Travel to Berlin

Day 3 East side gallery, Checkpoint Charlie, Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church

Berlin


 

East side gallery: We began the second day of visit to this city visiting the remains of the historic Berlin Wall. We do this starting with the longest stretch of wall that has been preserved: the East Side Gallery, located along the river Spree at the height of the station Ostbahnhof. Is a section of the wall of about 1300 meters which has about 106 paintings of international artist in his East face. The first one was painted in 1989 just after the fall of the wall. It is a graphic document of a time of change and express the euphoria and high hopes for a better future and freedom for all peoples of the world. Due to the bad state of conservation of paintings, some of them have been restored.

East side gallery
Berlin Wall - East side gallery

The Berlin Wall (Berliner Mauer) was part of the intra-German border since August 13, 1961 until November 9, 1989 and separated East Germany from West Germany. The wall stretched for 45 kilometers that divided Berlin in two parts and 115 kilometers separating West Berlin from East Germany. He was one of the best known symbols of the Cold War and the separation of Germany. The initial construction was improved regularly. The wall of the fourth generation, which begun in 1975, was reinforced concrete, had a height of 3.6 meters and was composed of 45,000 separate sections of 1.5 meters in length. In addition, the border was protected by a wire mesh fence, alarm cables, trenches to prevent the passage of vehicles, a fence of barbed wire, over 300 watchtowers, and thirty bunkers.

East side gallery
Berlin Wall - East side gallery

During the Wall´s existence there were about 5,000 escapes to West Berlin, 192 people were killed by gunfire while attempting to cross and another 200 were seriously injured. Successful escape attempts included one of 57 people who escaped through a tunnel 145 meters long excavated by West Berliners on days 3, 4 and 5 October 1964.

Near the East Side Gallery is the Oberbaumbrücke, one fortified double-deck bridge that cross the river Spree. The bottom is for pedestrian while on the upper cross U-Bahn trains. During the wall the bridge became part of East Berlinás border with West Berlin, to be used as a pedestrian border crossing only to residents of West Berlin. The West Berlin U-Bahn line was forced to terminate at this point. After the fall of the wall the bridge becomes a symbol of Berlin´s unity.

Oberbaumbrucke
Oberbaumbrücke

Initially, there was only one crossing point to the East Germans in the Friedrichstrasse, the Western Allies had two checkpoints: at Helmstedt, on the border between East Germany and the main part of Federal Germany, and Dreilinden on the border south of East Berlin. Phonetic names were given to the checkpoints: Alpha (Helmstedt), Bravo (Dreilinden) and Charlie (Friedrichstrasse). Hence comes the name of one of the major attractions of the city: Checkpoint Charlie, the most famous border crossing of the Berlin Wall between 1945 and 1990. Is famous the event ocurred in October 1961 when U.S. and Soviet tanks were positioned face to face in this place having heavy fire. The checkpoint was demolished on June 22, 1990, so that except the Wall Museum of Checkpoint Charlie does not remember anything that was, until the August 13, 2000 was inaugurated a reconstruction of the first guard house.

Checkpoint Charlie
Checkpoint Charlie

The Berlin Wall fell on the evening of Thursday, November 9, 1989, to Friday, November 10, 1989, 28 years after its construction. The opening of the wall, known in Germany under the name of die Wende (the change) was a consequence of the demands for freedom of movement in the former GDR and the constant evasions to the embassies of capitals of countries of the Warsaw Pact.

Berlin Wall
Berlin Wall near Topography of Terror

Topography of Terror: The Topography of Terror (topographie des terrors) is an outdoor museum located in the site of the buildings that during the Nazi regime between 1933 and 1945 were the headquarters of the Gestapo and the SS, the principal instruments of repression during the Nazi era. These buildings were destroyed by Allied bombing during early 1945 and later demolished. Then the wall would go through the boundaries of this area. This section of the wall was not destroyed and today is the second largest of the city. In this museum you can see the remains of the cells of the Gestapo building and exhibits of the history of repression under the Nazis.

Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedachtniskirch
Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirch

Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirch: After the Allied bombing during World War II, the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church was virtually destroyed. It was decided to build a modern church next door and just keep the original tower that was preserved as a memorial against the war. Inside the tower, in Gedenkhalle (Memorial Hall), there are photo exhibitions of the Church and its vicinity, before and after the war. Other exhibitions of interest are the mosaics and liturgical objects.


 

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Berlin