Readers Gazette Short Stories

Short Story The Wall 25 Years After

The Wall 25 Years After by K.G.Smith PostWar short story

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9th November 2014

25 years they said, since the wall came down, they lied. I know, I was there. They didn't start taking it down until 1990. Yes they opened the gates in 1989, but work never started on that wall for another couple of months.

As soon as the borders opened and the watchtowers were abandoned, I became one the Mauerspechte, the wall peckers. I bought myself a sledgehammer and spent every evening chipping away at it. Aged only fifteen, I was one of the youngest of the Mauerspechte but I worked as hard as any man. People would come by, pick up a piece of concrete and run off. I didn't care; I wasn't looking for a souvenir. I wanted to get rid of that wall and one section of it in particular.

As I started to make cracks, others joined me. With picks and hammers and chisels we slowly made progress. When we got to the reinforcing rods one of the others brought an angle grinder and one by one, we cut through the rods. By the end of that evening we had made a small hole. By the end of the following evening, I could walk right through the wall. I stood on the other side looking out at the blocks that I once called home, and tears filled my eyes.

I sat with my back to the wall and I cried. It had nothing to do with the pain from my blistered and bleeding hands; my tears came from the pain of loss. It had happened on that very spot no more than a year previous. In the gathering darkness I could see us, Papa, Mama and myself, running the two hundred metres through gaps Papa had made in the barbed wire. There were no searchlights, and the towers were dark. Papa had bribed someone to cut the power off for an hour.

We reached the wall and he stood and looked at my Mother.

“The boy first,” he'd said as he put his hands down for me to step into.

I did as he wanted and he and my mother pushed me up until I hung over the top of that monstrous insult to humanity. I turned and sat astride the wall. Mama came next and as he pushed her I grabbed her arms and pulled her up. Soon we were both sitting astride the wall. We both leaned forward lying on the top reaching out to Papa. The wall was too high our hands couldn't reach him.

“Jump,” we said “Jump up and grab our hands and we'll pull you up”

He jumped but it was a half hearted attempt, I think he was worried that his weight would pull us back down. In desperation he walked back from the wall. With a run up perhaps he could get high enough for us to grab him and help him scramble over. He was ten metres away when the power came back on. The hour he'd paid for, had lasted less than ten minutes. The whole area was flooded with light and excited shouts came from the watchtowers. Papa ran as fast as he could but he never made the jump. A single shot rang out and Papa crashed into the wall and gradually slid down.

Mama slid down the other side of the wall and grabbed my leg to pull me down with her. We hugged each other until I pushed her away.

“He may still be alive,” I said. “I have to go back.”

She held me firmly by my arms.

“He's dead Stefan, and it's good that he is. To live after attempting to escape would be worse than death. Now we owe it to your father to make the best lives we can.”

With heavy hearts and tearful eyes we made our way to my uncle's house in Tiergarten.

I don't know why I felt compelled to make that hole. Perhaps with no funeral and no grave to visit, I had to do something to set his spirit free.

Now as the anniversary approaches, my children tell their friends, “Papa was a Mauerspechte” Their friends don't believe them.

“If he was a Maurspechte, why do you not have a piece of the wall.”

I ask you, who would want to keep a piece of such a symbol of inhumanity?

To see more of K.G.Smith's work, click the link to his website or scroll down to the bottom of the page to view his member details Visit K.G.Smith's Website.

Images used for the story are from
Visit Il muro di Berlino nel 1988.

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Short Story written by K.G.Smith

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