“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

J. Elke Ertle read from her book, “Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom.” It is the story of how she learned English, entitled, “English according to Herr Kraschinski.”

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIG8iroo4_mio5N8XFdwuyg

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Secret of a good relationship

28/07/2016   |   No Comments »

 

In a good relationship each partner learns to live with the imperfections of the other and appreciates his or her good qualities.

–Anonymous

 

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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The Reichstag – Prominent Berlin Landmark

25/07/2016   |   No Comments »

 

The Reichstag serves as the seat of the German Bundestag (Lower House of German Parliament similar to the U.S. House of Representatives). After having been destroyed during World War II, it was reconstructed between 1994 and 1999 following the reunification of Germany. Visitors can observe the meetings of the Bundestag via a special platform.

The Reichstag in Berlin, Photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2014, www.walled-in-berlin.com

The Reichstag in Berlin, Photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2014, www.walled-in-berlin.com

History of the Reichstag

First Reichstag building

Emperor Wilhelm II ordered the construction of the original building not long after the initial unification of German nations. The Reichstag was designed by German architect Paul Wallot and constructed between 1884 and 1894. Wallot’s design included a large dome.

A memorable event occurred in 1918 when Phillipp Scheidemann, a German politician, shouted from one of the Reichstag windows that Germany had transitioned from a monarchy to a republic. Although the proclamation was premature and made without legal authority, the emperor soon abdicated and Germany, indeed, became a republic – the Weimar Republic – a few days later.

In 1933, part of the First Reichstag was destroyed in the Reichstag Fire. Later, during World War II, the remainder of the building was completely destroyed during allied bombing raids.

First Reconstruction

In 1961, the reconstructed Reichstag building opened its doors again. It did not have a dome and it did not house the government. Based on plans by German architect Paul Baumgarten, it was reconstructed as a conference center and housed a permanent exhibition entitled “Questions on German history.”

Current Reichstag building

In 1994, the artist Christo and his wife Jeanne-Claude wrapped the entire building  in specially made fabric panels. The same year, a second reconstruction of the Reichstag began. This time, the original design was followed as closely as possible and included a cupola. World-famous Lord Norman Foster of Britain was the architect. However, the inclusion of the cupola was not Foster’s brainchild but that of German architect Gottfried Boehm. Foster incorporated Boehm’s idea upon insistence of the Bundestag. In 1999, the Bundestag moved into the rebuilt Reichstag after having been located in Bonn since 1949.

The Reichstag Cupola

The large glass dome at the top of the Reichstag has a 360-degree view of the city and is open to the public. A mirrored cone in the center of the cupola directs sunlight into the building, and visitors can see into the debate chamber of the parliament below. The opportunity to watch parliament in session symbolizes that the people are above rather than at the mercy of government, as was the case during Nazi times.  A spiral walkway allows visitors to walk to the very top of the conical structure. The Reichstag is well worth a visit. But be sure to make advance reservations, as the lines are always long.

  

Inside the Reichstag cupola. Photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2000, walled-in-berlin.com

Spiral walkway inside the Reichstag cupola. Photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2000, www.walled-in-berlin.com

 

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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