A Berlin Notebook
The traveler to Berlin in 1957 needs no visa or permit of any kind. This was the first surprise, and it was followed by others, including the discovery that crossing the inter-zonal barrier which divides the city into a Western-controlled and a Soviet-Controlled sector is about as difficult as traveling from Piccadilly Circus to East London. In fact it is done by exactly the same process: buying an underground ticket. One can also, if one is so minded, make the crossing in broad daylight, strolling through what is left of the Brandenburg Gate and watching the expression on the faces of the Volkspolizei. The ordinary Berliner—thousands work in the Eastern sector though domiciled in the West, and vice versa—has long since adapted himself to life in a city with two administrations, two different transport and utility systems, two telephone systems (which do not connect), and similar legacies of the postwar split. He or she travels forward and backward on the rail and underground network linking the two worlds, and apart from occasional police check-ups designed to discourage smuggling (mainly of subversive literature, i.e. anything printed in either of the two zones) there is little to indicate a departure from normality. Even the process of exchanging West marks for East marks, at the official rate of one to four, has been mechanized to the point where the only remaining issue is the East German complaint that the exchange rate set by the West is unfair to the Communist administration.
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