Walking between my car and LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) along Wilshire Boulevard I had an unexpected experience:
What at first looked like a section of a cement wall decorated by graffiti turned out to be the longest section of the former Berlin Wall outside Berlin, sponsored by the Wende Museum.
Needless to say I determined to find out more about this unexpected sight in Los Angeles.
On a personal level, my husband and I were stationed in Munich, Germany, from September 1970 to May 1972 with the U.S. Army as part of the occupying force to keep the Soviets from overrunning West Germany.
We were part of a military intelligence unit, and as such, we were required to be on the lookout for Soviet spies. One of the other requirements was to keep enough gas in our cars in order to escape out of West Germany if the Soviets invaded.
My romantic suspense spy story CIA FALL GUY is partly based on my experiences living in Germany, and the screenplay THE WIDOW SPRINGER that my husband wrote and I joined in on is a story of the coming down of the Wall.
(As my husband and I had security clearances, we were not allowed to go to Eastern Europe. We stood at Checkpoint Charlie in West Berlin and looked over into the East.)
One of my current writing projects is to write a memoir of being part of the occupying force only 25 years after the end of World War II. I have all my original documents of this Cold War period.
My documents include a copy of the letter I wrote to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam with a donation when lack of funds threatened closure of the site. (The donation had been collected from the few American Jewish military and civilian personnel in Munich at that time.)
The video above is of the Wende Museum’s LA event on the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall coming down, a monumental event for democracy. But the date of November 9th in Germany has more sinister connections. The night of November 9-10, 1938, was when the infamous Kristallnacht action against the Jews of Germany was carried out.
(And, no, it was not a spontaneous response. In 1971 I worked for the Army Air Force Motion Picture Service with a German woman who had been a teen and at night school in Munich that evening of November 9, 1938. She and her classmates were sent home before the action began.)
As a typical American Jew whose grandparents had escaped the Czar’s harshness in the early 1900s, I knew very little of the history of the Jews in Europe. One year after marrying an ROTC Army officer I was living in an Army-supplied apartment in Perlacher Forst in Munich.
For the first time I was reading about Kristallnacht — when I suddenly realized that the current date was November 9 (1970) and I was in Munich, Germany.
It is for these reasons, and more, that learning about the Wende Museum so interested me. This is the mission of the Wende Museum:
The Wende Museum preserves the cultural artifacts and personal histories of Cold War-era Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union to inform and inspire a broad understanding of the period and its enduring legacy.
I encourage everyone to learn more about the history of the Cold War, especially as some political commentators believe we may be headed to a return of those days.
© 2012 Miller Mosaic LLC
Phyllis Zimbler Miller is a former military spouse as well as the author of fiction and nonfiction books/ebooks, including the military fiction MRS. LIEUTENANT: A Sharon Gold Novel and the cozy mystery CAST THE FIRST STONE with a subplot of non-combat trauma PTSD.
The U.S. Navy thriller LT. COMMANDER MOLLIE SANDERS that she wrote with her husband will be FREE on Kindle on Tuesday, November 27th, at http://amzn.to/NUpy9o
She also has an M.B.A. from The Wharton School and is the co-founder of the online marketing company www.MillerMosaicLLC.com