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Following the Wall

I was in Berlin earlier in the week, and decided to trace the route of the Wall through the centre of the city. It's quite easy to do: from this site I discovered that there was a convenient corner of it near my hotel where the Kommandantenstraße meets the Axel-Springer-Straße, and followed it westwards along the Zimmerstraße, past Checkpoint Charlie, through the Niederkirchnerstraße, up the Stresemannstraße to the Potsdamer Platz, then along the Ebertstraße to the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag. Basically my route lay to the left from the lower right of this map, and then up the left side:

Almost everywhere it's pretty easy to follow. This is from near the start of the trail on the Zimmerstraße, looking west:

And this is at the end of that leg, looking east along the Niederkirchnerstraße from the Stresemannstraße:

Here it is snaking across the Potsdamer Platz (strictly speaking this may be the nearby Fontane Platz):

Here's the view north along the Ebertstraße to the Brandenburg Gate (the sun had come out by now):

Here it is snaking around the Brandenburg Gate (off this line of vision to the right; the Reichstag in the background):

And here we are looking south from the Reichstag to the Brandenburg Gate (the sun having gone in again):

And you can just see it here in the road in front of the Gate:

From these lines in the road, which cars casually park on and drive over, it is almost impossible to imagine what the wall meant to those of us who are old enough to remember the Cold War. What seemed then an immovable barrier has been reduced to a few bricks at street level. It still seems incredible to me.

There is one short stretch still standing on the Niederkirchnerstraße, here looking "West" (actually south-west from this angle) to the Martin Gropius Building, museum and exhibition hall whose entrance was basically blocked by the Wall for many years. (NB the graffiti is post-'89: this was the "Eastern" side of the wall.)

And this is the same stretch looking "East" (really northwest) to the new Berlin parliament building. (Notice absence of graffiti, no doubt all chipped off by souvenir hunters in 1989 or shortly thereafter.) Here it forms part of a permanent open-air exhibition called "The Topography of Terror" to mark the site of the SS and Gestapo headquarters. Hitler's bunker was a few blocks further north.

The wall skirts a number of other interesting structures. Here is what is left of Checkpoint Charlie, looking southeast past the old US guard post to the Checkpoint Charlie museum (which I went to a few years back; it's pretty impressive).

The old sign is still there too:

Up near the Reichstag is this little memorial to those who were killed trying to cross the Wall.

The restored Reichstag is remarkable:

The new Chancellery building less so:

Everything in Berlin is well sign-posted - this was the end of my walk:

The most impressive of the memorials occupies a full block between the Potsdamer Platz and the Brandenburg Gate, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.

I recommend you go and see for yourself.


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 11th, 2009 05:22 pm (UTC)
very cool!
Mar. 11th, 2009 05:26 pm (UTC)
What a terrific post - thanks so much for sharing!
Mar. 11th, 2009 05:28 pm (UTC)
Berlin's on my re-visit list, but it's been there for nearly 20 years so far. :( I was there in 1990 (and in Leipzig, which has changed radically from what I hear).
Mar. 11th, 2009 05:31 pm (UTC)
Ah, the Memorial is finished now, of course. It was a building site when I was last in that area of the city some number of years ago (er, six, maybe?) and it's good to see it's all done now.
Mar. 11th, 2009 05:41 pm (UTC)
Thanks for posting these. I went through Checkpoint Charlie on a coach in summer 1985. The location is unrecognisable today.
Mar. 11th, 2009 05:55 pm (UTC)
It actually took me a moment to understand that the brick pathway was the Wall. I mean, on one level I got it right away, but on another... wow. That's...wow.
Mar. 11th, 2009 06:31 pm (UTC)
Absolutely brilliant.

Crazy(and sometimes wondering - jealously - where do you get the energy??)Soph
Mar. 11th, 2009 07:40 pm (UTC)
Mar. 12th, 2009 09:19 am (UTC)
What time did you go for your walk? I went Easter weekend last year and saw some of those sites, but they were CRAWLING with tourists, especially the Brandenburg Gate and Checkpoint Charlie. We went back and saw the gate at night though, it's beautiful :)
Mar. 14th, 2009 09:28 am (UTC)
It was a weekday afternoon - also I think fewer tourists this time of year!
Mar. 15th, 2009 11:34 pm (UTC)
One thing that is funny about the wall mark at ground level is that it looks rather like the Freedom Trail marks they have in Boston. A nice AH idea would be to imagine a Boston partitioned along the route of the freedom trail.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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