As Berlin is in the east of Germany, following the post-war carve up of Germany, logically, it should have been part of the Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR). But as the capital city it was itself divided into four sectors and administered jointly by the occupying powers, the United States of America, Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union. When the DDR was established, they wanted to absorb the whole of Berlin, but this was resisted by the population of the Western sectors, backed by the Allied powers. This resulted in the city remaining divided,with the western sector becoming an island surrounded by the DDR.
Initially, movement was possible between the eastern and western sectors, but eventually as more and more people from the east fled to the western sector, measures were taken by the Communists to restrict movement between the sectors, eventually leading to the construction of the infamous Berlin Wall. It stood for 28 years, from August 1961 until November 1989, dividing friends and families.
With the unification of Germany most of the wall was demolished. But some sections still remain as a poignant reminder of the years when the city was divided. One of these is the Berlin Wall Memorial on Bernauer Straße, near the Nordbahnhof S-Bahn station, where a significant part of the wall has been preserved, including a section which recreates how the “mature” wall looked – two walls divided by a “death strip” with watch towers that could be strafed by machine gun fire
There’s an information centre near the S-Bahn station and also a Documentation centre a few hundred yards away which has information leaflets and an exhibition about the wall. There’s also a viewing platform which gave us a great view over the “death strip” and preserved watch tower.
The memorial site extends for quite a way with some sections of wall preserved while in other parts it’s course is marked by a series of poles.
There are also various memorials to people who were killed trying to cross over into the western sector, information panels and the routes of escape tunnels marked out on the pavement.
Free leaflets on the memorial site showing the location of the various reconstructions and memorials were available from the Information and Documentation Centres.