This 9th of November marks 28 years since the Berlin Wall fell. The wall stood for 28 years, from 1961-1989, causing a divide between the Communist East and West Berlin politically, ideologically and physically. Not only that, but it also divided neighborhoods and families in the process. 2017, therefore, marks the point where it has now been down as long as it once stood.
The Berlin Wall was built to stop East Germans from escaping into West Berlin, and was the enduring symbol of the Cold War. Every day it stood, Berliners were reminded of their city's painful division and its (questionable) honor of being the "capital of the Cold War". At least 140 people lost their lives at the Wall, shot by border guards, crossing the dangerous frontier, or guarding the Wall.
There were also stories of incredible bravery: tunnel diggers, aviators, and everyday people developed creative methods for breaching the border, and for helping friends and family to escape.
Walk around Berlin today and there are very few traces of the Berlin Wall besides designated memorials or various segments of the wall left here and there. Due to the astonishing amount of development happening through Berlin, there are less physical differences between the East and West as the years go on. This is remarkable given how recent the division was.
Photo: Felipe Tofani
What is even more remarkable about this city is how reflective and educational it is when it comes to discussing the Cold War era. There are many museums, designated memorials and sites in the former East designed to help further educate those interested in learning more, and preserving the dark and tragic history of the Wall. There really isn’t a better time to learn about this era than right now: Berlin is full of living, breathing memories of the division.
The best way to get a view of the Berlin Wall, and to gain an insight into how it affected Berliners' lives on either side, is to join us on one of the SANDEMANs Red Berlin Tours.
Photo: Peer Kugler