Bernauer Straße 119 13355 Berlin
The Berlin Wall Memorial was completed in the summer of 2011, the 50-year anniversary of the building of the wall in 1961. It’s an incredibly well-conceived exhibition and a good spot to gain an overview of what the wall was, how it worked and what it did to the psyche of a people. The stretch of Bernauer Strasse where it is located was one of the places where the border actually ran through the buildings, making for daring escapes into the west through the windows (before they were boarded up). A piece of original wall can still be seen here with a recreated “death strip,” i.e. the no-man’s land area overseen by guards, dogs, flood lights and trip wires.
Many of the most fascinating documents of the time, including a disturbingly cheerful pop song composed for the erection of the wall, are in German, but the black-and-white footage of scenes from that time need no translation, nor does the powerful landscape outside. A rust-colored memorial shows the faces of the men and women who died while trying to escape. They include one of the first victims Peter Fechter, the 18-year-old who was shot in the no man’s land zone and bled to death as western and eastern guards (unable and unwilling, respectively, to act) stood by. The last victim of the wall was killed in August 1989, just a few months before the hated Cold War barrier finally came crashing down.
Indagare members should contact Indagare for an introduction to our favorite guide on the Berlin Wall and its history. One of our tours includes two guides—one who grew up in the East with one who grew up in the West—to give both sides of the history in person.
Written by Simone Girner