Category: Berlin Wall

Eight Strangest Berlin Wall Escapes

As of Monday the 5th of February 2018, the Berlin Wall will have been down for longer than it stood: 28 years, 3 months, and 28 days. Erected on the 13th of August 1961, The Wall divided Berlin for 28 years during the Cold War and claimed the lives of, as official records currently state, 140 people, until its fall on the 9th November 1989. What started as a ramshackle border fence, comprising mostly of barbed wire and concrete posts, would be continually expanded into a 157-kilometre long fortress consisting of two walls with an armoured ‘no-man’s-land’ running in between – nicknamed, with characteristic German candour, the ‘Death Strip’. Unlike the no-mans land of the First World War, the control zone of the Berlin Wall was entirely in the territory of one power - East Germany - a country determined to stop the flow of citizens escaping West across its…

Ten Great Reasons To Tour The Berlin Wall

How absurd that of all the stunning buildings in Berlin - the triumphal Prussian Brandenburg Gate, the magnificent UNESCO-listed Museum Island - that the one landmark that has come to be  most synonymous with the name of the city is built of simple reinforced concrete. A monument to the ideological conflict of the Cold War that defined much of the 20th century. The Berlin Wall. Constructed at a time when the world seemed to be teetering on the brink of nuclear annihilation, the Berlin Wall transformed the city overnight. As the East German government took desperate measures to keep their own population from fleeing to the Western sectors of divided Berlin, a concrete barrier over 150 km long was constructed around that very capitalist island of the West. Creating something of a paradoxical prison. Ironically where the only people who were free were the prisoners encircled. Free to leave. Free, eventually, to visit the East. Free to…

The German 9/11 – the ‘Day of Fate’

On a crisp autumn evening in 2014, I stood overlooking the path the Berlin Wall once traced as it wound around the British, French and US occupation zones of West Berlin like a concrete lariat. Breaking with precedent established at previous muted celebrations, the German government had decided to organise a unique spectacle to mark the 25th anniverary of the sudden & unexpected redundancy of the world's most famous wall. [caption id="attachment_4283" align="alignright" width="300"] Berlin Wall Lichtgrenze, 2014[/caption] On 9th November 2014, thousands of illuminated balloons on slender stands, stood equal height as the former internal barrier of the German Democratic Republic, lined a 15km route through Berlin, passing the site of the main ceremony at the Brandenburg Gate. Following perfomances by Peter Gabriel and Udo Lindenberg, and to the strained tones of a rendition of Beethoven's 9th Symphony, the balloons were released one-by-one to soar into the night-sky. Like many others…

Long Weekend in Germany

Today is the start of a long weekend in Germany, leading up to the official commemorations for the anniversary of German reunification on 3rd October. If you're in Berlin near the Brandenburg Gate, be prepared to encounter some celebratory bratwurst munching and general drunken revellery as part of the street festival held in the run-up to the national holiday on Monday. For more info: https://www.berlin.de/…/2716319-2842498-day-of-german-unity… Photo credit: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-1990-1003-400 / Grimm, Peer / CC-BY-SA 3.0

On this day: Günter Litfin is killed trying to escape to West Berlin

[caption id="attachment_4000" align="alignleft" width="1024"] Günter Litfin is killed trying to escape to West Berlin following the construction of the Berlin Wall[/caption] On this day: Günter Litfin becomes the first person to be shot and killed whilst trying to escape to West Berlin following the construction of the Berlin Wall (August 24th 1961) As one of thousands of Berliners who regularly commuted across the border of the divided city, Günter Litfin dreamt of becoming a successful clothes designer. After completing his apprenticeship as a tailor in East Berlin he found work in an atelier near Bahnhof Zoo and soon began making a reputation for himself working with some of the most glamorous names in West Berlin showbusiness. Life as a Grenzgänger (border jumper) was dangerous but not without its rewards. Working in the West meant Litfin could count his days in highly desired Westmark, whilst maintaining a certain level of comfort…

On this day: Ida Siekmann becomes the first known victim of the Berlin Wall

[caption id="attachment_3978" align="alignleft" width="480"] Berlin Wall Victim Ida Siekmann[/caption] On this day: Fatally injured fleeing from East Berlin, Ida Siekmann becomes the first known victim of the Berlin Wall. (August 22nd 1961) In the early hours of August 22nd 1961, Ida Siekmann leapt from the window of her 4th floor apartment in East Berlin. Although her apartment was located in the East of the city, the pavement below on Bernauer Strasse, by quirk of the city's boundaries, lay in the West Berlin district of Wedding. Following the construction of the initial stages of the Berlin Wall nine days earlier, desperate residents jumping from their apartment windows on the south side of Bernauer Strasse to the West generic metformin xr side of the city became a common sight. Many were assisted by the West Berlin fire brigade. Some caught in a desperate tug-a-war with the East German border guards. Not wanting to…