Turkish garden blooms in shade of Berlin Wall

Thu Aug 20, 2009 9:14am EDT
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By Dave Graham

BERLIN (Reuters) - Osman Kalin is the proud occupier of his very own patch of no man's land.

The cabbages, cherry trees and grape vines that grow on his allotment, a short ride from Checkpoint Charlie, are flourishing on a patch of earth the pensioner accidentally seized from East Germany when the Berlin Wall was still standing.

Kalin's bower has become a popular attraction for thousands of tourists in search of Cold War mementos that have survived the fall of the wall in 1989 more or less unscathed.

One day in 1983, the recently retired Turk decided to clear up a spot of rough ground littered with rubbish on the western side of the Cold War barrier so he could grow vegetables there.

He had no idea the land actually belonged to East Berlin.

"He was very lucky," said Kalin's son Mehmet, speaking on behalf of his 84-year-old father, whose memory is now failing him. "Without the Wall it might never have happened. He never dreamt of having a garden like this when he came to Germany."

The plot lay on a slight kink in the postwar partition of Berlin that East German authorities chose to leave on the other side of the Wall to make construction simpler.

His enclave within the former exclave has since become a symbol of the city's unique divisions and rebirth after the war.   Continued...

<p>The garden and summer house of Turkish pensioner Osman Kalin created by the 84-year-old man on land he seized from East Germany in 1983, is pictured in Berlin August 11, 2009. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz</p>