National Geographic : 1961 Dec
Before the 1948 blockade, West Berlin de pended upon Over There for electricity. The Communists pulled the switches during the blockade and left the West in the dark. The free city then built its own electric power plants, six of them, which now had at least a six-month supply of fuel. Water? West Berlin's supply comes from deep wells, inexhaustible and out of reach of tampering. West Berlin's stores were stocked to over flowing. With Bobsi we toured the huge KaDeWe, the store that sells everything (page 745). She would look at 20 sweaters and 20 pairs of slacks, then buy half a loaf of dark bread and a quarter-pound of butter for study-hour snacks. KaDeWe's food department is on the top most floor of its huge building on Tauent zienstrasse and would dwarf most American supermarkets. To give an idea of its variety, Bobsi asked a girl clerk to name the different kinds of bread at her counter. The girl rolled her eyes to heaven but gamely began reciting. Bobsi kept count and finally announced: "They carry 288 different kinds." Ten Million Germans Flee It was not so much the lure of this pros perity as a human need for basic freedoms that caused so many Germans to flee the regimented life in the East and become ref ugees. When we first arrived, the Fliicht linge were arriving by hundreds each day and, toward the end, by thousands. A newspaperman friend phoned one day and said: "Go to the refugee center quickly. More than 2,000 crossed this weekend, which is 800 more than normal." We went to the Marienfelde camp and talked to Heinz Ritter, the director. We stood amid milling crowds who had traded all but the clothes they wore for freedom. Many refugees told of hope kept alive by the radio broadcasts of RIAS-Radio in American Sector. They called it "Unsere Lebensader"- "our lifeline." Wannsee Beach draws as many as 40,000 bathers on a warm Sunday. Here, in the southwestern suburbs, the Havel River broadens into a chain of lakes that teem with boats. Steamers carry excur sionists as far as the East German border. Other resort lakes that ring the city lie out of bounds to West Berliners. -. , EKTACHROME,WANNSEEPHOTOS© N.G .S .