Divided by the Wall: a Family's Tale

In South Korea, there's a Berlin place, built around a segment of the wall. In Portugal, there is a monument housing the only piece of the wall to have been blessed by the Pope. The Vatican has its own segment but it hasn't received a papal blessing. And, in Berlin, pieces of the wall are everywhere, including the posh Galeries Lafayette in what was once East Berlin, although little of it still stands in its original place.

"The first demand to buy the wall was written the 10th of November [1989]," Kaminsky said. "The first letter is arriving here in East Berlin to the East German government, and they asked how much we have to pay when we want to buy your wall."

It came from a U.S. businessman.

"The East German government is a little bit confused," she said with a laugh. "First of all, they don't know do they really want that wall will remain open. They have to decide what to do. But for our luck, it was not any longer their decision."

Collecting the Pieces

After that first letter, offers to buy pieces of the wall kept flooding in. One U.S. businessman offered the government $50 million for the entire thing. Eventually, much of the wall did end up getting sold, on the street, in auctions, to governments, organizations and private individuals.

Today, a Polish dentist living in West Berlin "has the greatest private collection of pieces of the wall," Kaminsky said.

Thirty or 40 pieces, and counting.

"He lived with it, too," she said with a shrug. "It has a lot of attraction to a lot of people."

Twenty years after the wall came down, Kaminsky still lives in East Berlin. Now, there's no reason to leave.

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