Visit the official memorial as well as seeing the wall in different locations in the city, as some of the real-life stories on display there are amazing - families were torn apart and reunited, ingenious methods were devised to cross the wall (from tunnels to hot-air balloons), and some of the propaganda from the time is on display too.
On August 13, 1961, the Communist government of East Germany began to build a barbed wire and concrete Antifascistischer Schutzwall between East and West Berlin. The official purpose was to keep Western ‘fascists’ from entering East Germany and undermining the socialist state, but it primarily served the objective of stemming mass defections from East Germany to the more liberal West.
It stood until November 9, 1989, when the head of the East German Communist Party announced that citizens of the GDR could cross the border at their will. That night, one of the most famous in modern history, ecstatic crowds swarmed over the wall as waves of euphoria hit the city; some crossed freely into West Berlin, while others brought hammers and picks and began to chip away at the wall itself. Nowadays, nearly everywhere in Berlin you can buy a piece of the ‘Berlin wall.'
In the twenty-six years that have passed, redevelopment of East Berlin has lead to many sections of the wall being dismantled - but the ground plans are visible all over the city, and there is still a significant section around the Ostbahnhof station known as the East Side Gallery. The iconic graffiti here is recognised the world over, and remains an outlet for artistic expression and social commentary to this day.
There is an official memorial near U-bahn Bernauer Strasse which displays a section of the wall complete with the chilling Todesstrafe (death zone) in the middle - the no man’s land between East and West, where over two hundred people were shot whilst attempting to cross.
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