AFTER spending a single day in Berlin more than 10 years ago I’ve long been keen to return to the German city for a longer stay and have finally achieved this goal.
I’m spending a week in what was once East Berlin visiting many of the landmarks I know from my university history studies including the old Stasi Headquarters, the Berliner Dom, Checkpoint Charlie, and the Palace of Tears.
There’s also time for the Berlin Wall Memorial, which stretches along a suburban street that became the front line between East and West when the communists “anti-fascist protecting barrier” went up in August 1961, and that’s where I snapped this photo of an angle hovering on an old section of the infamous concrete barrier.
There’s only a small section of the wall in the Berlin Wall Memorial now standing on the green space flanking Bernauer Strasse and it’s there thanks to the quick thinking of the British ambassador back in 1989.
While the locals were demolishing the structure that divided their city for decades, set on removing any sign of it after reunification, the British ambassador knew it would one day be wanted so sent soldiers out to salvage a section and hide it in the embassy grounds.
That time came when the Berlin Wall Memorial was established and the British were happy to surrender the length to stand in the new peace park.
There are also monuments dotted along Bernauer Strasse to the folks that died fleeing East Berlin between 1961 and 1989, with stones set in the footpath at the places people fell from windows that were in eastern-sector house but with a West-facing facade, and there’s a wall of faces on the lawn featuring every person that perished.
The park is divided into zones to document this dark chapter in Berlin history, a strip has been recreated to show the armaments that went into the barricade and can only be seen by ascending to the rooftop lookout of the neighbouring Documentation Centre, and outlines of the border houses are marked on the ground with street numbers noted so visitors can link individual stories to the missing buildings.
Travel tip – If you’re interested in Berlin’s Cold War history do a walking tour with Original Berlin Walks to see some significant communist sites you wouldn’t think to see touring solo.
“Situated at the historic site on Bernauer Strasse, it extends along 1.4 kilometers of the former border strip, (and) the memorial contains the last piece of Berlin Wall with the preserved grounds behind it and is thus able to convey an impression of how the border fortifications developed until the end of the 1980s.”Berlin Wall Memorial websiteVisit the Berlin Wall Memorial website