Berlin Wall, Berlin
The Berlin Wall Memorial stretches for nearly a mile and if you come here by metro there are two stations that can be used - either the Bernauerstrasse U Bahn or the Nordbahnhof S Bahn. I arrived at the Nordbahnhof which was not only convenient for the nearby Visitor Centre but also included an exhibition about Ghost Stations.
The city wasn’t only divided above ground it was also divided below ground and Nordbahnhof was one of these stations that was manned by armed guards to prevent trains from West Berlin stopping and East German people from escaping.
The station’s exhibition is part of the Berlin Wall Memorial and an interesting introduction to the rest of the site.
Across the road is the rusty looking Visitor Centre which should be the place to start your tour. Apart from providing information there is also a film about the wall on the upper floor. One word of warning! If you start browsing around the Bookshop your time will disappear rapidly. If you intend leaving by the Nordbahnhof after your tour I suggest that perhaps you just take a look at the film and pick up some info from the desk and return to the bookshop on the way back. Only my opinion of course.
From the Visitor Centre walk over to the Memorial site. The whole area is presently divided into 4 sections and how much of it you want to cover is going to be a personal choice. It’s an ongoing project and I reckon the most important bit to see is Section A which is where you will be now.
The history of the Berlin Wall is well documented, and although there are remnants of the wall elsewhere in the city, it’s only fitting that the Memorial is sited on Bernauerstrasse.
The street literally became a frontier when the fronts of the houses became the Eastern borderline and the pavements outside were in the West. Consequently it became a place of escape attempts, many of whom jumped from the windows onto the street below. The East German authorities responded by evicting all the street’s inhabitants and blocking up the windows.
Since the Wall has come down Bernauerstrasse has become a symbol of the division of the city.
Section A is sub-titled ‘The Wall and the Deathstrip’ and this is exactly what you see here just as it would have been back in the 1980s (or as near as).
In the centre of the strip is the ‘Window of Remembrance’ showing the pictures of some of the 136 people who lost their lives at The Wall. There are also plenty of information boards to explain everything so there’s no need for me to go into it here.
Exit by way of the gap in the wall at the top end and make your way up towards the Documentation Centre. Be prepared to meet plenty of school kids here but whatever you do don’t miss the opportunity to climb the steps up to the Viewing Platform for a bird’s eye view of the wall and Deathstrip below.
While you’re up here you can’t fail to notice the Watchtower which should be the next thing to take a look at across the inner wall.
Section A finishes at Ackerstrasse and if you want to visit the Chapel of Reconciliation cross over the street into Section B.
This was as far as I got but I intend to try and come back to see the rest of the Memorial at some point in the future.
Including a visit back at the Visitor Centre bookshop I’d spent half a day here which will give you an idea on how long a full visit could take - but I would suggest if you want to get a good idea of what life at the wall was like then you should definitely come here.
Directions: Mitte - NW of Alexanderplatz
The Cold War started in late 1445, and continued to fester until it really got cold. During our Korean War effort to fight Communism, Russia was prodding Chinese to assist. It worked, and we, as Americans learned one of the first lessons, stay out of it. That only led to more coolness. In 1961, as a promise to a threat, a part of the wall was put up one night around Russia section of Berlin. How in the world it did not happen until then, I am dumbfounded. In a few weeks it surrounded what was then called East Berlin. It ended up being about 30 miles around east/versus west sectors. it was orn down in 1989. Only a small part-maybe 5-6 blocks remain, but markings on the road show other parts that had the wall dividing.
Berliners aren't likely to forget the Berlin Wall any time soon, but just in case, their government has reconstructed a partial stretch of the wall at Bernauer Strasse and Ackerstrasse (U-Bahn: Bernauer Strasse), at a cost of 1.43 million euros. The 70m-long memorial consists of two walls that include some of the fragments of the original wall (those fragments not bulldozed away or carried off by souvenir hunters). The memorial is mostly made of mirrorlike stainless steel. Slits allow visitors to peer through. A steel plaque reads "In memory of the division of the city from 13 August 1961 to 9 November 1989." The section of wall I am in front of has a very interesting picture of a policeman in a bit of trouble.
Although the Wall came down in 1989, you can still see the trace of the former boundary along its former route.
The trace is characterized by either different-colored concrete, or a dual line of bricks placed in the ground, with plaques that read "Berliner Mauer 1961-1989" placed periodically along it.
The photo is of Friedrichstrasse, and you can see the trace at the bottom left (the dual line of bricks in the street).
Most visitors to Berlin are aware of Checkpoint Charlie which is located at the southern end of Friedrichstraße in Kreuzberg but as someone who wants to visit the not so well known, I decided to visit Checkpoint Bravo. Very few visitors ever go to what was a very busy checkpoint during the cold war. There were in fact 2 Checkpoint Bravos. The original, which was smaller, was closed when the Autobahn route was changed by the GDR at the end of the 1960s. Originally because of the unusual route, the Autobahn ran for 2kms through East Germany after the crossing point. The route was changed so you entered West Berlin immediately after the checkpoint. There is little left of the old checkpoint. Three flagpole for use by the allies. Behind the flagpoles there was originally a long wooden hut, which was the checkpoint building. The building was unfortunately demolished soon after it was closed. The only building still standing, is the rest stop restaurant but as it was abandoned over 40 years ago and it is in a dilapidated condition. The site has recently been sold to a mystery buyer, so its future is uncertain When I visited there had been a snowstorm the previous day so it was not possible to pick up on the old markings and other signs of the old Autobahn route but I will probably revisit on a warmer day.
Photo 1 is of the 3 flagpoles of the western allies. The checkpoint building was immediately behind the flagpoles.
Photo 2 is of the old rest stop restaurant
Photo 3 shows some of the damage inside the old restaurant
Photo 4 shows part of the old Autobahn route
Photo 5 was shot on the old Autobahn Bridge over the Teltow Canal
Address: Albrechts Teerofen, Berlin14109
Directions: I caught the S7 to Potsdam Griebnitzsee Station. You turn right along Rudolf-Breitscheid-Straße and more or less follow the Berliner Mauerweg route which is marked by signposts.
The wall separated East Germany from West Germany for more than a quarter-century, from the day construction began on 13 August 1961 until the Wall was opened on 9 November 1989. During this period, at least 98 people were confirmed killed trying to cross the Wall into West Berlin.
Today you can still find same traces of the building.
Little is left of the Wall at its original site, which was destroyed almost everywhere. Three long sections are still standing: an 80-meter (263 ft) piece of the "first (westernmost) wall" at the site of the former Gestapo headquarter half way between Checkpoint Charlie and Potsdamer Platz; a longer section of the "second (easternmost) wall" along the Spree River near the Oberbaumbrücke nicknamed East Side Gallery; and a third section with hints of the full installation, but partly reconstructed, in the north at Bernauer Straße, which was turned into a memorial in 1999.
The following link will show you where in Berlin you can find remains of the wall: http://www.visitberlin.de/bilder/kultur_neu/teaser/plan_mauer_gross.jpg
Potsdamer Platz is one of the places where you can see and touch the historic Berlin Wall that used to divide not only West Berlin from East Germany but also West and East in general. During almost three decades it was an icon of the Iron Curtain. It was constructed in 1961 and dismantled in 1989.
Directions: Potsdamer Platz
Berneauer Strasse was a special place during the times of the wall. The two Berlins were as close together at this place in town as they could be. Around this area many tunnels were build and many people escaped through this tunnels. Others were caught and brought into prison in the GDR. The Berlin wall museum tries to tell their history. There are tons of newspaper articles, GDR scripts etc. to have a look at. A huge TV screen is showing moveing pictures of building the wall, and the first days of the wall, when people tried to escape through the wires or people who were jumping out of the windows in Bernauer Strasse. For example there were houses that stood in the east, but the back of the houses was in the west.
From a viewing platform you can have a look on the remainings of the wall. There is a small area where it´s still seen as it was...two walls....the "Todesstreifen" in between and a lamp post.....
It´s a very intersting exibition and a must for all who have been in Bernauer Strasse before 1990. If you follow the streets around the museum, you can see the street scenes you saw in the exibition. It´s great to see, how it has changed I think. And how it looked like in the old days.....
Address: Bernauer Strasse 111
Phone: +49 (0) 30 / 464 10 30
The Berlin Wall was a continuous work in progress that evolved over the years. It was not a single wall but a series of well thought out and constructed obstacles. There was an inner wall on the eastern side. Then there was a signal fence which alerted the guards. This was followed by sharp steel spikes, the patrol road, security strip, tank traps to stop cars and finally the border wall. There were also watchtowers every 250 metres, dogs running loose on some sections, landmines and automatic guns that could be set off. At night the border was brightly so much so that it could be seen from space. The inside faces of the wall were painted white so that it would show up escaper better.
Whilst on my travels following path of the Berlin Wall I came upon the park at Nordbahnhof. The park runs parallel with Gartenstrasse which is an old arterial road with some notable buildings. There is also an entrance on Bernauer Strasse close to the Nordbahnhof Station. The area was part of the border fortifications for the Berlin Wall and the border is marked on some of the footpaths. The park is unusual in as much that it is a raised long narrow strip of land and it is popular with walker, joggers, cyclists and those who just want to soak up the rays. This was originally part of the Nordbahnhof station and the train route went to Szczecin and Pomerania, and the current train tracks run close by. There are a number of entrances into the park, which was completed in 2009 at a cost of over 1million euros.
Address: Gartenstrasse & Bernauer Strasse
Directions: One end is close to Nordbahnhof Station.
The 9th of November was a Thursday in 1989, and I was still at Magdeburg, on next day many people managed to get a seat on a flight to Berlin, and I stayed there for the weekend. I didn't get back before Monday noon, and by that time I had missed a test in History - but what History teacher wouldn't accept the excuse I had?
Berlin wall is probably the most popular object, that associate city of Berlin, the split of both parts of Germany and cold war.
Berlin wall was constructed in 1961 and was used to border two parts of Berlin - East and West. It was made by East (so called Soviet block), as immigration to western Berlin had huge tempo. Some meters nearby the wall was called "death strip", as many people was killed here trying to get to Western part of Berlin without permission.
Maybe it is not beautiful example of architecture (just a concrete), but it gives a look to recent history.
Directions: Center of Berlin.
The Wall was built in 1961 to keep skilled workers from leaving the money-depleted East from moving to the West. The city was divided after the war in 1948 and though the Wall was torn down in 1989, the city still exudes a feeling of being two distinct entities. There are still small sections of the Wall remaining as a memory of the past and a tourist attraction.
Directions: This portion is along the Spree River just up the street from Warschauer S-Bahn station, very close to the Sunflower Hostel.
Update: Feb 2013 - the crosses are back!
There are some very sad stories - an American soldier helped a family to escape by giving them American military uniforms to wear which they did and they were successful in their escape. However, the American soldier, when re-crossing with the family papers, was not so lucky.
The most famous of tragedies is Peter Fechtner, who, at 18 years of age, on the 17 August 1989 (only a few months the wall was torn down) was shot and left to bleed to death, watched on by the guards.
In memory of all the 191 people who died trying to scale the wall, there is a memorial, opposite the Brandberg Gate. White crosses are tied to the fence, flowers are left and Information on the victims is displayed. There is a small collection tin, should you wish to donate towards it. Rumour has it that whoever is responsible for the flowers is fighting to keep the crosses in place.
Directions: bus 100
Not too far from Unter den Linden and the Brandenburg Gate is an area where the Berlin Wall has not been taken down and left as a reminder of the Cold War and the tragic division of Berlin that took place from 1961 to 1989.
A great movie to watch that goes into the history of the wall is The Tunnel .
Here I am with my pink umbrella standing in an area that once was East Berlin.
Address: Wilhelmstrasse and Niederkirchnerstrasse.
Directions: Not to far away from Unter den Linden