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GeistDerBahnhöfe, Südlicher Zugang, Invalidenstrasse, Nordbahnhof, Berlin, Germany,

Fotoeins Friday: Berlin Nordbahnhof, ghost no more

“Geist der Bahnhöfe”

From this photograph of Berlin’s Nordbahnhof, it’s hard to imagine the train station once used for long-distance trains to northern Germany had been closed, known as a “Geisterbahnhof” or “ghost station”. Not only did the Wall divide country and city, but also divided the existing urban train network in Berlin. This transit map from 1989 shows how the green, blue, and purple lines in West Berlin go through East Berlin. To prevent East Germans from escaping to the West, BVG trains in West Berlin would not stop at stations located in East Berlin; all passengers would see were dimly-lit dusty derelict stations guarded by East German border patrols. After the fall of the Wall in 1989, reconstruction led to the reopening of Nordbahnhof on 1 September 1990, a month before German reunification. Today, S-Bahn S1, S2, and S25 trains on the important north-south “central axis” stop here.

Perhaps the title of the photo should be “Geist des Bahnhofes” to account for the grammar, but I prefer my choice. I also would’ve liked the photo a little earlier at 245pm to “slice” the S column, but I might not have had these four well-placed figures in this “late decision moment.” I think the light, colour, and elements converge favourably in composition to reflect the spirit of the station and the resilient people of Berlin.

More, in English and German

2014 marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Wall, and the 90th anniversary of S-Bahn service in Berlin. 2015 is the 25th anniversary of the reunification of Germany.

•   Berlin Wall Memorial | Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer
•   Inside Nordbahnhof station: Ghost stations exhibition | Geisterbahnhöfe Ausstellung
•   Border station in a divided city, by Rebecca Holland
•   Berlin’s Ghost Stations, by Marcel Krueger
•   Where the wall once stood there is now a park next to Nordbahnhof, by Georg Seebode

I made the image above at the south entrance (Invalidenstrasse) to S-Bahn Nordbahnhof station on 19 October 2012 with the Canon EOS450D (XSi) camera, EF 18-55 IS II lens, and the following settings: 1/800s, f/8, ISO200, 18mm (29mm) focal length. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at, and also appears on Travel Photo Thursday for Budget Travelers Sandbox.

6 Responses to “Fotoeins Friday: Berlin Nordbahnhof, ghost no more”

  1. Dale

    I’ve walked past this station a couple of times over the past few occasions we’ve been in Berlin and there’s always been something about it that fascinated me, though I’ve never known the history about it until I read this post. Thanks for schooling me a little 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • fotoeins

      Hi, Dale; no worries! There is a lot to learn in Berlin. In my view, the entire area around the station is fascinating! 🙂 There’s the exhibit inside Nordbahnhof describing the “ghost stations”; the park area (former run of the wall) north from the station, Park am Nordbahnhof; and the Berlin Wall Memorial at Bernauer Strasse which is a short walk or tram ride from Nordbahnhof. Thanks again for reading and for your comment!


  2. Nancie

    Hi Harry. I don’t remember this station, but I was in Germany when I was 19 years old. I do remember coming in by train, and being detained because I did not have the correct ticket. Being locked in a room by a German patrol guard was just a tad scary. Great shot, and thanks for linking up this week. #TPThursday

    Liked by 1 person

    • fotoeins

      Hi, Nancie. Yikes: where in Germany were you detained? Was it in East Germany? East Berlin? Or was it simply a misunderstanding of getting the right kind of train ticket? Sounded very serious; what happened eventually? Thanks again for reading and for you comment!


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