The Berlin Wall Memorial and East Side Gallery

The Berlin Wall enclosed West Berlin from August 13, 1961 to November 9, 1989 to prevent East Berliners from fleeing to the west. The wall imposed a line through the city center and caused grief for many loved ones who were separated from family and lovers. Many fled, but some were caught and executed. Border soldiers were ordered to shoot to prevent people from escaping, and a lot of effort was put into the border to prevent any attempt of escape.

Berlin Wall Memorial

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We visited The Berlin Wall Memorial on Bernauer Strasse, where an open-air exhibition explains the history of division. Bernauer Strasse is the historical site of when the wall was erected along this street. It became famous for people escaping through their windows.

Those who lived in apartment buildings that faced West Berlin escaped through their windows to get to the west. Later, soldiers put a stop to it by putting bricks in the window.

Those who lived in apartment buildings that faced West Berlin escaped through their windows to get to the west. Later, soldiers put a stop to it by putting bricks in the window.

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The Memorial Stone for the victims of the second world war, and the division of Germany.

The Memorial Stone for the victims of the second world war and the division of Germany.

Window of Remembrance: a place to remember the deaths at the wall.

Window of Remembrance: a place to remember the deaths at the wall.

East Side Gallery

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On a different day, we visited the East Side Gallery in the Friedrichshain neighborhood of Berlin on Muhlenstrasse. The open-air gallery is a monument to the fall of the Berlin Wall, with 101 paintings on the wall as a symbol of joy and freedom.

It was great to see the different paintings on the wall, but to see random graffiti and people’s written names of “so and so was here”, or “so and so equals love” on many of the images was disappointing as it ruined the sight of the artwork, defacing it even. However, cleaner versions of some of the images can be seen online from its earlier days without all the markings.

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It was good to see the East Side Gallery after the Berlin Wall Memorial, because after the humbling experience on Bernauer Strasse, the gallery was a reminder that the treacherous time ended: sorrow has been replaced with joy, freedom, and reunification.

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