This is my first time in Berlin. I’m with a group of 50 women from eight different countries who have gathered to celebrate the 30th anniversary of 5W, the wonderful women’s friendship organization that I first joined in 1994. 5W stands for Women Welcome Women World Wide, one of the husbands refers to it as World Wide Wild Women Welcome.

It has been a busy week of meeting old friends, making new friends and exploring this interesting city. It is the largest city in Germany, the capitol but still a million fewer residents than before WWII. I’m learning lots of history about Berlin and Germany. The division of Berlin following WWII, the Berlin Wall and the final reunification of the city is a tribute to human resilience. These events all happened in my memory, that makes it especially interesting. I was taking a French class in Boston in 1989 when the Wall fell. There were German students in the class who were lamenting that they couldn’t be in Berlin for the most historic happening in their lives.

A small remaining section of the Berlin Wall

A small remaining section of the Berlin Wall

This doesn’t look so impressive today but there were actually two walls some 30 yards apart, enclosing an area known as ‘no man’s land’, patrolled by armed guards who were to shoot anyone trying to cross the area. The wall was 100 miles long and completely encircled the city of West Berlin. The city had been 95% destroyed by bombing during the war. It lacks the charm of many old European cities, the buildings are newer and modern but it is a vital and lively city.