Berlin – Bernauer Strasse

The construction of the Berlin wall began in 1961 as a result of the unimpeded emigration of Eastern German citizens to West Berlin. Until the fall of the wall in October 1989, it underwent several changes. The Eastern German border around West Berlin stretched just over 150 kilometres and when the last change was implemented, the wall itself was four meters high, about 100 kilometres long and was the last obstacle to West Berlin. That’s how the wall looked like from West Berlin, but on the Eastarn side there were further obstacles to prevent East germans flee to the west. First there were just over 100 kilometres of vehicle barriers, then a 120 kilometres patrol street for East German guards, headlights, 302 watchtowers, a 10 kilometre tank obstacles, to name a few, barely 130 kilometres alarm fence and finally a smaller wall or fence facing East Berlin. It was absolutely forbidden to stay between the wall to the west and the fence to the east.

Despite the wall, several successful escape attempts were made, including at Bernauer Strasse. These were carried out from the residential buildings that were on the east side and had windows facing the west side. People simply jumped or climbed their way down to the freedom of Bernauer Strasse. This was something that the East German government couldn’t accept. First they walled the windows and evacuated the residents and when that didn’t prevent people from fleeing, they demolished the houses. At least ten people died during escape attempts at Bernauer Strasse and for these a memorial monument has been established. In total, about 80 people died when they tried to escape from different parts of East Berlin to West Berlin, but more than 5,000 successful flights were also carried out. As late as January 1989, the Eastern German leader, Erich Honecker, said ”that the wall will last for 50 or 100 years, as long as the reasons for its origin remain”.

Current status: Partly preserved/demolished with museum (2006).

Address: Bernauer Strasse 111, 13355 Berlin.

Get there: Metro to Bernauer Strasse or Nordbahnhof Station.

My comment:

The Wall is Berlin’s biggest tourist attraction and the city is doing everything possible to exploit it to the fullest. If you disregard the commercial, there is a lot to see and visit for those who not only see the wall as an attraction.

Follow up in books: Taylor, Frederick: The Berlin Wall (2006).