[Berlin Wall Monument]
The Berlin Wall became an international symbol of the division of Germany after the Second World War and also of the Cold War between East and West.
The construction of the Berlin Wall began on August 13, 1961. The government of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) built this more than 150-km-long barrier to hermetically seal off East Berlin and the rest of the GDR. More than 2.7 million people had fled the GDR between October 1949 and August 1961, the majority of them across border separating Berlin's Eastern and Western sectors. The Wall was designed to halt this stream of refugees and make it impossible to cross the border unchecked.
The installation consisted of several sections: a "front wall" and a "hinterland wall," an inner track with a patrol path, watchtowers, and barrier fortifications. By 1989, at least 136 people had lost their lives at the Wall, 98 of them while trying to flee. Most of them were shot down by GDR border guards.
Reforms in the Soviet Union and the rapidly growing protest movement in the GDR population, but also the flight of thousands of GDR citizens via Eastern European countries, led to the peaceful "fall" of the Wall on November 9, 1989. Soon afterwards, the first sections of the barrier were torn down. Even before the reunification of Germany on October 3, 1990, the Wall had largely disappeared from the Berlin cityscape.
At the request of the Topography of Terror, the remaining 200 meters of the Wall at Niederkirchnerstrase, which marked the border between the districts of Mitte (East Berlin) and Kreuzberg (West Berlin) have been preserved with all the traces of destruction that occurred during the transitional period. This fragment of the Wall, designated a historical monument in 1990, now forms part of the Topography of Terror Documentation Center. As one of the few surviving sections of the Wall in the city, it is also one of the central sites in the "Overall Concept for the Berlin Wall" developed by the Berlin Senate.