SWFL man, German native, remembers fall of Berlin Wall

Author: Adam Wright
Published: Updated:

ESTERO, Fla. – As bombs fell over Germany during World War II, Wolfgang “Wolf” Kraft was just a boy.

“British forces bombed my hometown of Leipzig. I was 3 and a half years old when both of our apartments on either side collapsed,” Kraft told WINK News

After the war ended, Kraft grew up in East Germany under an oppressive, communist government.

“It was illegal for people to leave. In the west there was better job opportunities, there was democracy, the people weren’t suppressed,” Kraft said.

Kraft’s mother would occasionally sneak illegally into West Germany for work. Food in East ermany was scarce and she had to provide for her two sons. They later escaped to West Germany as a family and came to the United States when Kraft was a teenager.

“I was in awe for the first time when we sailed into New York and I saw the Statue of Liberty. It was very emotional for me,” he said.

Over time, like Kraft and his family, more and more Germans started escaping into West Germany.

“That’s why the wall had to be built, to prevent East Germany from totally collapsing. Once the wall was up it was almost impossible to get out. To me, it symbolized a prison.”

When the wall finally came down in November 1989, like many Americans, Kraft watched it on TV.

“I was very emotional obviously, I felt a relief for those people who, technically speaking, were in prison over there.”

Kraft now lives in Estero with his wife Rosie, who he met in Minnesota. But every year on November 9 his thoughts are in Germany.

“I think how fortunate I was not to have been caught behind the wall, because you kind of feel sorry for those people. I was very very fortunate also to come to this country and enjoy the freedom here tht many take for granted.”

Kraft worked as a writer and publisher in Minnesota for many years. He and his wife have two children and three grandchildren together, and retired to Estero in 2005. Kraft’s brother Gunter still lives in Minnesota and visits in the winter.

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