Tag Archives: Strauss des 17 Juni

Berlin, 1997, Part 1: The West Side

Sarah and I started our sight-seeing of the former West Berlin with Checkpoint Charlie. All that is left is a tiny concrete hut with a broken tower on top.

I spent the most time I have spent in a museum on this trip inside the Wall Museum. It has the history of the Berlin Wall from building to dismantling with photos and videos.

There was a very moving video of the wall being torn down. I could remember when it was dismantled in 1989 and it really seemed like such recent history.

The museum had footage of demonstrations and escape attempts- most of them successful. People sneaked through tunnels, in speaker boxes, hot air balloons, underwater, flying foxes, suitcases and squashed in cars. They would do anything to get out.

There was an art section with the wall theme, some of the pieces using part of the wall itself, and video of worldwide non-violent protests.

We walked a block away and saw part of the wall. There is not much of it left. We looked through a gap in the wall and I bought a postcard with a “part of wall” inset into it. The buildings near the wall had their windows bricked up.

I didn’t know Berlin was actually divided into four parts- the East suppressed communist part owned by the Soviet Union and the West free part owned by the allies was split into three parts owned by France, the UK and the USA. What a ridiculous way to divide up a city!

We saw the Kasier-Wilhelm Gedachtniskirche which was bombed during war, rebuilt, then bombed again and left with its gaping roof as a memorial.

Potsdammer Platz, as with most of the former West Berlin, was under construction and I counted 20 cranes in the area.

We walked through the heavily wooded Tiergarten to the Siegessaule Victory Column. We entered through a tunnel in the bottom and walked to the top to take in the view of the city, Brandenburg Gate and Spree River. The exhibition inside had a very scary photo of the column with swastika flags running down both sides.

There was a monument to the victims of Fascism and Militarism for all the German soldiers who died fighting the Soviets.

We walked down Strasse des 17 Juni where allied military parades were held and reached the Reichstag Building next to the Berlin Wall which has visible bullet holes from the Soviet army. Lots of fighting took place here and there are also lots of crosses as monuments to the people who died trying to get over the wall.

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