Berlin Wall Memorial
Berlin Wall Memorial stands out as one of Berlin’s most popular tourist sites today. It is located about ten minutes from the Museum of Naturkunde (on foot) to the east. The Memorial is situated at the historic site on Bernauer Strasse along a line of about 1.5 km right on the former border between East and West Berlin.
On the border strip that had been located in East Berlin, an open-air exhibition uses the situation on Bernauer Strasse to explain the history of division. The memorial consists of the Monument in Memory of the Divided City. It is also a memorial for the Victims of Communist Tyranny. A Window of Remembrance.
The grounds also include the Chapel of Reconciliation and the excavated foundations of a former apartment building whose façade functioned as the border wall until the early eighties. The Visitor Center and the Documentation Center with a viewing platform are located on the other side of the street that belonged to the western part of the city. The exhibition “Border Stations and Ghost Stations in Divided Berlin” are shown inside the Nordbahnhof S-Bahn station.
On October 2, 1990, the day before German reunification, the East Berlin magistrate declared the border section across the Sophien parish cemetery a historical monument. In 1994, a competition was held for the design of a monument dedicated to the victims of the Berlin Wall and in memory of the division of the city.
The monument was dedicated on August 13, 1998. In 1997, on the initiative of the Berlin Senate, the Berlin Wall Association was created. Its goal is to oversee the establishment of a documentation center in the parish house of the Reconciliation Church. The center opened on November 9, 1999, on the 10th anniversary of the fall of the Wall. The center was to serve as an addition to the monument, providing factual information and political education.
The Chapel of Reconciliation on the former border strip was dedicated in 2000. These three elements allow visitors to learn about the history and consequences of the Berlin Wall on three different levels: artistically, factually, and spiritually.
Visitors can choose how they wish to approach the historical site. They can address the evidence of the past provided to them. Over time it became evident that with the entire border fortifications torn down, few meaningful places were left to convey the history. For this reason in 2006 a “Masterplan to Preserve the Memory of the Berlin Wall” was passed by the Berlin Senate. It called for the reinforcement and linking of the various Wall sites in Berlin.
Consequently, the memorial on Bernauer Strasse has been established as the central site of commemoration for the victims of the Berlin Wall. The Visitor Center at the corner of Bernauer Strasse and Gartenstrasse opened in 2009. It serves as a starting point for groups and individual visitors. It provides general information about the Wall and shows visitors what the memorial has to offer.
A central part of the memorial is the open-air exhibit on the former border strip on the south side of Bernauer Strasse. The Berlin-based architecture offices “Sinai” and “ON Architektur” are the designers of the 1.3 km long and 4.4-hectare large expanse. They achieved into integrating a novel memorial into the natural landscape of the German capital.
The existing remains and traces of the Berlin Wall have been preserved. This helped to make the dramatic historical events come alive. The “Window of Remembrance,” completed in 2010, is a central element on the grounds of the former Sophien parish cemetery. It provides. the victims at the Berlin Wall with a dignified commemorative site.
On November 9, 2014, the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Wall, the new permanent exhibition “1961 | 1989. The Berlin Wall” opened in the memorial’s renovated documentation center. The exhibition explains the political, and historical situation that led to the Wall’s construction. Its fall led to the reunification of Germany.