Visiting the Berlin Wall: a variety of experiences

Berlin, BE, Germany
Distance: 8 km
by Deakin University

The Berlin Wall, that divided East and West Germany during the Cold War and was built in 1961 by the SED communist regime[1] to prevent East-Germans from fleeing to the West, had a length of over 150km. Once a symbol of oppression and dictatorship and a place where many people found their death,[2] the Wall can be classified as heritage of pain and shame. However, with the fall of the Wall in 1989, the heritage also turned into a symbol of freedom and liberation, giving it two contrasting meanings. Although the public wanted the Berlin Wall gone instantly after the fall of the communist regime and most parts have been demolished,[3] this previously marginalized heritage changed through foreign attention, some active individualists and the slowly rising realization that parts of the German history were about to get lost,[4] into one of Berlins most popular visitor attractions. It is presented to visitors and citizens in different ways and in several places throughout the city and is received and understood in various ways. This podcast will point out some places in Berlin that visualize the history of Germany’s second dictatorship and the Wall. It will enlarge upon how the heritage is used in the present and how each place conveys aspects about the Berlin Wall, for example the identification with victims, identity, urban development or political issues.

Visiting the Berlin Wall: a variety of experiences - Cya On The Road

[1] Gerd Knischewski and Ulla Spittler, “Remembering the Berlin Wall: The Wall Memorial Ensemble Bernauer Strasse,” German Life and Letters 59 (2006): 283.[2] Hope Harrison, “The Berlin Wall and its Resurrection as a Site of Memory,” German Politics and Society 99 (2011): 79.[3] Jonathan Bach, “Memory Landscapes and the Labor of the Negative in Berlin,” International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society 26 (2013): 34.[4] Harrison, “The Berlin Wall and its Resurrection as a Site of Memory,” 80.

 

Fig. 1. Construction of the Berlin Wall. Source: Seang Y Teng, Construction of the Berlin wall, 1961. 2017, Digital Image. Available from: Flickr, https://www.flickr.com/photos/tengseangy/34162409862/ (accessed May 19, 2017).

Fig. 2. Berlin Wall History Mile, cobblestones and plaque. Source: cheek@, Berliner Mauer. 2011, Digital Image. Available from: Flickr, https://www.flickr.com/photos/40853265@N00/5653372316/ (accessed May 19, 2017).

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