No matter where you turn in Berlin, the wall’s omnipresent graffitied remains suggest that no physical barrier is greater than the human will to overcome obstacles, no matter how tall and stark.
Germany may have a few things to teach the United States.
By Abigail Weinberg
Photos: A. Weinberg unless stated otherwise
At a time when “the most powerful man in the world” is threatening to erect a barrier between the United States and Mexico, a visit to the Berlin Wall proves to be particularly poignant. The wall, which stood from 1961 to 1989, separated Soviet East Germany from the West while dividing families and friends who happened to live on opposite sides of the border. Today, segments of the wall still stand scattered throughout the city to remind visitors and residents of the suffering once inflicted by Cold War political differences.
The most impressive and solemn monument to the wall is the Berlin Wall Memorial, located on Bernauer Strasse where the wall intersected a cemetery owned by the Sophien parish. The Memorial lies between remaining portions of the wall and commemorates the 139 deaths that occurred at the border. Informational plaques line the expansive, open-air museum, giving visitors a sense of how the wall felt when it divided the city while informing them on the important events in its history.
One of the main Berlin Wall tourist attractions, and much less dreary, is Checkpoint Charlie, a former crossing point between the East and the West. A large poster displays a Soviet soldier on one side and an American soldier on the other, to simulate the feeling of being watched on either side of the crossing. Two men guard the checkpoint and pose for pictures with tourists.
Not far from Checkpoint Charlie on Erna-Berger-Strasse is the only remaining watchtower from the wall. The tower is preserved independently by amateur historian Jörg Moser-Metius, according to CNN Travel, and visitors are free to climb up it and stand where East German soldiers once stood.
Last but not least is the East Side Gallery, a mural-covered section of wall along the river Spree that converts a stark historical relic into something beautiful. The murals on the wall for the most part represent not resentment at the wall’s existence but rather joy at its eventual destruction. No matter where you turn in Berlin, the wall’s omnipresent graffitied remains suggest that no physical barrier is greater than the human will to overcome obstacles, no matter how tall and stark.
Featured image by Tony Webster via Flickr CC BY2.0