“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

Surrounded by the stone-and-mortar Berlin Wall and trapped behind equally insurmountable parental walls, a young girl breaks free and seeks independence far from home. I was that girl. Walled-In is my memoir. It is the story of the first 21 years of my life, growing up in West Berlin during the Cold War when the city was divided into American, British, French, and Soviet occupation sectors.

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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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Patriotism Defined

18/01/2018   |   No Comments »

 

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.

 

 

Three Girls and a Boy in the Nude

15/01/2018   |   No Comments »

 

I am referring to the “Drei Maedchen und ein Knabe (three Girls and a Boy)” sculptures in Berlin, Germany, of course. In case you were thinking of the human body in the buff, keep in mind that, as the Germans like to say, God created the human body and McDonalds formed it. I neither agree nor disagree with that statement. I am just repeating what I heard. Anyway, unlike many human specimen, these four life-size bronze sculptures are perfectly proportioned. Is that because they never dined at McDonalds? Who knows.

These sculptures were created by German sculptor and stone cutter, Wilfried Fitzenreiter, and currently sit at the water’s edge along the Spree promenade, across from the Berlin Cathedral. http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/Berliner-Dom-Transforms-Multiple-Times/ One girl looks down St. Wolfgang Street. The other three youths watch the hustle and bustle on the River Spree.

Three Girls and a Boy were once located at the Palasthotel

Originally, the four sculptures frolicked around the fountain of the Palasthotel, located at Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse 5, right behind the Berlin Cathedral. In those days, the hotel – despite being located in East Germany – was closed to East German guests because it showcased many western products. Western merchandise was rarely made available to the East German public. Instead, the East German government frequently hosted distinguished foreign guests at the Palasthotel, which accepted only western currency.

The Palasthotel – part of the East German Interhotel chain – was also an important player in the Stasi surveillance of many foreigners who entered East Germany. For that reason, the hotel got the nickname “Stasi-Nest.” On an ongoing basis, Stasi officers monitored guests of “special-interest” here, using hidden cameras and microphones in corridors, elevators, reception areas and in selected rooms. Approximately 25 to 30 rooms were equipped accordingly and reserved for such special-interest guests. http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/the-stasi-and-how-it-worked/

Three Girls and a Boy moved to the Banks of the River Spree

In 2001, following German reunification, the Palasthotel was demolished because of asbestos contamination, and the four sculptures were temporarily stored. When the hotel was rebuilt in 2003, now part of the Radisson group, the fountain and the Three Girls and a Boy sculptures did not return. Instead, the foursome moved to their current location along the eastern bank of the River Spree in 2007. As an interesting aside, during demolition, a 550-pound American WWII bomb was found at a depth of 13 feet. The bomb had rested in the ground, undisturbed, for 55 years. It was defused on the spot.

Three Girls and a Boy (Drei Maedchen und ein Knabe) sculptures on the eastern shore of the River Spree. Photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2017. www.walled-in-berlin.com

Three Girls and a Boy (Drei Maedchen und ein Knabe) sculptures on the eastern shore of the River Spree. Photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2017. 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.