HISTORY OF THE MEMORIAL

On October 2, 1990, the day before German reunification, the East Berlin magistrate declared the section of the border that ran across the Sophien parish cemetery a historical monument. In 1994, a competition was held for the design of a monument dedicated to the victims of the Berlin Wall and in memory of the division of the city. The monument was dedicated on August 13, 1998.

In 1997, on the initiative of the Berlin Senate, the Berlin Wall Association was created to oversee the establishment of a documentation center in the parish house of the Reconciliation Church to open on November 9, 1999, the 10th anniversary of the fall of the Wall. The center was to serve as an addition to the monument, providing factual information and political education.

The Chapel of Reconciliation on the former border strip was dedicated in 2000.

These three elements allow visitors to learn about the history and consequences of the Berlin Wall on three different levels: artistically, factually, and spiritually. Visitors are able to choose how they wish to approach the historical site and address the evidence of the past provided to them.

But over time it became evident that with almost the entire border fortifications torn down, very few meaningful places were left to convey the history. For this reason in 2006 a "Masterplan to Preserve the Memory of the Berlin Wall" was passed by the Berlin Senate, calling for the reinforcement and linking of the various Wall sites in Berlin.

Consequently, the memorial on Bernauer Strasse has been established as the central site of commemoration for the victims of the Berlin Wall. The Visitor Center at the corner of Bernauer Strasse and Gartenstrasse opened in 2009 and serves as a starting point for groups and individual visitors. It provides general information about the Wall and shows visitors what the memorial has to offer.

A central part of the memorial is the open-air exhibit on the former border strip on the south side of Bernauer Strasse that is accessible at all times. The Berlin landscape and architecture offices “sinai” and “ON architektur” designed this 1.3 km long and 4.4 hectare large expanse into a novel memorial landscape. The existing remains and traces of the Berlin Wall have been preserved, helping to make the dramatic historical events come alive. The “Window of Remembrance,” completed in 2010, is a central element on the grounds of the former Sophien parish cemetery, providing the victims at the Berlin Wall with a dignified commemorative site.

On November 9, 2014, the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Wall, the new permanent exhibition "1961 | 1989. The Berlin Wall" opened in the memorial’s renovated documentation center. The exhibition explains the political and historical situation that led to the Wall’s construction, its fall, and the reunification of Germany.

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Errichtung des Denkmals

Erecting the Monument, 1998,
photo: C. Jungeblodt