1949 – 1990


i’m working in a land
of chocolate, cowbells and democracy
this is why at 5 AM this morning i forgot
about that wall, dividing families and lives &
keeping us imprisoned with an iron hand
for forty years

but later in the lunch break,
tears run down my cheeks

for men dying on flight & in their guilt,
for not remembering,
for those afraid and forced with gun shots into silence
& for the winners of a system with all losers

this is where it ends,

i won’t shoot fireworks nor raise a flag
but i make sure there’s nothing
in my hand to build another wall between us


Today we’re celebrating our National Holiday, the day of German Unity


28 responses to “1949 – 1990

  1. Claudia, this is wonderful! In 1965 I was a student in Copenhagen and a group of us went down to Berlin, where the Wall was still a relatively new thing. East Berlin officials greeted us and tried to sell us on the benefits of that barrier. Told us even “Good fences make good neighbors” — a reference to Robert Frost. I was the only American present who knew the poem well enough to add, “Before I built a wall I’d ask to know/ What I was walling in or walling out,” and “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,/That wants it down.” They were not happy with me that day. Freiheit uber alles!

  2. Claudia,
    I remember the Berlin Wall, many lives lost and the ecstasy when it came down. Economically it was a sacrifice of the Western for the Eastern half. Nothing like being able to unite as a people! Happy National Holiday!


  3. An event that I did not believe I would see in my lifetime…but glad that I did…more walls have fallen since…just like you I hope no others will be built.

  4. So ironic that one of the big issues atm of the 2012 presidential campaign seems to be whether we should build a similar wall between us and Mexico–it’s insane to me that anyone could think that would work out well on any level. Enjoy (and treasure) your day of unity, because there is always someone trying to divide us. A beautiful and heartfelt poem. Thanks.

  5. Great ending to your verse and yes all those walls should come down and stay down, but always some nut trying to stick ones back up all over town.

  6. Claudia said,”Today we’re celebrating our National Holiday, the day of German Unity…”

    Your very beautiful poetic words here:“this is where it ends,

    i won’t shoot fireworks nor raise a flag
    but i make sure there’s nothing
    in my hand to build another wall between us>>>”

    just about sum-up German Unity Day and place it in a neat [green] package wrapped with a polka dot green bow…Thanks, for sharing!

    deedee 😉

  7. Thanks for this. It was such an impaact to see the wall topple on TV. I remember when I had to go through Check Point Charlie (or travel East Berlin via subway) what a frightening aspect the armed military had. One man had been shot the day before the first time I had arrived in West Berlin and when crossing I always had a sense of vulnerability knowing I could be extinguished based on the decision of a single armed person.

    I remember the precious time I spent with East Berliners in pubs, some cautiously talking about the terrible state of things — most of the younger people, maybe slightly cautious, but not particularly hesitant to express their views.

    Very glad for the re-unification of Germany and the disappearance of East Germany as a totalitarian political unit.

    This poem is representive of poetry from the fifties and sixties and very appropriate to the subject matter. Very nicely done!

  8. How well I remember watching the demolition of that wall, and how glad.
    Your poem is perfect; the final stanza could be an anthem on its own.
    Thank you so much for sharing this.

  9. Great piece. I love how it’s not your traditional remembrance poem. It’s great how it’s more reflective, from obviously a personal position. And you know I didn’t know today was the anniversary but remember it on the news when it happened. Happy Unity Day:)

  10. what a spectacular day that was. my mother and my father’s parents came from italy, and so european history seemed extra important in our home.
    lovely piece.

  11. Claudia, I remember it well. And now, between the walls the US is building against Mexico, and the Israeli wall that is being built with our tax dollars with the unwavering support of the president… I wonder if we learned anything at all. (Note: My daughter is Jewish; I’m not an anti-Semite, but I do believe the Israeli govt. has it all wrong, and Pres. Obama went back on his word to support a Palestinian.state…) This was very thought-provoking. “When will they ever learn?” Amy

  12. Beautiful. Claudia, you are absolutely wonderful. I stood at the wall once. It wasn’t really a wall where I was, but a maze of barbed wire, land mines, dogs, and towers in sight of each other, manned with soldiers with guns, and binoculars, watching us very closely. We were told that those soldiers in the towers were chosen for this job because they are happily married with loving families somewhere on the interior of that great Red area, far away, so that they would be less likely to defect without their families. So much to think about. But Germany is united again, and that is wonderful….

  13. i make sure there’s nothing
    in my hand to build another wall between us


    I visited East Berlin in 1975 — it was stunning. and frightening. and sad. and confusing. I was young and idealistic and convinced I could change the world.

    In the end, people did change the world — and I’m so grateful they did.

    Hugs — and Happy Unification Day!

  14. smiles. sneaks in before bed…

    nice claudia….you stir a lot of emo..i remember when the wall came down…to think of how many we build up each day…as governments and as people in general…keeping those bricks out of our hands is harder than it sounds and means to be ever vigilant…

    sorry i am so late.

  15. A wondrous poem about a wondrous historical event.

    I was thinking not-nice-thoughts about how Reagan played on the event at the time….then I came to your final lines and decided it was time to let my venom dissipate into the soil of my personal history. Thank you.

  16. thanks for the comment, girl friend,

    it is my daily life,

    folks in blogging land only see our posts, which is sad when they judge us based on a poem or a post.

    your poem is elegant, keep it up.

    keep smiling.

  17. …Liebe Claudia, endlich komme ich dazu, mal wieder in deinen Gedichten zu schwelgen… wie schön! (Rentner haben soooo wenig Zeit)…
    …bei diesem Post muss ich aber noch nachträglich kommentieren:
    Vielen Dank! Du hast es auf den Punkt gebracht: this is where it ends…
    Und du deckst die Gefahr auf: Mauern die wir bauen!
    …Ein Gedicht: poetisch-tiefsinnig-realistisch…

  18. This is a beautiful poem, Claudia. Like a talented musician you gently tug at the chords of our hearts and remind us what it could feel like having our hearts wrapped in barbed wire, and how unwrapping it and letting it be free is so special.