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Posts tagged ‘Berliner Geschichte’

My Berlin: Bornholmer Strasse, first through the Wall

By today’s appearance, it’s easy to overlook the bridge at Bornholmer Strasse (also known as Bösebrücke) as an historic landmark. On the night of 9 November 1989, the Berlin Wall opened here first, at the Bornholmer Strasse bridge border-crossing between East Berlin and West Berlin.

28 years undone in a matter of hours

The city of Berlin was divided in two between 1961 and 1989 with a physical wall as the physical manifestation of East German (GDR/DDR) policy. Bornholmer Strasse was the northernmost of the seven road border-crossings between West and East Berlin. Only citizens of West Berlin and West Germany (FRG/BRD) could enter East Berlin at this crossing, whereas citizens of East Berlin and East Germany were forbidden from using the crossing into West Berlin.

On 9 November 1989, the East German government announced new travel regulations which were incorrectly stated at a news conference. But once word had gotten out East Berliners could travel “freely” across the “open border” into West Berlin without the onerous process of a travel visa, people gathered at various border crossings, including Bornholmer Strasse at around 8pm. Border guards began letting pedestrians and cars trickle across the border by 930pm. Guards at other road crossings also began letting people through. But hundreds gathered became thousands, and when it became clear no additional support was forthcoming to manage “control” of the border, border guards decided on their own initiative to open the gates wide open at around 1130pm to relieve mounting pressure and appease those who openly demanded free passage. Just after midnight, 20-thousand people had already crossed the Bornholmer Strasse bridge and the inner-German/intra-Berlin border. The Wall was effectively finished without a shot fired that night. All border controls ceased on 1 July 1990 (day of monetary union), and checkpoints were no longer manned on 3 October 1990 (German Reunification Day).

Unveiled on 9 November 2010, a memorial and permanent exhibition occupy the new square, Platz des 9. November 1989, by the northeast corner of the bridge to commemorate that historic evening. Metal strips on the ground highlight events; for example:

2242h (1042pm): “Die Tore in der Mauer stehen weit offen,” Tagesthemen ARD (“The gates at the Wall are wide open,” reported on West German ARD-TV news-program Tagesthemen.)

2320h (1120pm): “Tor auf! Tor auf! Wir kommen wieder, wir kommen wieder!” Ostberliner. (East Berliners shouting, “Open the gate! We’re coming!”)

2330h (1130pm): “Wir fluten jetzt! Wir machen alles auf!” Stasi-Offizier (“We’re flooded with people! We’re going to open everything!” Stasi officers)

0015h (1205am): “Wahnsinn”, “Irre”, “nicht zu fassen”. 20.000 Menschen haben die Bösebrücke passiert. (Crazy, nuts, unbelievable; 20-thousand people cross the Bösebrücke bridge.)

Bornholmer Strasse station

With its inauguration on 1 October 1935, the Bornholmer Strasse station saw S-Bahn train service from central Berlin north to the outlying towns of Bernau, Oranienburg, and Velten (e.g., 1936). S-Bahn service resumed with reconstruction after the Second World War (e.g., 1951). Because of its proximity to the East-West Berlin border and subsequent construction of the Berlin Wall, Bornholmer Strasse station closed on 13 August 1961, becoming a Geisterbahnhof or “ghost station”. West Berlin’s S-Bahn trains sped through the station without stopping, whereas East German trains traveled on new tracks from late-1961 along the so-called “Ulbricht curve” between barriers near the “ghost station”; see images below. The station reopened 22 December 1990 for West Berlin trains, and a second platform opened the following August to allow train interchange. Today, Bornholmer Strasse station is served by trains on S-Bahn Berlin routes S1, S2, S25, S26, S8, and S85; additional side branches of the S-Bahn Ringbahn from both Gesundbrunnen and Schönhauser Allee stations go to Pankow via Bornholmer Strasse.


Present appearance

Boesebruecke, Bornholmer Strasse, S Bornholmer Strasse, S-Bahn Berlin, Berliner Mauer, Berlin Wall, Berlin, Hauptstadt, Germany, fotoeins.com

Facing south-southwest, S-Bahn Berlin trains at Bornholmer Strasse station with the Fernsehturm at left (HL)

Boesebruecke, Bornholmer Strasse, S Bornholmer Strasse, S-Bahn Berlin, Berliner Mauer, Berlin Wall, Berlin, Hauptstadt, Germany, fotoeins.com

“Present-day relic” (HL for LC)

Boesebruecke, Bornholmer Strasse, S Bornholmer Strasse, S-Bahn Berlin, Berliner Mauer, Berlin Wall, Berlin, Hauptstadt, Germany, fotoeins.com

S-Bahn Bahnhof Bornholmer Strasse, opened 1 October 1935 (HL)

Boesebruecke, Bornholmer Strasse, S Bornholmer Strasse, S-Bahn Berlin, Berliner Mauer, Berlin Wall, Berlin, Hauptstadt, Germany, fotoeins.com

Bösebrücke with tram tracks down the middle, facing west from Prenzlauer Berg side (HL)

Boesebruecke, Bornholmer Strasse, S Bornholmer Strasse, S-Bahn Berlin, Platz des 9. November 1989, Berliner Mauer, Berlin Wall, Berlin, Hauptstadt, Germany, fotoeins.com

Bösebrücke, with Berlin Wall marker on southeast/Prenzlauer Berg side (HL)

Platz des 9. November 1989, Boesebruecke, Bornholmer Strasse, S Bornholmer Strasse, S-Bahn Berlin, Berliner Mauer, Berlin Wall, Berlin, Hauptstadt, Germany, fotoeins.com

Platz des 9. November 1989, Bornholmer Strasse bridge, northeast/Prenzlauer Berg side. The plaque in the stone reads: “An der Brücke ‘Bornholmer Strasse’ öffnete sich in der Nacht vom 9. zum 10. November 1989 erstmals seit dem 13. August 1961 die Mauer. Die Berliner kamen wieder zusammen. Willy Brandt: ‘Berlin wird leben, und die Mauer wird fallen.'” | “For the first time since 1961 August 13, the Wall was opened at Bornholmer Street bridge on the night of 1989 November 9-10. Berliners were reunited again. Willy Brandt said: ‘Berlin will live on, and the Wall will come down.'” (HL)

Platz des 9. November 1989, Boesebruecke, Bornholmer Strasse, S Bornholmer Strasse, S-Bahn Berlin, Berliner Mauer, Berlin Wall, Berlin, Hauptstadt, Germany, fotoeins.com

Platz des 9. November 1989 (HL)

Boesebruecke, Bornholmer Strasse, S Bornholmer Strasse, S-Bahn Berlin, Berliner Mauer, Berlin Wall, Berlin, Hauptstadt, Germany, fotoeins.com

Platz des 9. November 1989 and the memorial, Bornholmer Strasse, facing east (HL)

Boesebruecke, Bornholmer Strasse, S Bornholmer Strasse, S-Bahn Berlin, Berliner Mauer, Berlin Wall, Berlin, Hauptstadt, Germany, fotoeins.com

Platz des 9. November 1989 and the memorial, facing west to Bornholmer Strasse bridge (HL)

Platz des 9. November 1989, Boesebruecke, Bornholmer Strasse, S Bornholmer Strasse, S-Bahn Berlin, Berliner Mauer, Berlin Wall, Berlin, Hauptstadt, Germany, fotoeins.com

Map of the memorial at Platz des 9. November 1989 (HL)


Archival & Historical Images

Berliner Mauer, Berlin Wall, Wikipedia, SansCulotte, CC2.0

Berlin Wall and border crossings, by SansCulotte on Wikipedia (CC2). The location of the border crossing between West- and East-Berlin at Bornholmer Strasse/Bosebrücke is indicated by a red rectangle. Only West Berliners and citizens of West Germany were allowed to enter into East Berlin at this crossing.

Boesebruecke, Bornholmer Strasse, S Bornholmer Strasse, S-Bahn Berlin, Platz des 9. November 1989, Berliner Mauer, Berlin Wall, Berlin, Hauptstadt, Germany, fotoeins.com

The filled red circle indicates the present-day location of the Platz des 9. November 1989 memorial at the northeast corner of Bornholmer Strasse bridge. The train station closed after 1961, becoming a “ghost station” (labeled ‘G’). Note the wall (labeled ‘W’) separating West and East Berlin, the absence of vehicular traffic near or around the bridge (labeled ‘B’), and secondary walls and physical obstructions at the border crossing (Grenzübergangsstelle, GÜSt) and bridge from the east side. The overhead image was likely taken by East Berlin/East German security personnel on border patrol. Picture likely from 1980s on an information pillar at the memorial; you can compare the above with similar pictures from the Stasi Mediathek.

Berlin ghost stations, ericmetro, Wikipedia CC1

Berlin ghost stationsm as grey “no entry” symbols. West-Berlin routes for U-Bahn U6 and U8 and S-Bahn S2 went through East Berlin; trains did not stop at stations inside East Berlin with junction station Friedrichstrasse as the key exception. Bornholmer Strasse station is identified as an open red rectangle. Source: Wikimedia.

BVG, U-Bahn, S-Bahn, West Berlin, East Berlin, West Germany, East Germany

West Berlin BVG transport map, dated April 1989, 7 months before the fall of the Wall. Just like Bornholmer Strasse station (labeled with an open red rectangle), “ghost stations” are represented as open squares. Source: berliner-verkehr.de.

Facing north, divided tracks towards Bornholmer Strasse station (left-centre) and bridge. Photo made in 1990 after the fall of the Wall (Wikipedia CC3).

Bösebrücke border-crossing on the West Berlin side, 1984 (By popo.uw23 / Flickr CC1)

Bundesarchiv (German Federal Archive), photo on 18 November 1989 by Robert Roeske. My translation of the original picture caption: “About one million East-German citizens visited West Berlin on Saturday (18 Nov 1989). People cleared quickly through border crossing points, as seen here at Bornholmer Strasse. Since 9 November, the East German Ministry of the Interior has granted in excess of 10 million visas for private travel and more than 17500 permits for permanent departure from East Germany.” (Wikimedia CC3)

Extras

•   Former border crossing at Bornholmer Strasse (berlin.de): EnglishGerman.
•   Damals-Heute (then and now) picture comparison, Chronik der Mauer, in German.
•   Die Nacht, in der die Mauer fiel (The night the Wall fell), 30-minute YouTube video in German.
•   “Bornholmer Strasse”, 88-minute movie in German about the border guards on the night the Wall fell.
•   Kreuzberged provides a concise history of the Bornholmer Strasse bridge (in English).

I made the above pictures labeled “HL” on 8 May 2015. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-ajU. Revised 9 Nov 2018 for S-Bahn routes through the train station.

GeistDerBahnhöfe, Südlicher Zugang, Invalidenstrasse, Nordbahnhof, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

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 fotoeins.com, and also appears on Travel Photo Thursday for Budget Travelers Sandbox.

Berlin Wall fragment, Niederkirchnerstrasse, fotoeins.com

Fotoeins Friday: downfall, the Berlin Wall

Here along Niederkirchnerstrasse is a 200-metre stretch of the Berlin Wall (Berliner Mauer), marking the former border between Berlin-Mitte (East Berlin) and Kreuzberg (West Berlin). In the foreground is the Topography of Terror museum. The neo-Renaissance building behind the wall is the Abgeordnetenhaus or the State Parliament building for the city-state of Berlin. Rising in the background at Potsdamer Platz are two skyscrapers: Kohlhoff Tower on the left, and the Deutsche Bahn headquarters on the right.

9 November 2014 marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. In the second map below, the thick red border marks the extent for West Berlin, which from 1961 to 1989, was an island in the sea of East Germany.

I made the photo above of the Wall section on Niederkirchnerstrasse on 18 March 2011 with the Canon EOS450D (XSi) camera, 50-prime, and the following settings: 1/80s, f/5, ISO100, 50mm focal length (80mm full-frame equivalent). This post appears on fotoeins DOT com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-5wc.

Former path of the Wall, Ebertstrasse, near Platz des 18. März, Brandenburger Tor, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

Fotoeins Friday: shadows from the Berlin Wall

In the early hours of 13 August 1961, construction began quietly on the Berlin Wall, as residents of the city slept. Two months earlier in response to a journalist’s question about rumours of a wall, East German leader Ulbricht publicly stated: “Niemand hat die Absicht, eine Mauer zu errichten!” (No one has any intention of building a wall.)

East Germany (DDR/GDR) asserted the wall’s purpose as an “anti-fascist protection barrier” to protect its citizens from the West. With thousands streaming to the west, the GDR could not afford to continue losing people and their subsequent productivity to the economy; the nation’s wall would keep her own people locked inside. Berlin was visibly divided in two, as too, would the ideological and physical separation between West and East Germany.

With the fall of the Wall in 1989, large portions of the Wall were demolished in a rush to destroy visible reminders, save for a number of notable exceptions throughout the city. Few wall remnants or fragments remain; the East Side Gallery, the long segment on Niederkirchner Strasse, and the Memorial and Documentation Centre at Bernauer Strasse are some of the most visible. As shown above, cobblestones on the pavement provide visible traces and essential reminders about the former route of the Wall.

I made the photo above on 19 October 2012 in Berlin on Ebertstrasse, just west of Platz des 18. März and Brandenburg Gate (near position 12 in this walking tour). This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-5gu.

Pavement marker Niederkirchnerstrasse, between Martin-Gropius Bau & Topographie des Terrors, Berlin, Germany - 2. Okt. 2009

The Berlin Wall, 1961-1989

Some view East Germany (GDR/DDR) with great fondness, if it’s a comparison made between today with the “good old days.” I’m not interested in the “Ostalgie” (nostalgia for the former east). I’m interested in learning how a system in place does a gradual creep, takes over a country and her people. Before they realize what’s happening, their own government has locked them inside the borders to prevent them from leaving; get caught trying to escape near the border, and you’ll be shot for your trouble.

“No intention to build a wall …”

On 15 June 1961, when asked at a press conference if a wall would be erected between west and east Berlin, Walter Ulbricht, leader of the GDR’s only recognized political party, the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands), answered:

“Die Bauarbeiter unserer Hauptstadt beschäftigen sich hauptsächlich mit Wohnungsbau, und ihre Arbeitskraft wird dafür voll eingesetzt. Niemand hat die Absicht, eine Mauer zu errichten.”

“Construction workers in our capital city are fully engaged in residential construction, and the labour force is deployed for that purpose. No one has any intention of putting up a wall.”

(Chronik der Mauer | YouTube )

Privately, Ulbricht had already been pushing hard to build a wall to stop the increasing number of people leaving East Germany for the West. Building a wall would also strengthen the (buffer) position of East Germany within the developing Soviet satellite-empire.

Two months later at midnight on August 13, work began quietly on a wall, and orders were given for additional troops to guard and “protect” the border. Berliners awoke at daybreak to a divided city.

( Click here for more )

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