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"No, Herr Policeman, Chicago is nothing like your East German Communist Dictatorship."

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sat, 11/8/14 (5:54pm)

What with all the talk of the 25th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall, I recalled an episode that happened to me a bit earlier while visiting East Berlin.

The way it worked is you got to spend a day there but had to be back by midnight or they'd make you pay a fine. Normally we'd go there, visit the sites (such as they were), head to a couple of bars to spend the practically worthless East-German marks, and then head back to Checkpoint Charlie.

One night as we were racing back, we got stopped by an East-German policeman or border guard or I don't know what -- on the final street right before Checkpoint Charlie. "Why", I asked the guard.

"Because you crossed the street against the light," he explained. The fine for this trespass was 20 marks (West German of course). Naturally I grumbled as I handed over the ransom money.

"But," he said by way of defense, "we have our laws, you have your laws. It would be the same in Chicago."

I looked at the deserted street I had just crossed and then the huge forbidding Wall stretched left and right with watch-towers, spotlights and men armed with machine guns -- all to keep their own people trapped inside.

"No," I assured the guard, "this is nothing like Chicago."

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