The Berlin wall crumbled – and I smelled cake

By Sarah Fichtner

Illustration Ashbee Wong

I was 10 years old when the wall came down. The wall that divided my hometown, creating the artificial “island” of West Berlin. I remember climbing on top of it on the 10th of November 1989 together with my parents, my best friend Susi and our brothers. I was scared of falling. It was really high. But the wave of joy and excitement spreading between the people around us made me forget the height.

In my memory, the fall of the Berlin wall smells like freshly baked butter cake which my Mom would offer to strangers sitting in our kitchen. They were chatting with my parents while sipping JacobsKrönung coffee. I liked the cake – and I liked listening to the strangers. They had a different dialect. The wall had been torn down and they were from the other side. Curiosity was in the air. And sharing, much sharing.

30 years later, my Mom would explain to me that she had been baking a cake almost every day for weeks after the 9th of November 1989: She was expecting some distant relatives from Dresden to whom she had lost contact, to show up at our place. As they never came and as my Dad was tired of eating the cake just among ourselves, he went out on the streets and invited friendly-looking visitors from the “East” to have coffee and cake in our kitchen.

© Ashbee Wong –