Article (A) guide: The Berlin Wall

The Berlin Wall
Image by Dguendel under Creative Commons License.
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Overnight on June 15th 1961, a barrier went up to completely divide Allied West Berlin from Communist East Berlin and the GDR. Over the following years the Berlin Wall was increasingly fortified until it became one of the deadliest border-crossings in the World. Take this tour to explore the remnants of this historic barrier, and relive the tragic events of people attempting to cross the 'death-strip' to freedom.

Walk Route

Guide Name: The Berlin Wall
Guide Location: Germany » Berlin
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (A))
# of Attractions: 13
Tour Duration: 2.0 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.0 km
Author: Andie Gilmour
Author Bio: Hi, my name is Andie. I am originally from England, but after visiting Berlin many times I decided to move here permanently with my partner and four cats. I do guided tours, take photographs of Berlin and Brandenburg, and also design and program websites. I am fascinated by local history, and have found more than enough to discover here in Berlin, which I would like to share with you.
Author Website:
Friedrichstraße Station and the Palace of Tears

1) Friedrichstraße Station and the Palace of Tears

Road and pedestrian access into West Berlin was relatively easy to control: just build a physical barrier along the border - the Berlin Wall - with limited crossing points.

The railway network was more problematic, especially at Friedrichstraße station, which was surrounded on three sides by West Berlin and had lines coming into it from there.

Friedrichstraße also had long-distance rail links with countries inside and outside the Communist Bloc that still had to flow. The East Germans...
Image by Beek100 under Creative Commons License.
The White Crosses Memorial

2) The White Crosses Memorial

The fortified border ran close behind the Reichstag and joined with the River Spree. Where East met West, a memorial of seven white crosses stands on the riverbank.

The river along this stretch was owned by East Germany and was patrolled by armed guards. Many refugees tried to reach Western Berlin by swimming across it; some even made it. One person who unfortunately didn't was Günter Litfin, who was shot dead in the water a short distance from here by East German Transportation Police...
Image by Beek100 under Creative Commons License.
Crosses on the Corner of Ebertstrasse

3) Crosses on the Corner of Ebertstrasse

The White Cross memorial is duplicated across the road from the South of the Reichstag building, where one of the remembered victims also has a three-metre wooden cross dedicated to him.

That victim is Heinz Sokolowski, who was shot dead by border guards close to here on Dorotheenstraße on 25th November 1965. Sokolowski was born in Frankfurt Oder during the First World War, fought in the German army during the Second World War, was captured by the Soviets and taken to Russia where he was...
Image by Tilemahos Efthimiadis under Creative Commons License.
Tiergarten Soviet War Memorial

4) Tiergarten Soviet War Memorial

During the heavy fighting for the Battle of Berlin at the close of the Second World War, an estimated 70,000 people were killed in just ten days: 22,000 troops of the Soviet Red Army, 20,000 German soldiers, and at least 30,000 civilians. There are many grave-sites in and around Berlin, and the one in the Tiergarten is the resting place for over 2,000 Soviet soldiers.

The memorial was dedicated on 11th November 1945 in the presence of all four occupying powers. At the time it lay in...
Image by David Arvidsson under Creative Commons License.
Statue 'The Caller'

5) Statue 'The Caller'

In the centre of avenue Straße des 17 Juni stands a bronze statue of a man with cupped hands around his mouth, as if shouting down the avenue at The Brandenburg Gate and East Berlin. The statue is called 'Der Rufer' or The Caller, by the Berlin-born artist Gerhard Marcks, and was erected in May 1989. An inscription around the plinth translates that the figure goes through the world crying 'Friede' : 'Peace, Peace, Peace'. This call, together with one for...
The Brandenburg Gate

6) The Brandenburg Gate

The Western Gate in Berlin's city walls has been a famous symbol of Berlin since it was commissioned by King Friedrich Wilhelm 2nd of Prussia in the late eighteenth century. During the Cold War it was entirely closed off and the Berlin Wall ran in a semi-circle in front of it on the Western Side. Pariser Platz on the Eastern side became part of the Death Strip and was only used by GDR Border Guards and Soviet troops.

The Gate became a focus for protests against a divided Germany. As the...
Image by Sven Gross-Selbeck under Creative Commons License.
The Former Death Strip

7) The Former Death Strip

The 2,711 concrete slabs that make up 'The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe', inaugurated in 2005, were erected on wasteland that was once the death-strip between the outer and inner Berlin Wall. As such it gives a feeling for the width of the border fortifications at this point. All the land between the double-cobblestones running up the middle of Ebertstraße to the buildings rising beyond the memorial was an area where to step was to risk arrest, or being shot at.

In the...
Image by Bill Cunningham under Creative Commons License.
Leipziger Platz

8) Leipziger Platz

The elegent octagonal form of Leipziger Platz was laid out according to the wishes of Friedrich Wilhelm 1st of Prussia in 1732 and put to ceremonial and residential use. It was reduced to ruins by the street-fighting and bombardments during the Battle of Berlin, and any remaining buildings were torn down by the Soviets for border installations.

The row of double-cobblestones bisecting the square mark the course of the inner, East German, side of the border. A few sections of the wall are...
Image by Gianni D'Anna under Creative Commons License.
Potsdamer Platz

9) Potsdamer Platz

By the beginning of the Twentieth Century, Potsdamer Platz was one of the busiest squares in Europe, lined with hotels, department stores, and restaurants. A monument from that time, when trams, horse-drawn buses, and newly invented automobiles bustled here, is a replica of the first traffic lights erected in Europe.

By the end of the Second World War the square was almost totally destroyed, and the wasteland became the converging point of the British, American and Soviet sectors. Any...
Image by Jorge Franganillo under Creative Commons License.
GDR Watchtower

10) GDR Watchtower

This watchtower dating from 1969 is now dwarfed by modern new buildings and has been moved eight metres to the East to accommodate their construction.

It once stood on the edge of the death-strip watching for people approaching the Eastern side of the border. These 'panorama observation towers' were also used to monitor high-security institutions like the Stasi (State Security) prison in Hohenschönhausen and the Stasi office in Weissensee.

An iron ladder within the shaft...
The Wall at Niederkirchnerstraße

11) The Wall at Niederkirchnerstraße

A 200 metre stretch of The Berlin Wall still stands along Niederkirchnerstraße beside the Topography of Terror exhibition. It has been damaged by 'wall-peckers', souvenir hunters chiseling away pieces of the concrete, and is now protected by a fence.

The border strip here was very narrow - just the width of the street - and the government buildings on the North side were incorporated into the inner wall.

The Berlin Wall was referred to by the GDR government as an Anti-fascist...
Image by Sjaak Kempe under Creative Commons License.
Checkpoint Charlie

12) Checkpoint Charlie

Checkpoint Charlie (named from the NATO phonetic alphabet for the letter C) was the only road crossing for foreigners and Allied Forces personnel on foot or in a vehicle between the Eastern and Western sectors. It came to world prominence in October 1961 when a stand-off between Soviet and American tanks nearly sparked off a Third World War. The incident began trivially enough on 22 October 1961 (just two months after construction of the wall) with a dispute over whether East German guards were...
Image by Clément Belleudy under Creative Commons License.
The Peter Fechter Memorial

13) The Peter Fechter Memorial

On Zimmerstraße stands a memorial to the shooting of young building worker Peter Fechter on 17th August 1962.

Just a year after the wall was built, Fechter tried to flee the GDR together with his friend Helmut Kulbeik.

They hid in a carpenter's workshop next to the wall on Zimmerstraße and dropped down into the strip between the inner fence and outer wall from an overlooking window. They then attempted to dash across the 'death strip' before the border guards noticed, and...
Image by Oren Rozen under Creative Commons License.


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