Monuments  

 

Berlin Wall

The Berlin Wall as a building structure (Edition 2001-2003)


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The universal view of the Berlin Wall is largely identical with the view from the West - the side "facing the enemy" as the Border Guard files put it. But potential fugitives from the Republic, whom the Wall was supposed to stop, approached it from the other side - the "friendward" side towards East-Berlin and towards the GDR - and this face, therefore, was its real front. This aspect of the border never imprinted itself on people's minds because it was kept from public view as much as possible and remained largely unapproachable.

The extant remains, in their totality, provide a relatively detailed and vivid image of the system of border obstacles and how they were arranged from East to West. The first indications of the border to a would-be fugitive were various warning signs such as red-and-white posts and demarcations or a low railing also painted red and white. There were signs bearing the inscription "Frontier area - Passage not allowed" in German, English, French and Russian.

Within the restricted area, but still outside the border fortifications proper, there are many additional installations which could be called "perimeter defences". Some of these additional defences were prefabricated concrete walls, fences and various obstacles (often in the form of "flower bowl barricades"); there were also metal grids barring windows or obstacles to prevent people from scaling fences and walls, and additional light installations in the vicinity of the hinterland Wall.

The "hinterland Wall" marked the limit of the area for which the soldiers of Border Command were responsible. It can be seen in many sections, some of considerable length. Much of the remaining hinterland Wall still bears its original paintwork of white oblongs framed in grey.

Its face towards the death strip was whitewashed to render the detection of fugitives easier, even at night. Quite frequently older structures (such as the side walls of houses laid bare by the demolition of neighbouring buildings close to the border) became part of the hinterland Wall and were whitewashed accordingly. The hinterland Wall remnants assume many guises but they always serve to indicate the extent of the death strip towards the East.

A fugitive successfully scaling the hinterland Wall would find himself directly in front of the electrical signalling fence. Touching it triggered an alarm. One element of this electrical signalling fence are the numerous switchboxes on the "friendward" side of the death strip; they were also connected to the light strip...

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german version:
cover_de
ISBN 3-929592-50-9

english version:
cover_en
ISBN 3-929592-40-1