On Thursday, we planned to make a guided tour of the former Berlin Wall cutting the city into a western and eastern part from 1961 to 1989. Therefore, we were meeting Mr. Welke, who had grown up in the so-called “GDR” (eastern part) himself, to show us special places all over town, meant to be monuments of the time of division.
So first, we went to the most famous remaining borders segments, situated at the Invalidenfriedhof and the Niederkirchnerstraße, next to the river “Spree”. These remaining parts of the Wall, also known as the “East Side Gallery”, span over 1.3 km although they are hardly identifiable as a former frontier today. This is due to the fact that it was painted by 118 international artists later turning the once “ugliest piece of architecture in the world” into a beautifully painted symbol and the longest open-air gallery worldwide altogether.
At the same time as we were strolling along the wall our tour guide was telling us stories of lucky and tragically attempted escapes and other experiences he had faced in his childhood. Thus it was almost possible for our group to imagine and to understand the very difficult, daily life of the German people living in the eastern part of Berlin.
Nevertheless, the uncountable drawings themselves stand for the meaningfulness of the art, also giving a warning and message to the viewer never to forget and even to learn from the dramatic time in the 20th century.
Hence, all in all visiting the East Side Gallery was truly impressive and touching because we finally realised that present-day’s freedom and rights should not be taken for granted so easily.
Written by Nathalie and Niclas