What is the Berlin Wall

The Berlin Wall

For many years since its construction in 1961, the Berlin Wall has been the place where the geopolitical division of Europe, Germany and Berlin manifested itself. Residents and visitors to the western city could literally grasp this division with their hands. In the eastern part of the city, on the other hand, barriers and controls blocked access to the border structures in advance. For this reason, the image of the border in the memory of the former citizens of the East is less clear than the characteristic western view of the concrete wall with asbestos-cement pipe that has become a symbol for “the wall”.

The Berlin Monument Preservation has been committed to the preservation of parts of the former border strip since 1990. Over the years, a total of 25 parts of the monument - several hundred meters of wall sections and three watchtowers - have been placed under monument protection. The protection of the Berlin Wall represents a great challenge for the preservation of monuments. The inner-city border was burdened with a painful memory and met with widespread rejection due to its low age and ruinous condition. Communicating their importance and thus their monument value was and is particularly demanding.

The first protections were made in 1990/91 against sometimes bitter criticism from the public and the political arena. After the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, the joy and relief at the end of the division was omnipresent and the public understanding of the receipt of physical evidence from the border facility among those affected was low. As a symbol of the 40-year-old division between East and West and the policies of the GDR that were hostile to human rights, the wall should be removed from view and experience as quickly as possible. It should "grow together, what belongs together" (Willy Brandt) and the historical injustice should be made good by re-using and building on the wall plots. In competition with political and economic interests, the historical border strip only had a chance of preservation in exceptional cases. The spontaneous desire to remove the stigma of the division of Germany, and later also interests in the exploitation of the former wall plots, led to the extensive dismantling of the barriers.

For several years now, visitors and residents of the city have increasingly expressed the wish that today's Berlin cityscape should also provide information about the history of the divided city. The demand to keep the memory of the division and its overcoming alive is more and more popular. Politicians regret the loss of the wall almost without a trace, proposals were made for marking the former border, and exhibitions and art events address the former border area and its transitions.

On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the construction of the Wall on August 13, 1961, the State Monuments Office placed other preserved parts of the Wall under monument protection in 2001. The Senate Department for Urban Development, which is responsible for monument protection, commissioned the Chair of Monument Preservation at the Brandenburg University of Technology in Cottbus with the creation of a systematic documentation of the remains and traces of the inner-city wall and border systems that have been preserved. On the basis of this comprehensive recording and recommendations of the State Monument Council, the State Monuments Office of Berlin entered the last significant wall sections and wall elements in the list of monuments in 2005 and 2005.

As authentic testimonies, listed parts of the wall can best remember the 28-year division of the city and the terror associated with the border installations and the inhumanity of the system. Together with other remains and traces of the border system, such as isolated sections of the column path, preserved whip lamps or shut-off pipes, the listed wall sections and watchtowers also remind of the happiness and joy at the end of the division and the fall of the Iron Curtain.