‘Over the Wall’ by Stella Chapman, age 14


My “Over the Border” poem isn’t about a border as you’d imagine; it’s instead, a wall. The Berlin Wall, separating West and East Berlin from the years 1961-1989. It prevented communist-ruled Eastern Berlin citizens from fleeing to the capitalist-ruled Western Berlin during the Cold War. By the time the wall was built on 13th August 1961, 2.5 million individuals had crossed the border from the East to the West, however, many people were too late, and were as a result, separated from the West. Eventually, freedom was announced on November 9th 1989, but the wall wasn’t fully demolished until October 3rd 1990, when Berlin was finally reunited as one, once again. My poem follows the perspective of a young girl growing up in Eastern Berlin and the hardship that was experienced by many under communist rule, from house shortages to disapproval of many religions.


Dear Diary,


8th October 1965 (Age 5)


I wish I could see,

Over the Wall.

Or the big, Iron Curtain as I hear people say.

I want to see my friends,

But Mummy says it’s too grey

Outside, even when the sun is shining.

I want to go to church and pray,

But Daddy says there’s no such thing.

I tell him I miss school,

That I miss my choir, where I sing.

But Daddy just sighs and tells me not now.


15th March 1972 (Age 12)


I wish I could see,

Over the Wall

Or the big, Iron Curtain, as I hear people say.

I can’t use our telephone,

Mum says it’s to keep the spies away.

Our neighbours say it’s brighter, on the other side

Of this 4 metre high border.

But for now, we’re stuck in this bird cage,

With no bananas on the shelves,

With no houses to go around,

And all but a dismal day.


17th January 1979 (age 19)


I still wish I could see,

Over the Wall.

Or the big, Iron Curtain, as I hear people say.

I just want to travel the world,

To places my father would portray,

in my 7-year old’s mind.

I want to fall in love, and be finally free,

From this stupid, ever-lasting, prison of greed.

The streets are full of shouting,

“Tor auf! Tor auf! Tor auf!”

But for us citizens, still no sign of peace.


November 9th 1989 (age 29)


I no longer wish, I could see,

Over the Wall.

As my wish has been granted!

“Down comes the Iron Curtain!!”, 2 million people chanted.

Beer and champagne and tears of joy,

With pick-axes and stones, the wall is destroyed,

We are free to cross to wherever we want,

And now I can start the life,

I’ve always dreamed of.