Support our mission

BERLIN — The party's over, at least for now.

Overworked West Berlin city employees struggled Monday to overcome litter, paperwork and fatigue following the surge of more than 1.5 million East Germans into the city over the weekend.

Some retailers rushed to restock their shelves. Others remained well-supplied, despite the astonishing crush of East German visitors who, because of their money's limited purchasing power, were more inclined to look than buy.

City workers who toiled overtime during the weekend were back on the job Monday. "They're all at work, but their strength is slowly coming to an end," Berlin Senate spokesman Hans-Friedrich Müller said.

Sanitation workers, on the job by 5 a.m. every day since the wall crumbled on Thursday evening, hauled away 1,000 more tons of trash than normal. They had done only a cursory job before Sunday night because the streets were full of people, department spokeswoman Carin E. Reich said.

The Kurfürstendamm, a boulevard renowned for shopping and entertainment, turned into a mile-long trail of empty beer cans, hamburger wrappers and other trash.

Retail businesses on Monday also began recovering from the weekend.

At the Super 2000 grocery in the glittering downtown Europa Center, shelves of coffee, breakfast cereals, cookies, perfume, soap and toothpaste looked as though they had been raided by looters.

A harried employee said East Germans also snapped up bananas, oranges, mushrooms and canned and fresh pineapples. Such produce was still in stock Monday, but the man said the shop would need weeks to recover from the onslaught in other areas.

The Heinrich Heine bookstore on Hardenbergstrasse, under the city's main train station, restocked its shelves with a delivery five times the usual order, manager Hans Brockmann said. Easterners ransacked the tiny shop for books that are either unpublished or in short supply back home.

A book by rehabilitated East German communist author Walter Janka disappeared from the bookshelves in hours.

"The demand for it is endless," employee Fried Eickhoff said of the book "Difficulties with the Truth," a history of 1956 Stalinist show-trials in East Germany.

"We and -the publisher's supplier have no more at the moment," Eickhoff said. "They won't be back until tomorrow."

Books on Josef Stalin and German history went at a brisk pace, as did. the works of Sigmund Freud, Leon Trotsky and several East German authors whose works were banned in their homeland.

But hundreds of customers also left with television or movie books on "Dirty Dancing," "ALF" and "Black Forest Clinic." Rock star biographies and karate manuals also were popular.

Clothing purchases were a different story.

A management spokesman for the C & A clothing stores said the company's eight Berlin outlets sold much less to the East Germans, who couldn't afford much beyond inexpensive underwear, stockings, shirts and sweaters.

The chain already had shipped extra supplies of those items from its other West German outlets to Berlin on Friday, the day after East Germany opened its borders, and still has plenty on hand.

U.S. military officials said the flow of East Germans had little impact on their operations.

Army Maj. Bernard Godek, the access control officer for the U.S. Comd, Berlin, said each new border crossing in the city's American sector has two military policemen on duty there around the clock.

Müller said the American sector will have a total of three new crossing points to East Berlin and three other ones to East German communities by the end of Tuesday.

But the opening of the Berlin borders has not affected the military community otherwise, a command spokesman said.


stars and stripes videos

around the web

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up