Berlin: Up Against the Wall
It has been 17 years since the Berlin Wall fell, but the ghost of it continues to haunt the German capital today. There remain divided in many aspects of everyday life, from differing attitudes of East and West Berliners to disparities in how the city has physically developed since reunification. Berlin was understandably so eager to get rid of the thing that there is little of the Wall left to see today.
Most of the Wall-curious tourist crowd flocks to Checkpoint Charlie and its kitschy private museum, but a better bet is the city-run Berlin Wall Documentation Center on Bernauer Strasse in Wedding. It’s free to the public and offers a sober, non-sensationalistic portrait of the Wall and its era. Inside is an exhibit including original documents and film clips about the construction of the Wall, and you can climb a tower to look down on a preserved section of the barrier, complete with the “death strip” and patrol track in between the inner and outer walls.
The neighborhood of Wedding is also worth visiting. Empty lots still stand where the Wall used to be, and the patrol track remains, now used by dog-walkers and joggers. Reconstruction is moving quickly, however, and even these signs of the past will likely be torn down to make way for Berlin’s future.