“A unique parallel between a young girl’s life in an uncompromising family and the tensions mounting on both sides of the Berlin Wall as she finds a way to freedom. A remarkable journey.”

—Zohreh Ghahremani, Author of Sky of Red Poppies

Walled-In

In her memoir, Walled-In, J. Elke Ertle shares what it was like to grow up in West Berlin, Germany, during the aftermath of World War II, a time when the city was divided into American, British, French, and Soviet occupation sectors. Initially, forty percent of all structures in the city were destroyed. There was little food or shelter. Many died, but Elke’s family survives.

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About the author, J. Elke Ertle

J. Elke Ertle was born and raised in West Berlin following World War II, a time when the city was the focus of an escalating Cold War between East and West. During the first twenty-one years of her life, she lived with her mother and father in the British sector of the city and was known by her first name, Jutta.

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Living History with J. Elke Ertle on YouTube

J. Elke Ertle shared her eye witness recollections of President John F. Kennedy’s 1963 Berlin visit in a conversation with Stephen Fagin, Associate Curator, Sixth Floor Museum at Daley Plaza, Dallas Texas. The Museum’s Living History Series recognizes Kennedy’s life, assassination and legacy.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lCh0uFDtm4

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Hope is like a balloon

30/07/2015   |   No Comments »

Hope is like a balloon, it can’t soar to the heavens if you hold it by the string.

–Lindsey Boucherly

 

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Cold War Spy Tunnel under Berlin

27/07/2015   |   No Comments »

During the height of the Cold War, US and British Intelligence Services constructed a secret spy tunnel under Berlin, just twenty feet beneath the surface. The project was known as “Operation Gold” in US Intelligence circles and as “Operation Stopwatch” among their British counterparts. The plan involved tapping into Eastern Europe’s communication cables. The spy tunnel was to serve the western Allies as an early warning system by keeping them abreast of Soviet military intentions in Europe. Spying operations were far from unusual during the Cold War. The Soviets were tapping a cable that served the American garrison in Berlin. It was located near Potsdam.

Spy Tunnel Construction

To be able to listen in on Soviet conversations, US and British Intelligence Services constructed a 1,476-foot long spy tunnel from a point in the West Berlin district of Rudow to Altglienicke in East Berlin’s district of Treptow. Construction of the tunnel was a major engineering feat. One of the cables was located only 27 inches beneath the surface and along the edge of a major highway. http://www.coldwar.org/articles/50s/berlin_tunnel.asp

The tunnel tube segments were constructed in the British sector of the divided city, at Airport Gatow . By May 1955 the first cable tap took place. Wire-tapping continued for eleven months. During that time, the Western Allies listened to close to 443,000 calls, which were recorded on 50,000 tapes. http://www.faqs.org/espionage/Ba-Bl/Berlin-Tunnel.html – ixzz3cz0f2d1YThree hundred specialists were involved in transcribing the tapes in London and Washington.

Spy Tunnel Discovery

Then the big surprise! The Soviets had known about this top-secret operation since inception. A mole in the British Secret Intelligence, who had been involved in the project from the beginning, had alerted the KGB of the CIA’s plans. The double agent’s name was George Blake. To protect his identity, the KGB kept knowledge of the tunnel close to their vests and did not even alert Soviet authorities of its existence.

Eleven months into the wire tapping, the Soviets claimed to have discovered the spy tunnel and turned its “discovery” into a successfully orchestrated propaganda blitz. Over the next six months, they carted around 30,000 “deserving” East German citizens to the entrance of the tunnel (Geheime Orte in Berlin by Claus-Dieter Steyer, © 2014) and pointed to America as a nation of warmongers and to West Berlin as a breeding ground for espionage. The Soviets used the discovery of the spy tunnel to demonstrate the effectiveness of socialist security.

Spy Tunnel Segment in Allied Museum

A 7-foot segment of Berlin’s spy tunnel can still be seen in the Allied Museum at Clayallee 135 in Berlin’s District of Zehlendorf. The segment was unearthed in 1997.

 

For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, “Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom,” click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of http://www.walled-in-berlin.com

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