- Anyone visiting Berlin today would find it hard to imagine that this vibrant and cosmopolitan city was until only recently divided: through its heart ran a wall made of concrete and barbed wire, patrolled by armed guards and protected by a heavily mined death-strip. Erected on 13 August 1961 to halt the outflow of disaffected East German workers, the Wall broke up families and friendships, divided Germany and split Europe in two for nearly three decades. Over 200 people died in (often ingenious) escape attempts. No one will forget the night of 9 November 1989 when the Wall came crashing down. A peaceful revolution put paid to the bankrupt East German regime and Berliners from East and West met in their hundreds of thousands to dance on top of the Wall and celebrate the end of division. In the months following its fall, the Wall was bulldozed to the ground and the land where it stood auctioned off to the highest bidder. Not much of the original Wall is left today, with only one or two sections saved as a permanent reminder of the past. The longest and most impressive stretch can be seen at the East Side Gallery, while another section—this time full of chisel holes and graffiti—runs along Niederkirchner Straße just south of Potsdamer Platz. Hoards of tourists still flock to Checkpoint Charlie, but there is not much left to see except a gripping exhibition at Haus am Checkpoint Charlie. The Wall Memorial on Bernauer Straße is well worth a visit, while a more sombre moment could be spent contemplating the line of white crosses on Ebertstraße behind the Reichstag, dedicated to all those who died trying to flee East German tyranny.
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