Monday, 9 November 2009
Remembering Checkpoint Charlie
These memories come to mind on this the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. I was fifteen years old in 1963 and it was shortly after President Kennedy's visit to Berlin that Mick O' Connor, myself and several dancers were on a tour of Germany, on behalf of Conradh na Gaeilge, representing Ireland at a World Youth for Peace Rally. We had played in Koln and Stuttgart when we received a surprise invitation to visit Berlin.Permission was also granted to visit East Berlin and as we were crossing over at Checkpoint Charlie Mick and I decided to have a little fun with the American soldier and speak in our school Irish. Didn't fool him as he called after us " Enjoy your visit Paddy". During the day we played for our dancers on the street and the very shy people really enjoyed it. We were obliged to exit by midnight and found our way on a train going east instead of west.Having figured this out we got off the train and were greeted by several fully armed East German and Russian soldiers.One of the dancers got a little too smart with the soldiers and the rest of us had to wait several hours until they decided to release him.