West_berlin_children_1961

When the war ended the victors wanted to punish the vanquished, set an example for history and recoup some of their costs. They were no longer unified in opposition to fascism and Nazism so, as the war tide ebbed, their differences were exposed. At the heart of Germany the city of Berlin was carved up by the winners according to those differences. How do you split a city, whose bits are as interconnected as the piping in an oil refinery? How do you disassemble a thing like Babylon? They learnt as they did it. Subway trains whistled through stations housed in another sector. Waste water and sewage were pumped up, over or around areas not owned by those who produced it. And a wall was built. Quite a wall. It encircled West Berlin, making it an island in the sea of the Communist East. It was a versatile performer, the Berlin Wall, equally at ease with ideological, social and symbolic division, but it also stopped people looking. It was a veil.

– Mark Cousins, The Story of Looking (2017)

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