Cold War love and national anthems


Divided Berlin.

Despite all the high-level politicking and antagonism between the opposing forces during the Cold War, there was an agreement with the Russians which allowed British officers in uniform to venture from allied-controlled West Berlin into East Berlin–even if just for a night out.

This was fortunate for me, in a way, not that I was around at the time, but it meant that my father could head out to East Berlin, dressed in full Mess kit and take my future mother on a date while he courted her after they’d met in Berlin.

The way he tells it, they’d pass down its dimly lit streets and old fashioned buildings, stuck in a time-warp from the Second World War, occasionally meeting an East German soldier who would salute smartly, and then go to the opera or to dine at a restaurant.

In those days restaurants usually had bands, which invariably would burst into a rendition of the British national anthem, God Save the Queen, upon seeing a uniformed British officer come through the door–all of this went on despite the respective sets of rulers in the West and East bluffing that they had their fingers on the buttons to launch nuclear weapons at each other.

To me it all appears rather odd and romantic–my parents dating against the backdrop of the interplay of the occupying forces in Berlin,  that is, not so much the possibility of nuclear war. And, as I described earlier, I’m rather grateful for it all as it’s part of what brought me here.