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Old April 16th, 2014, 08:48 PM   #10141
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex_ZR View Post
My father travelled around western Europe in early 1980s and he didn't need any visa, including UK and France.
my parents went to Spain in 1989 and needed visa for France (and maybe even Spain, i don't remember that, but France definitely)
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Old April 16th, 2014, 09:23 PM   #10142
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my parents went to Spain in 1989 and needed visa for France (and maybe even Spain, i don't remember that, but France definitely)
Maybe it got worse in 1980s, but here I see only visas for Greece and Egypt.
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Old April 17th, 2014, 01:20 AM   #10143
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Originally Posted by LMB View Post
Since we're talking about Berlin:

Does anybody remember what it was like to cross to West Berlin by train? My mother did it, but she cannot recall specifics other than "horrible atmosphere caused by People's Army standing with big German Shepherds on a separate platform at [what I think is] Alexanderplatz ".

Any pics anybody? Personal, or second-hand stories?
Around 1959 my grandfather, grandmother and father (small child) crossed from Ostberlin to Westberlin via S-bahn while unofficially leaving Poland "on vacation". Apparently there were some of these big guys who got on the train remarking about amount of luggage on the rack larger than normal for cross-town commuters, but nobody in the train answered them, und so, family stayed in Spandau for a while and applied for/obtained asylum in BRD
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Old April 17th, 2014, 01:44 AM   #10144
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First place I ever had to buy a Visa was on the Yugoslav border in the early 1980s. The only oddity in Western Europe back then was that you were strongly advised to get a stamp on your passport every time you entered and left a country but the current 3 month 'tourist' status applied back then like it does now.
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Old April 17th, 2014, 12:28 PM   #10145
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Not "customs", but "immigration". Like Schengen <-> UK/Ireland: there are no customs (free movement of goods), but there are controls on the people.
There are no controls on people between the UK & Ireland.
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Old April 17th, 2014, 01:43 PM   #10146
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kanadzie View Post
Around 1959 my grandfather, grandmother and father (small child) crossed from Ostberlin to Westberlin via S-bahn while unofficially leaving Poland "on vacation". Apparently there were some of these big guys who got on the train remarking about amount of luggage on the rack larger than normal for cross-town commuters, but nobody in the train answered them, und so, family stayed in Spandau for a while and applied for/obtained asylum in BRD
The border was not strickly enforced until 1961. Million of Easterners fleed communism in 1946-1961.
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In real life, electronic toll collection was first introduced in Bergen, Norway in 1986, and well into the 21th century many countries still struggle to implement it.
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Old April 17th, 2014, 03:05 PM   #10147
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There are no controls on people between the UK & Ireland.
There are actually, people may have a visa allowing them a UK or an Ireland work permit but that will not allow them to travel to the other.

If a Zimbabwean in Dublin wanted to meet a Zimbabwean in London the best way for them to do it is for both to travel to Belfast which is the only _really_ common area.
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Old April 17th, 2014, 03:14 PM   #10148
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Originally Posted by sponge_bob View Post
There are actually, people may have a visa allowing them a UK or an Ireland work permit but that will not allow them to travel to the other.

If a Zimbabwean in Dublin wanted to meet a Zimbabwean in London the best way for them to do it is for both to travel to Belfast which is the only _really_ common area.
If a Rhodesian wanted to travel from Dublin to Belfast there's nothing stopping him/her from doing so once they've arrived in Ireland. Also if a Rhodesian wanted to travel from London to Dublin he/she could do so via Belfast. There are no controls on the movement of people between the UK & Ireland along the land border.

The only controls are by air & sea. And from experience, that's the same all over Europe never mind the rest of the world.

Besides, your analogy is flawed. Said Rhodesian would have the same problems travelling from one country to another (excluding other African countries). They can't even go to South Africa without a visa.
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Old April 17th, 2014, 03:57 PM   #10149
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For East Germans - yes. Thus, they were not permitted to go there.
Wasn't just East Germans, but anyone from socialist countries.

Actually, in theory, there was nothing stopping people from the East going to West Berlin or any Western country. The problem was that they were only issued passports valid for fellow socialist countries - to get a passport valid for "all countries in the world" was more difficult.

East German border guards (like others) would obviously refuse exit to anyone who didn't have the correct passport. But someone with the correct passport had no problems with leaving East Berlin.

Yugoslavia had a creative way to make money from border crossers if I remember rightly - when inflation started to run away in the 80's, you had to deposit a set amount of dinars at the border. You would get the money back in a year, but only the amount you deposited - meaning that you could have potentially lost 25% of your money to inflation in that time.
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Old April 17th, 2014, 05:55 PM   #10150
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If a Rhodesian wanted to travel from Dublin to Belfast there's nothing stopping him/her from doing so once they've arrived in Ireland. Also if a Rhodesian wanted to travel from London to Dublin he/she could do so via Belfast. There are no controls on the movement of people between the UK & Ireland along the land border.
Two problems with that, these 'Rhodesians' were deprecated in 1980 and while there are no PERMANENT controls on the land border there are controls.

Not a problem for EU passport holders but non EU passport holders should be mindful that there are 2 separate entry visa regimes in place in Ireland. I have heard of people id checked on the train to Dublin and finding themselves on a boat to Wales shortly afterwards, and they were the lucky ones.
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Old April 17th, 2014, 07:36 PM   #10151
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eulanthe View Post
Wasn't just East Germans, but anyone from socialist countries.

Actually, in theory, there was nothing stopping people from the East going to West Berlin or any Western country. The problem was that they were only issued passports valid for fellow socialist countries - to get a passport valid for "all countries in the world" was more difficult.

East German border guards (like others) would obviously refuse exit to anyone who didn't have the correct passport. But someone with the correct passport had no problems with leaving East Berlin.

Yugoslavia had a creative way to make money from border crossers if I remember rightly - when inflation started to run away in the 80's, you had to deposit a set amount of dinars at the border. You would get the money back in a year, but only the amount you deposited - meaning that you could have potentially lost 25% of your money to inflation in that time.
Well, then how did my relative visit West Berlin then? He said he didn't need any special visa.
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Old April 17th, 2014, 08:30 PM   #10152
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Actually I know it's crazy but officially East Berlin, too, was not part of the GDR. In the 50's and early 60's there were document checks between East Berlin and the GDR (and no checks inside Berlin). Although East Berlin was officially called as "Berlin, Haupstadt der DDR" (Berlin, capital of GDR), it could not be true de iure (de facto it was true).
Actually as Berlin was de iure, according to the relevant treaties, a city with no state borders inside, East Berlin was not any way allowed to be the part of GDR. However, after the erection of the wall (August 1961) the Soviets and the East German authorities handled East Berlin as part and capital city of GDR - and the western allies did not want to start a war because of that.

About trains. Before the building of the wall all the trains, including local trains (S-Bahn) connected the two parts of the city without any issues. S-Bahn was operated by the East German railways until 1980 in whole Berlin (West, too). When the wall was built, all connecting rails were destroyed in a single night but one single track at Friedrichstrasse and even that was not heavily used (but of course heavily checked).
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Old April 17th, 2014, 09:03 PM   #10153
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sponge_bob View Post
Two problems with that, these 'Rhodesians' were deprecated in 1980 and while there are no PERMANENT controls on the land border there are controls.

Not a problem for EU passport holders but non EU passport holders should be mindful that there are 2 separate entry visa regimes in place in Ireland. I have heard of people id checked on the train to Dublin and finding themselves on a boat to Wales shortly afterwards, and they were the lucky ones.
I think you're getting mixed up here. The op was assuming that because we aren't part of Shengen that there are controls on the border between the UK & Ireland. There isn't.

And as for Wales.......will we English get to vote on your independence ;-)
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Old April 17th, 2014, 09:29 PM   #10154
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The op was assuming that because we aren't part of Shengen that there are controls on the border between the UK & Ireland. There isn't.
Controls = Border Checkpoints. No.
Controls = Random Checkpoints on roads and checks on buses and trains. Yes.
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Old April 17th, 2014, 09:32 PM   #10155
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I think you're getting mixed up here. The op was assuming that because we aren't part of Shengen that there are controls on the border between the UK & Ireland. There isn't.

And as for Wales.......will we English get to vote on your independence ;-)
Who gets Gwent/Monmouthshire?
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Old April 17th, 2014, 10:58 PM   #10156
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Well, then how did my relative visit West Berlin then? He said he didn't need any special visa.
If it was before 1961, then there was a degree of freedom of movement there. Quite a lot of people lived in the East and worked in the West - such people could live very very well as a result.

After 1961, well... difficult to say. The Berlin border was treated as an international border by the East Germans, and anyone without a passport valid for "all countries" would get nowhere near West Berlin.

Quote:
Originally Posted by attus
and the western allies did not want to start a war because of that.
Yes, the realisation that the Western Allies were happy (off the record) for East Berlin to be incorporated into the DDR did a lot to calm Soviet fears. They still protested in the usual symbolic way, but as long as they retained access rights, they weren't really bothered.

A small fact about DDR border controls (at least immigration - don't know if they had a separate Customs service) - they were carried out by a specialised division of the DDR Border Troops. But in reality, they were all Stasi agents.
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Old April 17th, 2014, 11:07 PM   #10157
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I've read there had operated a bus line between Westberlin and Eastberlin. How did it work?
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Old April 18th, 2014, 12:31 AM   #10158
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eulanthe View Post
If it was before 1961, then there was a degree of freedom of movement there. Quite a lot of people lived in the East and worked in the West - such people could live very very well as a result.

After 1961, well... difficult to say. The Berlin border was treated as an international border by the East Germans, and anyone without a passport valid for "all countries" would get nowhere near West Berlin.
Definitely after - sometime in the 80s I think. I don't know what the passports used to say at the time.
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Old April 18th, 2014, 03:20 AM   #10159
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Foreigners -- in this case all people who weren't citizens of West or East Germany or West-Berlin -- only could cross between West and East Berlin at Checkpoint Charlie. There have been other Checkpoints along the line dividing the city, but they were only available for Germans and Berliners of both sides. So foreigners were not be able to use the S-Bahn-Link to the so-called "Tränenpalast" (palace of tears) at Friedrichstraße S-Bahn-station in East Berlin.

However, there have been international trains going through West-Berlin as far as I know, which were open for all nationalities meeting respective passport and visa requirements.

Air travel to and from West-Berlin was limited to three corridors and French, British and American aircraft, as already mentioned above.

Car traffic between West Germany and West-Berlin was restricted to the "Transitstrecke". These were the Autobahns from Hannover, Bad Herfsfeld and Nürnberg as well as Federal Highway 5 from Hamburg which only in the 1980ies was repalced by the new "Transitautobahn", today's A 24.

For goods, there was a third Transit option: The waterway along the Mittellandkanal.

Trasnit rules also applied for road traffic between West-Germany, the Baltic coast, Poland and the CSSR.

West Germans were subject to the so-called "Zwangsumtausch": Each person had to buy a certain amount of Mark der DDR for their DM valuta. Of course, these "Ostmark" only could by goods that were abundant within the GDR, regarding the fact that some goods were only available through "connections" and in the Intershops -- for Western currency. People went into bookstores and bought East German editions of Geoethe's and Schiller's classic literature, which was extremeley cheap and one of the few meaningful things that could be bought für "Ostmark".

My parents, who travelled to Romania for familar reasons in the 70ies and the early eighties always came back with huge amounts of Forints and Lei, since similar laws existed in Hungary and Romania back then.

The reason behind this was that this was an easy access to hard, Western currency for the gouvernments of the Eastern Block states.

West Germans even could pay for consumer products in valuta via the Genex service, which then would be delivered to family and friends within the GDR. Mostly the products were Eastern, but some Western car models like the Citroen GS, VW Golf or Volvo 440 were part of the offer, too.

So the "innerdeutsche Grenze" ("inner-German border", how it was called in West Germany back then, stressing that the speration and hence GDR was not legitimate) was a very strict border, but with very interesting implications.
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Old April 18th, 2014, 10:34 AM   #10160
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Controls = Border Checkpoints. No.
Controls = Random Checkpoints on roads and checks on buses and trains. Yes.
That's not unique to the UK & Ireland, it happens all over Europe too.

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