A few days ago I posted about the artistic side of the Berlin Wall, today let’s look at the historical side of it, and specifically how it impacted people’s life. We’re going to the Berlin Wall Memorial to see what it was like to live around the wall for 30 odd years.
The construction of the Berlin Wall must be one of the most bizzaire thing that I’ve ever come across, in fact I would rank it on par with those who advocated Brexit, but don’t get me started on that. There was only one objective of the Berlin Wall – to keep the East Berliners in, so when the government built the wall they pretty much just drew a straight line around the border cutting around houses or even through if necessary.
紀念碑園地沿著當年拍林牆1.3公里而建造，總面積有4.4公頃。 在園地裏可以見到當年牆壁的遺蹟， 大部份沿著房屋外建造，但亦有一部分直接穿過房子，所以當年東德為了要 建成整道柏林牆硬要把人家房屋拆掉。 你說這不是極之荒謬的事情嗎?
The Berlin Wall Memorial is located at Bernauer Strasse in the center of Berlin and is the main site to commemorate the victims of the Berlin Wall. The whole memorial site covers is 4.4 hectares large and 1.3km long, and follows the part of the wall before it came down. As you walk around the site, you see the wall in its different forms which also represents the different phases of its life and history. Parts of the wall have been stripped off the outer layer to show the structure and the lengths the East Germans went to to build this wall. Other parts have been left in its original form, and then there are some parts which have street art on it.
Most of the memorial is open air so it’s like you’re actually stepping into history when you’re there. You can get an idea of what the wall was like around the residential area, and the impact this had on both the East and West Berliners. Imagine waking up one morning to find this wall outside your flat and you’re not allowed to go across it. Initially when people realised what was happening, they jumped out of the windows onto safety nets that West Germany had lay out for them. Gradually the residents were forced out of these properties by the authorities who then bricked up the doors and windows to stop people escaping.
However, this still didn’t stop some East Germans from fleeing, and many tried to escape using different means including digging up an underground tunnel. It is estimated that some 75 tunnels were dug during the three decades that the Wall was up, though not all escapees made it. In October 1964, 57 East Berliners successfully escaped via a tunnel, this became to be known as Tunnel 57. Today, slabs are placed on the ground to mark the tunnel which extends towards the wall, which is where the steel poles are. To us, looking at this and wandering around the grounds, the slabs and the row of thin poles all seems very innocent, and is just a short relaxing stroll for us. Yet to the East Berliners some half a century ago, this short distance meant life or death for them.
And if you think the building a wall outside one’s house is bizarre, then you haven’t heard it all yet. You see that steel pole in the middle of the photo below? That’s one of the poles that form the line of wall we just saw in front of the tunnel. This line of pole runs all the way right into this structure in the photo. This structure was somebody’s home or rather basement, so the East German’s just knocked down the house and built the wall right across it!! After the wall came down, the basement of this house was excavated and now it forms part of the memorial site. Absolute madness!!
As I walked along the 1.4km memorial grounds, there were various ways where we were told the story of the past. The Window of Remembrance commemorates victims of the Berlin Wall, with their names and date so each person is remembered as an individual who lost their life under this bizarre regime.
Parts of the wall are retained along the way and are turned into art work. I think this gives us another perspective of how history has changed and fit in with the modern world.
And finally I leave you with my favourite shot that I took at the Berlin Wall Memorial, its just a random photo of the columns that are part of the memorial installations. Hope you enjoyed the tour and understand a bit more about the madness that happened under the East Germany regime.
之前聽過柏林牆，但只知道它是一道牆壁，其他的事情不太了解 。到過柏林牆紀念碑後，除了讓我認識歷史的荒謬外， 還對我起了極大的啟示。 親身站在柏林牆和前東德房屋旁， 可以理解到當年從鐵幕裡看到自由世界近在咫尺的心情。