Bernauer Straße is a street that separates the localities Mitte and Gesundbrunnen in central Berlin. Before the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) ceased to exist, Bernauer Straße was the last street of the former French sector of the city, and ran parallel to the Berlin Wall. West Berlin ended at Bernauer Straße. The site where the wall once stood bore witness to tragic episodes of successful and failed escapes, of arrests, and of the destruction of both buildings and memories.
Far from the bustling, graffiti-covered East Side Gallery, Bernauer Straße gives the visitor a more raw impression of what living in the shadow of the wall was like. While the piece of the Wall that is today the East Side Gallery became the canvas for messages of unity and commemorates the failure of the politics of separation, the Wall at Bernauer Straße is a solemn reminder of the tragedy of a divided city.
The sight of the bare concrete walls and watch towers is imposingly dreadful. The outline of the inner wall is also marked by steel rails embedded into the ground. They bear witness to the lengths the former East German government went to keep the citizens of the GDR from fleeing. The construction of the so-called “Anti-Fascist Protective Wall” started on August 13 1961 and was enhanced all through the very last days of the GDR. The Wall fell on the night of November 9 1989.