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Berlin Bernauer Strasse Window of Remembrance An Angel to watch over them

Berlin Wall Memorial at Bernauer Strasse

The Berlin Wall Memorial is the central memorial site of German division, located in the middle of the capital. Situated at the historic site on Bernauer Strasse, it will eventually extend along 1.4 kilometers of the former border strip. The memorial contains the last piece of Berlin Wall with the preserved grounds behind it and is thus able to convey an impression of how the border fortifications developed until the end of the 1980s. The events that took place here together with the preserved historical remnants and traces of border obstacles on display help to make the history of Germany’s division comprehensible to visitors

The sealing off of the sector border starting on 13 August 1961 made dramatic changes especially in the everyday lives of the people living on Bernauer Strasse. From one day to the next, they could no longer travel freely through their own neighbourhood, and neighbours, friends, and relatives were separated from one another. The house across the street was suddenly part of another political system. Through no fault of their own and against their will, the people of Bernauer Strasse became eyewitnesses to and actors in an episode of post-war German history in Berlin.

In desperation, people jumped out of the windows of apartments bordering West Berlin and paid with their lives. Some of the Bernauer Strasse escape attempts succeeded, however. Cameras and film crews brought these scenes to a watching world.

The construction of the Berlin Wall put an abrupt and violent end to daily life, leaving traces that are visible even today on Bernauer Strasse. The former “no man’s land” between Brunnenstrasse and Gartenstrasse has been preserved, undeveloped, in its original width. An outdoor exhibition by the Berlin Wall Memorial is being laid out here. Using the many historical fragments still found here and the area's eventful past, the exhibition uses concrete examples to describe the purpose and function of the Berlin Wall. It concentrates especially on the stories of people whose lives were disrupted or restricted by the Wall, who were expelled from their homes because of it, or who attempted to escape over it.

The Berlin Wall Memorial is located roughly in the middle of this section of the former border. The Federal Republic of Germany established it in 1998 "in memory of the city’s division from 13 August 1961 to 9 November 1989 and of the victims of communist tyranny." In their design, the Stuttgart architects Kohlhoff & Kohlhoff preserved sixty meters of the former "no man's land" as a physical reminder of the Wall, while giving it an artistic interpretation and shape.

The memorial grounds can be reached best from the Visitors Centre at the Nordbahnhof S-Bahn station. From here you can walk to the outdoor exhibition along the former border strip with its "Window of Remembrance," the Berlin Wall Memorial, and the memorial's other buildings: the Documentation Centre with the exhibition "Berlin, 13 August 1961" and the Chapel of Reconciliation.

The iron bars symbolize the Berlin Wall and are set up where the original Wall stood at the Wall Memorial at Bernauer Strasse

In 1997 the Sophien Parish broke off two sections off the Berlin Wall that stood on what were believed to be graves from World War II. The segments that were removed have been stored on the cemetery grounds since the event.

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Taken on April 28, 2012