Berlin Wall

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

pfeil_links_3366cc | 1 | 2 | 3

Often there were dog runs and other obstacles installed behind the signalling fence - such as metal nettings bearing long steel spikes which could inflict terrible injuries on people landing on them from the fence.

Watchtowers were probably the most conspicuous elements within the death strip. Each group of the slender watchtowers was controlled from one of the sturdier command posts. All three extant towers on the border around West Berlin belong to the command post type; none of the watchtowers remained in its original location although there are places where their "footprints" may still be seen.

The macadam or concrete patrol road which is preserved in many long sections was the logistic lifeline of the Border Troops on duty - not only as the path patrolled by soldiers, but also as the road for any vehicles transporting soldiers to and from their posts and bringing food and water to the dogs in their runs. The access gates in the hinterland Wall should be seen in the context of the patrol road.

The masts of the light strip flanked the patrol road - usually on the side of the road "facing the enemy". They were placed to illuminate not the path, but the control strip between the road and the border Wall. The control strip was simply a broad band of raked sand which retained the traces of footsteps: in case of a successful escape it was possible to ascertain which Border Guard had failed in his duty - a fact which encouraged them to stay alert during their shift.

The Western side of the patrol road also featured colour markings, usually applied to the light masts: horizontal bars coloured red-white-green-white. They marked the "patrol limit". Border Guards were not allowed to overstep this line unannounced as this would have been interpreted as an escape attempt and their colleagues would have had to open fire.

The 'Forward Blocking Element', the border Wall immediately at the sector border, has always been regarded as 'The Wall' proper and has attracted most of the general public's attention. Today, sections of the Wall of the fourth generation border Wall survive only in three locations - in Niederkirchner Straße, Bernauer Straße and Liesenstraße (the long Wall known as East Side Gallery, although was built as "Border Wall 75", is technically hinterland Wall). But there are also quasi-archaeological remains of older Border Wall generations in various places.

The various Border Crossing Stations represented a special situation in the border. They allowed passage for pedestrians, cars and rail travellers respectively, and also for freight ships. Invariably they were subjected to severe security measures. The complex patterns which governed the border traffic have left many traces in the shape of road markings, light masts, flag poles and remains such as gates and control huts.

pfeil_links_3366cc | 1 | 2 | 3


german version:
ISBN 3-929592-50-9

english version:
ISBN 3-929592-40-1