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Posts tagged ‘Geschichte Berlins’

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.

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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.

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