Mrs Eklöf-Berliner-Mauer: The woman who married the Berlin Wall
11.8.2023 by Poppy Smallwood - The course of true love never did run smooth. The story of how a Swedish lady married the Berlin Wall.
It was a lover and his lass. Photo: via kotzendes-einhorn.de
On August 13, 1961, amidst rising tensions between East and West Germany, and much to the surprise of ordinary Berliners, the construction of the Berlin Wall began. Locals regard the anniversary with mixed emotions, but for one eccentric woman, it would have been an occasion for a birthday cake, candles and perhaps even a present. Because it’s important to celebrate your husband’s birthday.
He was a wall. She was a girl. Can I make it any more obvious?
Eija-Riitta Eklöf was born in the little town of Liden in Sweden in 1954. She was just seven years old when the Berlin Wall went up, but she claimed it was love at first sight when she first saw the majestic structure on television. As a child she began collecting photographs of ‘him’ from newspapers and magazines, later adorning the walls of her room with pictures of her heartthrob just like any other teenage girl. In her teens and early twenties she saved money for romantic visits, during which they became increasingly close.
The early days of the Berlin Wall. Photo: IMAGO / UIG
We don’t know who popped the question, but on her sixth trip in June 1979, they officially tied the knot – it’s ok, we’ve done the maths, and can confirm that he was 18 years old at the time. It was an intimate ceremony with only a handful of family and friends. She hired an animist who claimed to be able to communicate with the Wall, and who was able to communicate his (hopefully enthusiastic) “I do”. Being a progressive young couple, they went for the triple barrelled married surname of Eklöf-Berliner-Mauer (Eklöf-Berlin-Wall).https://www.exberliner.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/08/12565516_1752292461659597_4029398133086045390_n.jpg
Eija-Riitta Eklöf-Berliner-Mauer and a replica of her late husband. Photo: ▻https://www.facebook.com/Traditionsverband.NVA.Polska/photos/a.1752291644993012/1752292461659597/?type=3
Eija-Riitta insisted that she had a full and loving relationship with the Wall, although presumably communication was sometimes difficult. She explained that she found “slim things with horizontal lines very sexy… The Great Wall of China’s attractive, but he’s too thick – my husband is sexier.” He was the strong, silent type, and she knew in the end that he’d always be there for her. Until of course, he wasn’t.
The Berlin Wall falls, 1989. Photo: IMAGO / Sven Simon
Ecstasy and tragedy – Eija-Riitta is widowed
In 1989 the world looked on with wonder as the Berlin Wall was torn down by euphoric Berliners. It must have been a terrible day for Mrs Berlin Wall, as she watched people trample, beat and hammer away at her husband’s defenseless body. He was only 28 years old, taken before his time, and Eija-Riitta became a widow. “What they did was awful. They mutilated my husband” she commented tearfully after the event.
Just as Eija-Riitta’s life was defined by her love of inanimate objects (she was said to have conferred her affections to a garden fence after her husband’s ‘death’), so also was her death – she died in a house fire in 2015.
However you choose to commemorate the anniversary of the start of construction of the Berlin Wall, take a moment to think of Mrs Berlin-Wall, and to remember a solid relationship like none other.