightlife.
Here is the historic artifact documenting what was going on at the Eden Saloons in August 1966. Note that the last page has an advertisement for Gorbachev Vodka.  I assume the name is unrelated to the man who would become head of the Soviet Union more than twenty years later. . 

Page one has a picture with "Linda Johnson" (actually Lynda Bird Johnson, center, facing camera) visiting the New Eden Saloon. The man with her  is -- I think -- Chuck Robb, whom she married the following year. He later was elected governor of Virginia and served in the U.S. Senate. The young woman holding the large boot-glass full of beer (in honor of Texas, I suppose) is not identified.

This page shows the names, addresses, telephone numbers, and hours of operation of the three Saloons. The New Eden was open from noon to 5 a.m. 

The New Eden Saloon  offered a "Mini-Show" at 10 pm. a Las Vegas Midnight show at midnight, and a Sexy-Show at 2 a.m. The featured singer was David (The Red Sea Singer); The Shamrocks, a band from England "famous from television and records," provided the dance music.

The program says:  "Why not come at noon to the Eden Saloon!  Coffee and Food -- American grill specialties daily from noon."

This page shows what was going on at the Eden Playboy Club and the Old Eden Saloon..

The Playboy club apparently had pretty young women who waded in a swimming pool with their clothes on.  It offered "Original Super Dancing" and promised to be elegant, modern, and good value, providing exclusively for visitors:

Lord Knud, the star disk jockey
Eden Go-Go Girls
A swimming pool
Dance competitions
Table telephones
Bathing time (???)
Music movies (early MTV?)

The Old Eden Saloon was obviously for a different crowd. Its entertainment was provided by the Manfred Burzlaff Combo; also Fanja from Moscow played piano in the cocktail room. This saloon offered jazz, the twist, dance competitions, classic films and a cable railway (?).  
The program also announced that the Keyhole Cabaret was reopening on August 19, 1966. 

The final page is an advertisement for Gorbachev Vodka from West Berlin. It is "pure like fresh snow."

This brochure provides an interesting glimpse at a little slice of life in Berlin in 1966.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Visiting Berlin, August 1966

In summer, 1966, after a couple of months washing dishes, sweeping floors, and selling soft ice cream at Hotel Nordsee Halle in Büsum (Germany), I had most of August to see Europe. [1] Although my funds were modest for the month of travel, I was armed with three key travel weapons: a Eurail Pass that provided unlimited train travel within western Europe for three weeks; a copy of Eugene Fodor’s Europe on $5 a Day; and confidence, perhaps based on naiveté, that I could figure out how to see much of Europe on a small budget in less than a month

Before using the Eurail Pass, which later got me to Amsterdam, Stockholm, Oslo, Brussels, Paris, Rome, Vienna, and Frankfurt, I wanted to visit a city where the Pass would not take me: Berlin. This city drew me because it – as a hot zone of the cold war — had been in the news for most of my life. Only five years earlier, in August 1961, it made world headlines when East Germany, as puppets of the Soviet Union, had constructed a wall around West Berlin to stop East Germans from moving there. 

Having grown up in the shadow of the cold war, surrounded by anti-communist rhetoric and fear-mongering, I wanted a taste of what life in the “communist world” felt like. Also, I wanted to see the Wall to perhaps better understand what it felt to be surrounded by it. In addition, I wanted to explore the city that, less than 25 years earlier, had been the capital of the evil Nazi empire.
Postcard showing Bahnhof Zoo at night
I caught a late afternoon train to Berlin that traveled through East Germany using the transportation corridor that had been negotiated with the Soviet Union. (When the Soviet Union had prohibited Allies from crossing their sector on roads or train tracks in June 1948, the famous Berlin Airlift had supplied the city entirely by air for nearly eleven months.) The train made no stops in East Germany, rushing through the train stations of the cities on the route.

The train arrived at Bahnhof Zoo too late in the night to track down a cheap place to stay in the unfamiliar city.  Scouting the area around the train station, I spotted some trees and shrubs on vacant land not far away. There, I found a refuge from noise, traffic, and light, and I settled on the ground for a few hours of sleep. 

 Early the next morning, I spied a listing in Europe on $5 a Day for cheap student lodging. It was located far from the commercial center of the city, but with a good map I got on the right buses and by noon had settled into a comfortable room in a large building surrounded by park land. The room was cheap, clean, and nicely furnished. Unfortunately, when I left it to see the city, I made a big mistake: I hid some dollars in my suitcase, not wanting to carry them around. They disappeared while I was gone. My tight travel budget shrank further. Could I see Europe on $4.00 a day?

Ku'damm and Kaiser Wilhelm Church, August 1966
(my photo)

Berlin did not disappoint. I was impressed with Kurfürstendamm (Ku’damm), a broad avenue that had been the center of entertainment and night life in the Weimar Republic.  Many of the buildings on Ku’damm had been destroyed during the war, but by 1966 they had been replaced, and the busy street was both modern and energetic. 

Among the most interesting sites of Ku’damm was the old Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, a bombed-out shell of a building that was kept unrepaired as a reminder of what happened during World War II. It was flanked by new, ultra-modern church buildings that had opened in 1961. One was a very tall round building, the other a much shorter round building. They were known as the Lipstick and powder box buildings.

Two pictures of the Berlin Wall, August 1966 (my photos)
 Of course the most interesting thing about the city was the Wall.  I walked miles along the wall, seeing that in some locations it was only a few feet from tall buildings whose windows and been covered with bars and lumber. I kept an eye on the guards in towers along the East German side of the wall, who were keeping an eye on me. In truth, the existence of the wall was deeply perplexing: what kind of people would build such a thing?  I felt that I had a little better understanding of the seriousness of the differences between East and West.  

I made a day trip into East Berlin through the famous Checkpoint Charlie. In doing so, I had to exchange a specified amount of German marks (a hard currency) to East German marks, which were worthless outside of East Germany. The required conversion gave East Germany a much-needed flow of hard currency.
Check Point Charlie, August 1966 (my photo)

The crossing was not a simple or relaxed procedure. [2] It involved multiple encounters with unsmiling men and was overseen by grim soldiers carrying weapons. I was happy when I finally made it into East Germany, but even happier when I departed.
Brandenburg Gate: View from East Berlin, August 1966 (my photo)
I walked around the heart of East Berlin; starting at the Brandenburg gate, I strolled up Unter den Linden, the city’s most famous boulevard. I had a meal at a cheap cafeteria, and went to see the Pergamon, one of the city’s famous museums. Mostly, as was my want, I walked around different parts of the city to see how people lived. I was amazed that so many buildings damaged in World War II were still unrepaired.
Picture of a propaganda sign in East Germany celebrating the 5th anniversary of the erection of the Berlin Wall. It features a crying fat-cat capitalist (my photo)

East German military guard at a war memorial, August 1966 (my photo)
In addition to the time spent with the wall and in East Berlin, I visited West Berlin’s famous Dahlem Museum, tramped around the 1932 Olympic stadium, and walked around different city parks and neighborhoods. I also visited the zoo by the Bahnhof Zoo. I do not remember who took the picture of me there.

Me and the other elephants the the Berlin Zoo, August 1966

One night, I stopped by the New Eden Saloon (which had been the site a few months earlier of a publicized visit by Linda Bird Johnson).[3] This loud, multi-room Ku’damm cave was a full-fledged 60s joint, with early hippy overtones, decorated with funky art and wild colors on the walls and ceilings. The saloon was inhabited mostly by college-age students drinking beer, scarfing reasonably priced food, and enjoying the music.  

After three days in Berlin, I returned to West Germany and began my frantic trek through Europe. I returned to West Berlin in April 1972, traveling from Vienna by train to attend a conference. By then, Berlin was livelier, richer, and more modern, offering an even greater contrast to the drabness of East Berlin and the shame of a wall needed to keep people prisoners in the Eastern bloc. 

In November 1989, I, like millions of other people, watched television in amazement as the wall was toppled and was stunned when, with unthinkable speed, the two Germanys were reunited.  In the late 1990's, I traveled again to Berlin and was surprised at how quickly most traces of the wall had completely disappeared; it was difficult to find any remains of it. Interestingly, barriers had been put up to protect the few small sections of the wall that was still standing.


[2] The Berlin border crossing was unpleasant in 1966, but I know now that snarling unpleasant border crossings were not unique to East Germany.  I have experienced similarly nasty scrutiny by stone-faced agents when entering and exiting Russia and when entering the United States from Canada through the border at Blaine, WA.   

[3] Update: I originally wrote that I was at the "Old Eden Saloon," but deep in my files I found a brochure that I took with me from the visit. It turns out that I was at the "New Eden Saloon."  The Old Eden Saloon was at Damaschkestrasse 21. The nightclubs owned by Rolf Eden included The Eden Playboy Club, which was at Ku-damm 156.