Berlin wall 1989

Berlin had always held a huge fascination, it is an iconic European city defined by its history. Travelling there for the first time in August 1989 in the ‘sealed’  train from Dusseldorf was full of excitement only heightened by the discovery of a blood stained woman in the corridor of the carriage. She had fallen against a toilet door and was not badly injured.


Helping his sister look through a crack in the wall, 11/89

Being in a divided city was exciting and a trip the East Berlin was an important addition. Seeing shattered buildings from world war two and a way of life that had not changed much since then meant there were many photographic opportunities.  The trip to Berlin was a holiday, time to relax, but coming upon the British army fixing metal steps into the side of river to help those fleeing from the East added a degree of excitement especially as East German border guards decided to roar up and down the river in a speed boat.

On leaving Berlin by train I made the mistake of photographing the border crossing at Potsdam resulting in my arrest and confiscation of my passport. Luckily I was rescued by a retired professor of microbiology who happened to be sitting in the next seat. She spoke perfect English and my passport was returned together with a 100DM (£30) fine!

Three months later I was back in Berlin photographing the unthinkable, the wall was down. It was a cross between an important historical even and large European party. I spent a week moving from west to east with no restrictions and I could photograph the border with impunity.

Charity feeding station for visitors from the East, in central West Berlin, 11/89

Please note: all images are the copyright of Colin Shaw and must not be reproduced, copied or published in any medium without written consent. Prints for the original negatives are available, please enquire here.