Berlin Wall Monument

The Berlin Wall became an international symbol of the division of Germany after the Second World War and also of the Cold War between East and West.

Construction of the Berlin Wall began on August 13, 1961. The government of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) built this more than 150-kilometer-long barrier to hermetically seal off East Berlin and the rest of the territory of the GDR. More than 2.7 million people fled the GDR between October 1949 and August 1961, the majority of them across the border separating Berlin’s Eastern and Western sectors. The Wall was designed to halt this stream of refugees and make it impossible to cross the borders unchecked.

The installation consisted of several sections: a Vorderlandmauer (front wall) and a Hinterlandmauer (back wall), an inner track with a patrol path, watchtowers, and barrier fortifications. By 1989 at least 136 people had lost their lives at the Wall, 98 of them while trying to flee. Most of them were shot down by GDR guards.

Reforms in the Soviet Union, the rapidly growing protest movement in the GDR population, as well as the flight of thousands of GDR citizens via Eastern European countries led to the peaceful “fall” of the Wall on November 9, 1989. Soon afterwards the first sections of the barrier were torn down. Even before the reunification of Germany on October 3, 1990, the Wall had largely disappeared from the Berlin landscape.

At the request of the “Topography of Terror,” the remaining 200 meters of the Wall at Niederkirchnerstraße – which marked the border between the districts of Mitte (East Berlin) and Kreuzberg (West Berlin) – have been preserved with all the traces of the destruction that occurred during the transitional period. This fragment of the Wall, designated a historic monument in 1990, now forms part of the Topography of Terror Documentation Center. As one of the few surviving sectors of the Wall in the city, it is also one of the central sites in the “Overall Concept for the Berlin Wall” developed by the Berlin Senate.