Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Eastern Europe 1990: East Berlin and the Wall

A now-empty East German guard tower
looms above the Berlin Wall.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I had a long-running relationship with the World Missions Department of the Church of God that took me to many countries and resulted in the production of more than 60 audio-visual programs to promote and raise funds for the Church's mission efforts.

In March, 1990, just four months after the opening of the Berlin Wall, the  World Missions Department, in conjunction with the Department of Youth and Christian Education, sent Louise and me on a three-week tour of Eastern European countries to gather photographs, video footage, and script information to create an audio-visual program to inspire the young people of the Church to raise money to print Bibles for distribution in the former Communist countries just emerging into freedom. This is the first in a series of posts about our travels.

I'm late starting this series because I didn't think about doing it until Monday, after posting about my 24 hours in Mayalan. Actually, by this date in 1990 we were in Yugoslavia. But we'll backtrack to East Berlin and March 9, just four months after the Berlin Wall was breached.

East Germans file through the checkpoint
at the Brandenburg Gate.

The previous day we had toured the plant in Frankfurt where Bibles were being printed in Eastern European languages. On the 9th we spent the day making photographs and shooting video of West Berlin street scenes and East Germans coming into the West through the Brandenburg Gate and other checkpoints; and of people chipping away at the wall with hammers and chisels. (I still have a small bag of pieces of the wall.)

Climbing on the Wall near the Brandenburg Gate.
Chipping away at the Wall.
Hello, World!

I was working with my Olympus OM and Leica M cameras, while Louise was using an S-VHS video camera, a state-of-the-art semi-pro video rig at the time. Her load was heavier than mine, so I had to carry some of her equipment in addition to my own full camera bag. Louise, by the way, in addition to being beautiful, has a very good eye and feel for light. Better than mine, in fact. If she chose to be a serious photographer she could run circles around me.

March 9, 1990. The Rev. Billy Graham preaches
at the historic Gethsemane Evangelical Church.
A packed house of rapt listeners.

That evening we had the privilege of photographing a momentous occasion: the Rev. Billy Graham preaching to a packed house at East Berlin's Gethsemane Evangelical Church. East Germany, the birthplace of the Protestant Reformation was once again fully open to the gospel.

Going from the sublime to the ridiculous, the next morning we boarded the dirtiest and shabbiest airplane we have ever seen, a Yugoslav Airlines two-motor job holding about 20 passengers, and were off to the country which at that time was known as Yugoslavia.

(All photographs were made on Fujichrome 100D film except for the last two, which were made on 3M 640T film pushed one stop to E.I. 1280.)

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