Fotoeins Fotografie

questions of place & home

Posts tagged ‘East Berlin’

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.


( Click here for images and more )

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.

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 )

Erna-Berger-Strasse, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

My Berlin: a lonely watchtower stands in Mitte

I’m sure I would’ve immersed myself in European history and languages, had I not studied physics or astronomy. After two years of working in Germany, I developed a deep interest for language and her people. Even after having left the country in 2003, I’ve been fortunate to return once or twice each year.

I had read about one of the few remaining DDR-Wachtürme (East German Watchtowers) in Berlin. On a December afternoon, light snowfall in the German capital city seemed to slow both human and mechanized activity. I wandered slowly into Berlin Mitte to check out the location of an old East German watchtower that’s been listed as a historical monument since 2001.

( Click here for more )

%d bloggers like this: