Berlin is a fascinating city from many points of view, but certainly one of the main attractions is its fascinating history. Diving into the past of this city means plunging into the same past of Europe and even the limits have endured humanity and war ferrous under oppressive regimes.
Berlin is a city that has had to endure everything from being the protagonist of one of the darkest chapters in the history of mankind to have to have been rebuilt from the ashes several times. One of those flashpoints chapters in the history of Berlin is certainly one of the most exciting: The wall that divided it in two.
A Look at the History of The Berlin Wall
Shortly after dawn on August 13, 1961, the construction of a barrier that divided Berlin into East and West for 28 years had begun. The Berlin Wall was a desperate measure by the government of the German Democratic Republic in the face of economic and political collapse that prompted an exodus of 2.6 million people since 1949.
The construction of the Berlin Wall marked the beginning of the Cold War, which would mark the confrontation between the USSR and USA into two hostile blocs (communism and capitalism) that divided the world during the second half of the twentieth century. In addition, also abruptly changed the life of the inhabitants of both the western and eastern German capital hit and cemented the confrontation between these two political systems that settled in Berlin after the Second World War.
Around 5000 people tried to escape the Socialist regime, but the barbed wire, mines, guard dogs and guards who watched from the control towers with rifles on their shoulders (with orders to shoot anyone who tried to cross the border), killed 191 victims, among dead and dams, in addition to the personification of horror and cruelty of a political system that every day more oppressing its citizens.
After 28 years of oppression and within an unsustainable economic and social crisis, hordes of people in eastern Berlin attacked the border and began to tear down the wall early on November 9, 1989. The fall of the Berlin Wall was it became a symbol of freedom in the contemporary history and led to the reunification of the city through free and democratic elections.
The fall of the Berlin Wall was also a huge cultural impact on the city at the same time were two completely different worlds now saw the need to live, to reunite and build a new free city for everyone.
Separation served somehow as a breeding ground for later Berlin became one of the most alternative and most interesting cities in Europe, because here all formed differently, culture was created from the poverty of a city dejected and confronted to the extreme. A culture from the proletariat to the same proletariat, basically because it was the only social class (excluding the political elite) that existed in East Berlin.
Only a few pieces remain of the 160 km of fortification that once East Berlin isolated from the rest of the world. After the wall came down, Berliners wanted to do everything possible to disappear from the city that presence that separated for so long, but some are saved as emblematic historic gems of a story that does not happen again.
Fragments of The Berlin Wall Still Standing
If you are you passionate about this part of Berlin’s history as much as we are, here are a guide so you know the pieces of the Berlin Wall that have been left standing as a reminder of what happened 26 years ago. Let’s have a look:
In the famous modern center of West Berlin, are authentic pieces of wall positioned north of Potsdamer Platz with useful information about its history. While these pieces were relocated and not make the original segment passerby and Leipziger Platz, it has put into this iconic area so visitors can get an idea of how to divide Berlin was only 26 years ago.
These pieces located at Potsdamer Platz are characterized by being covered with gum that people have been leaving behind this part of the wall.
Located in the ultra chic Friedrichstraße, Checkpoint Charlie is the famous border crossing in which nearly broke a third world war, when in October 1961 war tanks of the two (American and Soviet) sides kept pointing face to face for 3 consecutive days. The diplomatic crisis dissipated and now this is one of the sights of Berlin.
Just next door is the Wall Museum (Mauermuseum – Museum Haus am Checkpoint Charlie), who rebuilt in the middle of the street the first watchtower of the allies.
The Wall Museum at Checkpoint Charlie shows an almost incomprehensible amount of resources used by the inhabitants of this to escape the GDR, such extreme ways like a balloon, a Trabant, (the typical cars from the GDR) or a cableway chair.
Worth the trip take time to stop by this particular museum for example, see the tiny car whose trunk not checked at the border because no border guard could imagine that there might be a person. Or cut and the two suitcases stuffed into each other where someone fled.
One of the most distressing exhibits are the gun weapons that were provided the border guards of the GDR with which they were willing to kill anyone who dared to push the boundaries of the wall.
Black Box of the Cold War located right next to Checkpoint Charlie in Friedrichstraße , tells the story of border control through large-format photographs in addition to contextualize the international dimension of German and European division by numerous media stations.
The design Outside the pavilion refers to the two great powers, Russia and USA . The black exterior facade represents the black box that lists the events for posterity. The red columns represent the Soviet Union and the United States blue windows.
Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer
Next to the old border in Bernauer Strasse is a piece of wall with a watchtower, The Memorial of the Berlin Wall or Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer. The facility shows how the border facilities were constructed and can form a direct impression of what It was this dark period.
This memorial also features a new visitor center, built in 2009, and works perfectly as a starting point for visitors, providing information and guidance on the vast land occupied by the wall.
In the Documentation Center (Dokumentationszentrum) is a graphic presentation showing the history of the Wall in 1961 and the status of the divided city. From the tower it offers an impressive view of the preserved parts of the border and the monument in memory of the divided city and the victims of communist tyranny.
Museum of The Gdr
Would you like to travel back in time and learn about the daily life of the German Democratic Republic? Then you have to give a pass through the Museum of the GDR (DDR Museum) .It is the only museum dedicated to the routine life in the former GDR and emphasizes what it means overcoming the past without forgetting that the wall is still present in the life of many Berliners.
The theme of this museum reads: History to touch (Geschichte zum Anfassen), and that is: visitors enter a slab construction to 1:20 scale and there should alert all your senses to be part of the full experience. Information and exhibits are hidden in drawers, closets and behind doors. The exhibited works can touch and use, to have a Trabant that invites for a virtual joyride through East Berlin.
Without falling into the nostalgic trend, illustrated with the exhibits of the wall and the monuments of the Stasi, the third pillar of economic improvement in the former GDR. This museum has set a task to preserve an important part of German cultural history and make it accessible to future generations.
Further invites visitors to expand their knowledge, to overcome existing stereotypes and live the story very closely. The exhibited works come largely from private homes, whose owners have donated their possessions to the museum.
East Side Gallery
Another of the major tourist attractions in Berlin. After the Wall fell in 1990, 118 artists from 21 countries (including Thierry Noir and Dmitri Vrubel), made a outdoor gallery of 1.3 km of wall that remained standing on the River Spree in neighborhood Friedrichshain.
This unique piece of anti-war art has become an iconic place in Berlin, with several artistic pieces like the famous Bruderkuss or kiss of brotherhood between Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Honecker, painted by Russian artist Dmitri Vrubel.
The peace messages enshrined along this wall erected to separate and press well worth a visit to see from another point of view the political changes that emerged in Germany between ’89 / 90.
There are other areas of Berlin where you can find pieces of wall abandoned or have not been exploited as tourist. Many of them are in neighborhoods outside the center of Berlin or scattered to the sides of railway lines, especially in the line of Sbahn going towards the Ostbahnhof.
In the district Spandau you can get hidden in the woods, which you can access via a bike path remains.