After the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945, the Potsdam Agreement stipulated that Berlin would be occupied by the four major allied powers of World War II: the Soviet Union, the United States, the UK, and France. But the war’s end seemed to herald an even graver danger: a world split into two hostile camps, both armed with nuclear missiles. The East, with the centrally planned economies of the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies, faced the West, with the democratic, market-driven economies of the United States and its NATO allies. Nowhere was this tense rivalry more starkly depicted than in the divided city of Berlin, deep inside Communist East Germany.
My first Article 15 happened when I was a 17 year old paratrooper stationed at the Rhine Kaserne, Germany. Bored one weekend I left the kaserne with a friend and took a bus to Weisbaden. We spent our time drinking and ended up late at night crashing a formal convention. We helped ourselves to the ample supply of champagne that was placed on crisp white table cloths as the conventioneers looked at us with disgust.