Berlin Brandenburg Airport – A Sisyphus project?

February 19th, 2018

The Berlin Brandenburg Airport was supposed to open in November 2011. After many setbacks, the most recent opening is slated for the end of 2019 at the earliest. https://www.thelocal.de/20170831/berlin-airport-to-open-at-end-of-2019-at-the-earliest-report/. In the meantime, Berlin’s new International airport has turned into a modern-day Sisyphus project. In Greek mythology, Sisyphus was condemned to roll a huge boulder uphill, only to watch it roll back down every time he neared the top of the mountain. Given legendary German efficiency, what happened?

Berlin Brandenburg Airport, still closed as of February 2018. www.walled-in-berlin.com

Berlin Brandenburg Airport, still closed as of February 2018. www.walled-in-berlin.com

Berlin Brandenburg Airport opening delays

In 2006, construction of Berlin Brandenburg Airport began. Grand Opening was slated for October 2011. But the projected opening had to be delayed due to bankruptcy of the construction planning company. A new date was set for June 2012. This time, it was going to be the real thing. Everything was ready to go. As the new opening date drew close, airlines, shops and restaurants prepared for the grand opening. A logistics plan was put into place for moving infrastructure from the old airport to the new. RBB (Rundfunk Berlin Brandenburg) prepared for 24-hour live coverage of the move. The first departure was scheduled. But less than four weeks before the move, the opening was postponed again. Since then, the airport opening date has been pushed back numerous times with no definite end in sight.

June 2012 projected opening delayed. Reason: Major technical difficulties, including the fact the new terminal had not passed the fire safety and smoke exhaust systems checks. A new opening date scheduled for March 2013.

March 2013 projected opening delayed. Reason: More construction flaws. Change in airport management. New opening date scheduled for late October 2013.

Late October 2013 projected opening delayed. Reason: More of the same. The airport authority announced that the opening would be further delayed without citing a specific opening date. 2014 at the earliest, possibly not until 2015. http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/berlin-brandenburg-airport-delayed-again/

2014 and 2015 projected openings delayed. Reason: Safety issues, permit expirations, corruption, mismanagement, another change in airport management. Berlin Brandenburg is not expected to open before 2016 or 2017. http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/berlin-brandenburg-airport-boondoggle/

2017 projected opening delayed. Reason: More technical issues, Approval of the underground station did not occur in time.

The real cause for the Berlin Brandenburg Airport delays

Apparently, the Berlin Brandenburg Airport construction was plagued by too make cooks stoking the fire. Three different entities were in charge, but none had complete oversight. As a result, major technical issues went unnoticed or were ignored; there were many personnel changes, but none addressed the actual problem. In the meantime, workers and contractors took advantage and lined their own pockets. Corruption and financial issues plagued the project. With each postponement, the Sisyphus’s airport project rolled down the hill again.

Compare the Berlin Brandenburg Airport fiasco to the Berlin Stadtschloss reconstruction. http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/stadtschloss-berlin-reconstruction/ and http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/berliner-stadtschloss-to-humboldt-forum/  Although the Stadtschloss project has another year to go until the planned opening, to date, it is on target in terms of time and budget. https://www.berliner-zeitung.de/berlin/-die-schloss-eroeffnung-wird-2019-sein–23793604 In the Stadtschloss reconstruction project, only one entity was in charge, the “Stiftung Berliner Schloss.”

 

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. Walled-In is my story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting out of the rat race

February 15th, 2018

Sure, it’s nice to get out of the rat race, but then you have to learn to get along with less cheese.

— Anonymous

If you want to get out of the rat race, you have to learn to get along with less cheese. www.walled-in-berlin.com

If you want to get out of the rat race, you have to learn to get along with less cheese. 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 Walled-In is my story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.

 

Volkswagen comeback with e-generation bus

February 12th, 2018

 

During the course of the past 70 years, Volkswagen has experienced greater highs and lows than any other automaker. Invented by Ferdinand Porsche, Adolf Hitler first introduced the VW Beetle’s prototype in 1938. http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/those-tough-little-beetles/ World War II stopped its production. Ten years later, British occupation forces offered Heinrich Nordhoff the management of the war-damaged plant in Wolfsburg. Mr. Nordhoff is credited with putting Volkswagen on the map. http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/mr-volkswagen-heinrich-nordhoff/ Eventually, production of the VW Beetle exceeded that of Ford’s Model T. Then in 2015, greed almost put Volkswagen out of business when news spread that the company had deliberately rigged emission systems in its 2009-2015 diesel cars at home and abroad. http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/volkswagen-when-greed-meets-technology/ Company stock declined 20% on the first day and another 17% the following day.

Now Volkswagen is hoping to make a comeback. CEO Herbert Diess recently announced production by 2022 of the all-electric, fully integrated “I.D. Buzz.” This state-of-the-art e-generation vehicle is intended to make Volkswagen a worldwide bestseller once again.

The Iconic Volkswagen Type 2 Camper Bus

Remember the two-tone, air cooled, rear engine VW camper bus from the 1960s and 1970s, so popular with young people at the time? In the United States, it was called the “Volkswagen Type 2.” Those economical, trouble-free and easy to repair vehicles seem to have remained close to the hearts of many from that era. I never owned a VW bus but I was once the proud owner of a VW Beetle. I have to admit I loved it dearly.

New e-generation Volkswagen I.D. Buzz

.D. Buzz concept bus on the right alongside the iconic Volkswagen Type 2 bus on the left. Courtesy of newsroom.vw.com. www.walled-in-berlin.com

I.D. Buzz concept bus on the right alongside the iconic Volkswagen Type 2 bus on the left. Courtesy of newsroom.vw.com. www.walled-in-berlin.com

Tentatively dubbed the I.D. Buzz, Volkswagen’s newest vehicle is scheduled to target the North American, European and Chinese markets. It is designed to accelerate from 0 to 60 miles/hour in less than five seconds and top 100 miles/hour. A powerful battery pack in the floor of the chassis should give the vehicle a range of more than 350 miles, and with a fast-charge system it will be able to recharge to 80 percent of its energy capacity in 30 minutes. The 369 horsepower of the I.D. Buzz exceeds by far the 30 hp of the first Volkswagen bus sold in the United States in 1950. In addition, the I.D. Buzz will be capable of Level 3 autonomous driving, which means that the vehicle will be equipped to take over all driving functions in a less-complex highway environment (i.e. all vehicles moving in the same direction, no pedestrians, no complex intersections).

Volkswagen involved in new snafu

I was almost ready to forgive VW for its “Dieselgate” transgression when it came to light that the company recently conducted tests with Java monkeys. Ten animals were locked into small chambers for four hours at a time to breath in diesel fumes to prove that the pollutant load from diesel motors has measurably decreased. Come on Volkswagen, did you really have to abuse animals for this? Sadly, BMW and Daimler were also in on the tests.

https://www.nbcnews.com/business/autos/vw-exec-suspended-over-use-monkeys-emissions-test-n843656

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 Walled-In is my story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.

 

Perseverance Drives Success

February 8th, 2018

Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom.

— General George S. Patton

Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom. www.walled-in-berlin.com

Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom. 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 Walled-In is my story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.

 

5 February 2018 – half-life of the Berlin Wall

February 5th, 2018

Half-life is the time required for half of something to undergo a process. Today, on February 5, 2018, Berliners celebrate the halfway point between the Berlin-Wall-era and the post-Berlin-Wall-era. In other words, today the Berlin Wall will have been down for exactly the same number of days that it once stood, namely 10,315.

The Day the Berlin Wall went up

The Berlin Wall went up on 13 August 1961 and divided the city for the next 28 years. The purpose of the monstrosity was to stop the massive exodus of East Germans who were seeking a less controlled and more prosperous life in the West. Prior to the construction of the Wall, an estimated 3.5 million people had defected from East Germany.

The East German government called the barrier an “Anti-Fascist Protective Rampart”, necessary to protect East German citizens from western fascist elements who supposedly were intent on undermining East Germany’s efforts of building a utopian socialist state. The West German government called the barrier the “Wall of Shame.” During its 28-year existence, the Berlin Wall was continually fortified with guard towers, anti-vehicles trenches, beds of nails, dog runs, a death strip and shoot-to-kill orders.

Berlin Wall. Photo © J. Elke Ertle. www.walled-in-berlin.com

Berlin Wall. Photo © J. Elke Ertle. www.walled-in-berlin.com

The Day the Berlin Wall came down

The Berlin Wall stood until 9 November 1989 when it unexpectedly fell in the wake of a misunderstanding. http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/the-day-the-berlin-wall-fell/ At an East Berlin press conference, Guenter Schabowski, an East German government official misread a new policy that was intended to allow select East Germans to visit the West with proper approval. http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/schabowski-sparks-the-fall-of-the-wall/ Instead, Schabowski mistakenly announced that visits to the West would be permitted “immediately.” http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/brinkmann-or-ehrman-the-crucial-question/ Within minutes, masses of East Germans headed for the Berlin Wall crossings points. Without specific orders and quickly overwhelmed by the crowds, East German border guards opened the checkpoints. http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/who-really-opened-the-berlin-wall/ Following that initial border opening on 9 November 1989, there was no going back. Within days, the Berlin Wall began to be dismantled for good.

 

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 Walled-In is my story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.

 

Gateways to new beginnings

February 1st, 2018

 

Nothing is predestined. The obstacles of your past can become the gateways that lead to new beginnings. 

— Ralph Blum

Open the door to new beginnings. Yesterday's obstacles can turn into today's gateways to new beginnings. Photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2015. www.walled-in-berlin.com

Open the door to new beginnings. Yesterday’s obstacles can turn into today’s gateways to new beginnings. Photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2015. 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 Walled-In is my story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.

 

Berlin Sculpture symbolizes city history

January 29th, 2018

Berlin is the capital of Germany, a city that was divided into East and West from 1945 to 1989 and brutally severed by the Berlin Wall from 1961 to 1989. But Berlin is also the name of a well-known sculpture, the Berlin Sculpture, located in the median of the Tauentzienstrasse, not far from the famous Kaiser Wilhelm Gedaechtniskirche. http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/iconic-kaiser-wilhelm-memorial-church/. If you are positioned just right, the sculpture will frame the church perfectly.

 

Berlin Sculpture in the median of Tauentzienstrasse with the Kaiser Wilhelm Gedaechtniskirche in the background. Photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2017. www.walled-in-berlin.com

Berlin Sculpture in the median of Tauentzienstrasse with the Kaiser Wilhelm Gedaechtniskirche in the background. Photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2017. www.walled-in-berlin.com

How the Berlin Sculpture came about

In 1987, two years before the fall of the Berlin Wall, the city celebrated its 750th anniversary http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/berlins-long-history/ To commemorate the occasion, the city of West Berlin commissioned a group of artists to create artistic sculptures for its main boulevard, the Kurfuerstendamm. The eight winning sculptures went on display. Husband-and-wife team, Brigitte Matschinsky-Denninghoff and Martin Matschinsky, created one of these eight sculptures and placed their creation within close proximity of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, the house of worship that was so heavily damaged during the bombing of Berlin during World War II. http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/the-battle-of-berlin-ended-wwII/

The Berlin sculpture consists of four chromed nickel steel tubes, shooting up into the sky, seemingly courting each other without touching. By placing the cylinders in close proximity, yet inaccessible to one another, the Matschinsky-Denninghoff sculpting team tried to represent Berlin’s situation in a symbolic way. From a certain angle, the Berlin Sculpture looks like a broken chain whose links are severed, which symbolizes the division of East and West.

To everyone’s surprise, only two years after the Berlin sculpture was created, the Berlin Wall fell quite unexpectedly. http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/the-day-the-berlin-wall-fell/ Today, the sculpture is a reminder of Berlin’s history during the Cold War.

 

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 Walled-In is my story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.

 

 

 

When one snowflake joins another

January 25th, 2018

 

A snowflake is one of God’s most fragile creations, but look what they can do when they stick together!

— Anonymous

Snowflakes change the world one snowflake at at time. Photo © Malik Tamimi, 2016. www.walled-in-berlin.com

Snowflakes change the world one snowflake at a time. Photo © Malik Tamimi, 2016. 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 Walled-In is my story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.

 

 

Strandbad Wannsee – still popular

January 22nd, 2018

Strandbad Wannsee has been a popular public swimming area in Berlin, Germany, for the past 100 years. It is located on the eastern shore of the River Havel, where the river forms a large bay, the Grosser Wannsee. Its broad, shallow beach is almost one mile long and is replenished annually with sand from the Baltic. Four historic two-story, clinkered buildings are arranged in a row parallel to the beach.

Strandbad Wannsee is one of the largest such inland lidos in Europe. It is run by the City of Berlin, and on a hot summer day, up to 30,000 visitors take advantage of this public beach. There is something for everyone: Strandkorb and deckchair rentals are available, http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/distinctly-german-the-strandkorb/ a separate nude-bathing section is offered, http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/the-skinny-on-nude-bathers-in-germany/ and a water slide, a playground for children and a park and promenade for the entire family are on hand.

 

Strandbad Wannsee as seen from the River Havel. Photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2017, www.walled-in-berlin.com

Strandbad Wannsee as seen from the River Havel. Photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2017, www.walled-in-berlin.com

History of Strandbad Wannsee

Following Germany’s first unification in 1871 http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/otto-von-bismarck-visionary-or-villain/, the City of Berlin experienced an unprecedented population growth. Existing housing could not absorb the sudden influx, so that inhabitants ended up packed into tiny flats like sardines, without much light or fresh air. As a result, residents sought escape in the great outdoors. But their yearning for sun and fresh air caused a new problem because the moral standards of the time demanded that men and women not bath within sight of each other.

In 1909, a public beach and swimming area – which eventually became the Strandbad Wannsee – was constructed at the River Havel. It was built with distinctly separate sections for men, women and families. The sections were separated by wooden fences, each containing tents that served as changing facilities. Changing stations were surrounded by yet another fence to discourage looky-loos.

After World War I, the City of Berlin took over Strandbad Wannsee. In 1924, the tents were replaced by thatched pavilions, and the sanitary facilities were improved. By then, the S-Bahn, Berlin’s elevated train system, had opened and made the area more accessible. During World War II, Strandbad Wannsee provided a welcome escape from the devastation in the city.

Pack your swimsuit … and off to Strandbad Wannsee

In 1951, eight-year-old Conny Froboess turned Strandbad Wannsee into a household word with her song Pack die Badehose ein … und nichts wie raus nach Wannsee (Pack your swimsuit … and off the Strandbad Wannsee). Conny was only two years older than I, and I envied her for being able to ride her bike, unsupervised, to the Wannsee lido. I only dreamt of such autonomy. The song, written by her father, became one of the great hits of that time.  To hear Conny Froboess, click https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhZEba0SWNs

 

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 Walled-In is my story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.

Patriotism Defined

January 18th, 2018

 

Patriotism is supporting your country all the time and your government only when it deserves it.

— Mark Twain

 

What is Patriotism? Photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2017. (United Nations, New York). www.walled-in-berlin.com

What is Patriotism? Photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2017. (United Nations, New York). 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 Walled-In is my story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.