November 8, 2009
One Day in East Berlin
An East German Volkspolizei guards the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in East Berlin, 1974, © Jeff Gates. Click on image for a larger view.
I am slowly unearthing photographs and memories from my 1974–1975 trip to Europe. I took this image at East Germany’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I remember thinking the pomp and circumstance of the East German soldiers as they marched in front of the monument reminded me of ours at Arlington Cemetery.
While smoking was much more prevalent in both the East and West in the 1970s, I took notice of the large number of people in East Berlin with cigarettes in their hands. The man in the background on the left is striking a pose I often saw during my time in the eastern half of the city.
From here I went looking for a place to eat and found the cheapest dinner I had throughout my seven months in Europe. It was a full German meal, heavy on the wienerschnitzel with lots of heavy bread and vegetables, all for an astounding thirty cents American. I ate early to get back to West Berlin before dark.
For a young college student traveling on a budget that was the sweetest taste Communism could offer.