What’s it like to cross the wall?

Elisa Bock

I remember staring at the man in uniform, whose face was as cold and hard as marble. As I handed him my passport, my eyes focused on the metallic gun that he was holding. It was bright; it was sunny, but East Berlin felt sad and gray in the spring of 1990.

Moments earlier, we had, using a hammer, taken chunks out of the Cold War and placed them in our pockets. The Wall loomed over my 4-foot, 5-inch frame, and I felt very small as I tried to comprehend the historical significance of its destruction.

I faced the barbed wire and stony sentinels that made me silent even with a passport out. After passing through the checkpoint, the streets of East Berlin were deserted, and everything was gray and dull. The only noise were the clicks our feet made on the sidewalks, accenting how far we had walked from the border.

Click. Click.

My senses were on edge, and my eyes darted around for any sight of life.

Click. Click. Click.

Finally, an old woman passed us on the streets. She didn’t look up. She stared straight ahead and barreled down the street.

On our way back, my dad spoke in whispers, as if he were afraid of who might be listening. I was silent but every few steps, I would look over my shoulder, expecting a phantom with a gun to chase us down. We passed the soldiers and crossed back into West Berlin, where the city was alive. The ghost town was a thing of the past. nyou