As a Berliner, I have come to know a city in transition over the course of my life. When I was born, there was still East and West Berlin, and today I live in a united Berlin.
As a West Berliner, I still live in Spandau. This is the district that was assigned to the British during the Allied occupation.
I grew up with the soldiers. They did my English homework during boring bus rides or crawled through the small strip of woods next to the house during exercises.
When I turned 18, I started working as a German auxiliary for the Royal Air Force. I spent countless nights, besides my studies, looking after the children of the officers’ families and became unemployed when the troops withdrew in 1994.
So what could be more natural than to visit the Allied Museum and reminisce.
About the Allied Museum
The Allied Museum is located in the building of the listed former Outpost cinema and the Nicholson Memorial Library. In the immediate vicinity were the General Lucius D. Clay Headquarters, the Truman Plaza shopping centre and the American Forces Network (AFN) radio station. Some of the housing estates of the US soldiers were not far away.
The cinema was attended exclusively by members of the armed forces.
Before the show began, the American national anthem was played. Even today, you can see the signs above the doors to the cinema hall prohibiting latecomers from entering until the end of the national anthem.
After the withdrawal of the troops, the building was listed in 1995. A few years later, the Allied Museum opened. Today you can see part of the exhibition in the building. The second part of the exhibition is in the building of the American library, the Nicholson Memorial Library. With 25,000 books, it was the largest American library in Berlin.
Our visit to the Allied Museum
Before we went into the exhibition rooms of the Allied Museum, we went to the large open space between the buildings. Here are the exhibits that are a bit too big for the interior rooms.
Impressive – the British airlift plane Hastings TG 503. This plane actually flew to Berlin during the airlift and supplied the city with urgently needed food and coal for the power stations.
In the background you can see the blue dining car of the French military train. This train travelled between West Berlin and the Federal Republic of Germany and transported the French soldiers.
The guardhouse of Checkpoint Charlie and segments of the Berlin Wall are also on the grounds. A look through the windows of the guardhouse brought back memories of the numerous trips and checks through the various border crossings. What waiting times those were sometimes, and how wonderfully we drive the same routes today.
Then we went to the first part of the permanent exhibition in the Outpost cinema. Here, the years 1945 to 1950 are looked at. The focus of the exhibition is the Berlin Airlift. In 1948/49, Berlin had to be supplied by air for several months due to the Soviet blockade. Our parents grew up during this time and many of the objects in the exhibition brought back memories.
Not only the Care Packages, but also the topic of school meals and the events organised by the occupying forces came alive and complemented the exhibits with private stories.
The second part of the permanent exhibition is located in the former library. Here the focus is on the years 1951 to 1994, i.e. the time of the Cold War with its espionage and the daily life of the garrisons. For example, you can look at a small section of an escape tunnel.
In addition, there is a special exhibition here until 28.1.2018 with 100 objects that can be attributed to this period.
And this time it was me who stood there and reminisced. Whether it was about the border buoys that also separated Lake Glienicke and allowed us to swim only as far as the middle of the lake. The border guards looked very closely and scared the hell out of us as children. Or when I saw the settlement slips from the Federal Office for Defence Burdens, which reminded me of the work with the British families. There were so many things to discover and rediscover that had almost been forgotten.
I can only recommend the visit. As a non-Berliner, you discover a lot that you might not have known. As an older Berliner, you refresh memories that should be brought closer to the younger generation so that this time is not forgotten.
Clayallee 135, 14195 Berlin
Tuesday – Sunday: 10 – 18 h