November 9, 2015, marked the 26th anniversary of the Berlin Wall coming down. The Wall was constructed in 1961, and it finally came down in 1989. The fall of the Berlin Wall paved the way for the German reunification which concluded in 1990 - a country no longer divided.
While I did not get to Berlin on my recent trip to Germany, I did spend some time in Fulda where I lived as a child. Located a little over an hour's drive from Frankfurt, it was home to one of Germany's largest army bases, there to protect the Fulda Gap, a prime invasion route had the Cold War actually erupted into an actual war. With friends in the military and living so close to the border, I was very aware of the divide between East and West.
This trip was my first time back to Fulda in 40 years. The base closed a number of years ago, the city changed a bit as they all do over time and the fences had all been taken down.
I was very curious, though, to see what the old border area looked like, so we took the opportunity to visit an area called Point Alpha, a former observation point that overlooked the Fulda Gap, where US soldiers monitored East German activity along the border. Today Point Alpha is a memorial and museum that houses a multimedia exhibition, a sampling of US military vehicles, a former observation tower, small sections of the border fences and an art exhibit made from scrapped border crossing barriers.
Point Alpha is a fascinating place, especially if you are a history buff or served in Europe in the 60's, 70's and 80's. Walking along the border road, seeing the fences, I could really feel the divide and I could imagine the soldiers watching each other. At the dog guard station, even though the German Shepherd was made out of plastic, dogs growled and barked at it - quite funny actually but it did add to this "feeling".
Point Alpha is well worth the time to visit. It makes one appreciate our freedoms (and those who protect these freedoms) so much more.
As an added bonus, the drive is quite picturesque, especially on a cloudless day like we had. Don't miss the opportunity.
Laurie Marschall - Owner and Founder