About Germany

Every time I need to cross the North-South railway line to the East of our place, I curse the apartheid spatial planning system. Back then, the railway acted as a physical (but also a strong metaphorical) boundary between the more affluent suburbs and the less well off.
And yes, everything else that went with that divide.
The crossing points are few and far between, I’m guessing to make it actually quite difficult to traverse from one side to the other, and that’s still the case today. Even more so, in fact, given that there are far more cars on the road and thus the crossings become pinch points for jams and frustration.

It’s just one of the many ways that SA’s past is still visible each and every day, and although we’re getting somewhere, it will take years of continued hard work before anything close to parity and equality is achieved.

But that’s for another post.

And it won’t be written by me.

South Africa isn’t the only previously divided country though. Remember Germany? The Berlin Wall fell in 1989, but even though we’re now a whole generation and a bit on from there, and even though there are no restrictions on who goes where anymore, the divide between East and West clearly still exists. I came across this amazing collection of maps on this tweet, and I’ve popped the gif here as a video for your ease of viewing (it’s easier to pause):

It’s really interesting to look at each of the individual maps and try to work out what’s happening and why it’s happening, but it’s also fascinating to just let it play through and watch the border – which isn’t actually there, of course – perpetuated through all of those different habits, experiences, demographics and customs.

35 years is clearly nowhere near long enough to overcome decades of – in this case – communism (or, I suppose, if you want to look at it another way: capitalism. Although, back in the day, no-one was trying to flee to the East for a better life, now were they?)