The most incredible thing for me about Berlin was the division of the city into East and West by the Berlin Wall. Seriously, the German Democratic Republic (GDR) built a freaking wall in the middle of a MAJOR European metropolitan city practically overnight that stood for almost 30 years. That is absolutely amazing and incredible to me. Moreover, I think I am so fascinated with this piece of history because I was alive while it was up and when it came down. At the time the wall came down, I was so young that I didn’t quite understand how incredible it was that the Wall was actually being torn down! Now after seeing the wall and reading the history behind the wall, I now get why everyone was so happy and so amazed when on 9 November 1989 the wall began to fall.
THE BERLIN WALL NOW…
What’s awesome about Berlin is that they aren’t hiding this piece of history and while many portions of the wall did get torn down, many remain standing all around Berlin. Berliners are awesome in that they’ve turned much of the remaining wall into art with graffiti covering both sides.
The Berlin wall as a concept kept shocking me. We would be walking along and there would be a part of the wall. In my mind, the wall didn’t make sense. I mean a wall in the middle of the city?! WTF?! But it truly divided the city totally and completely. I mentioned how one couldn’t even walk through the Brandenburger Tor because it was in the “death strip” between East and West. Well now one can’t walk around Berlin without running into pieces of the wall and wondering what it would have been like to live there when it was still up. There are numerous places to see the Berlin Wall and I went to most of them from the wall by Checkpoint Charlie to the Berlin Wall Memorial to Eastside Gallery to the wall remnants by Potsdamer Platz. Photos will do more justice to the scope of the wall, so here they come.
I also have some facts I found fascinating and a little bit of history thrown in (photo montage style for you).
- In one night, the GDR decided to shut down the border with West Berlin and it did it by tearing up streets and erecting barbwire barricades!
- The wall was quite long at 155 km.
- Because of the wall, families were split up, people couldn’t travel to their jobs across the border, and East Germans were stuck under communist rule
- Over time, the barbed wire was replaced with an actual wall tall enough that people could not climb over.
- After even more time, the space between the borders widened into the appropriately named “death strip” because it offered you NO cover if you tired to escape.
- At some point they even tore down the houses along Bernauer Strasse, where the wall had been erected, because people were escaping out of the windows of the building and over the wall. The actually just evicted all the individuals who lived there, moved them, and tore down the buildings.
Here’s my collection of photos of the Berlin Wall from all around Berlin. More can be found here.