Berlin Wall memorial – Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer

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The Berlin Wall separated the eastern and western part of Berlin from 13 August 1961 to 10.45 pm on November 9 1989 when the border crossing at Bornholmerstrasse was opened to all citizen of East Berlin who could finally again go to the western part of Berlin.

The inner wall at the Berlin Wall

After the Berlin Wall no longer separated the two parts of the city there was a popular demand for the wall to be removed and in the first days after the opening of the wall the local citizen of Berlin happily participated in the destruction of the wall with their own hammers. Later a more official demolition campaign was conducted taking down most of the wall. But a few places there are still some part of the old wall standing. One of these places is the Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer.

On a 1½ kilometer stretch of Bernauer Strasse starting at the Nordbahnhof station you will find some remnants of the wall. You can start your visit to this memorial at the Nordbahnhof which houses a small exhibition of the history of the Ghost Stations of Berlin. Right outside the door you will find patches of the original wall still standing along with some newer constructions indicating where the wall used to be. Just across the street is a small visitor center where you can go in for free and see a short movie with the history of the Berlin Wall if you like a little more information of the story of the wall.

Memorial for people killed at the wall with their photos

You can follow the wall along the street with lots of information about how it was during the time of the wall. Shortly after the wall came up there was houses in the street which was directly at the border to West Berlin. Some people living on the first floor were able to climb down robs from their flats and be in the freedom of West Berlin until the houses were torn down and there was created an inner security zone before the actual wall which made it increasingly difficult to escape to the west.

There are a many display telling about the different functions of the wall which at this section was running partly through an old cemetery which had to be closed down so the border police could stop people from escaping. The church next to the cemetery also had to go so it couldn’t be used as a stepping stone to the west from freedom seeking people of the east.

As it became ever more difficult to escape the people of East Berlin wanting freedom became ever more desperate and innovative. Some manage to dig tunnels for a long stretch under the wall until they would finally reach the western side of the city and the freedom waiting on the other side.

I find this area very interesting since I grew up in the shadow of the Berlin Wall so the history of the wall and its final demise is sort of some of the most fascinating aspect of the history of Berlin.

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2 comments

    1. I didn’t realize there was a piece in Cape Town. I didn’t see it when I went there years ago – but then again I wasn’t really looking for it so easy to overlook I guess.

      I watch on TV as well and in school people talk about they wanted to go to Berlin to be part of the action. Back then it was expensive to fly to Berlin but there was at least one train a day to Berlin taking 7 hours.

      Like

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