Here’s the first of two introduction articles from our friend, Stuart Weir, on Berlin, the host of the 2018 European Athletics Championships. We thank Stuart for his coverage and his keen observation skills.
From the editor of RunBlogRun: My last time in Berlin was in 2012. He was also in Berlin at the 2009 World Championships. I describe Berlin as like the city of San Francisco, only that they speak German. It is a wonderful city, with art, historic buildings and over 175 nationalities, making it a true open city. In 2009, I was staying at a flat and returned around 2 am. The owner of the Chinese restaurant near me was playing checkers I believe with a neighbor. He made me dinner, chatted a bit and I was touched how welcome that they made me feel. Good impressions never leave.
The European Athletics Championships take place in Berlin, Germany 6-12 August, in the historic Olympic Stadium. The city of Berlin is full of history. It has been the capital of its territory since the 15th century – first of the province of Brandenburg, then Prussia and then Germany.
After the second World War, Germany was divided into two countries – the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) under communist rule and the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany). Berlin was also divided with East Berlin, including most of the historic centre of the city being proclaimed the capital of the the German Democratic Republic. The parts of Berlin which were under French, American and British control became West Berlin became a part of West Germany, even though it was entirely surrounded by East German territory and over 100 miles from the rest of West German territory.
In 1961 East Germany began building a wall around West Berlin, which stretched for 28 miles at a height of 11-13 feet 28 miles. West Berlin existed in this strange state 1949 to 1990 when Germany was re-united. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy made his famous “Ich bin ein Berliner” (I am a Berliner) speech in the city in support of West Berlin. The wall came down in 1989, and the united German democratic parliament was established in Berlin. (It is of course ironic that the communist and dictator-ruled East German state called itself the – the German Democratic Republic).
Berlin is now a city of 3.7 million people.