Berlin Wall Trail - From Schöneweide to Schönefeld

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map of Berlin
Enlarge photo: Dokumentationszentrum NS-Zwangsarbeit Berlin
Former National Socialist camp for forced laborers on Britzer Strasse in Schöneweide Image: Dokumentationszentrum NS-Zwangsarbeit Berlin, Hoffmann

This section of the Wall Trail is only six kilometers long and offers several opportunities to take a detour. Before starting on your way along the border strip, you could visit the former National Socialist camp for forced laborers on Britzer Strasse in Schöneweide. As Berlin’s last camp of its kind still standing, it was classified as a historical monument in 1995 and turned into a documentation center. Back on Michael-Brückner-Strasse, you continue northwest underneath the train tracks to Sterndamm, where you can visit the local history museum housed in the old Johannisthal town hall building (No. 102). If you are not interested in the museum, you can take Gross-Berliner-Damm and Segelflieger Damm to Stubenrauchstrasse to reach the Teltowkanal.

Enlarge photo: Reste der Hinterlandmauer am Landschaftspark Rudow/Altglienicke
Remaining sections of the inner wall (Hinterlandmauer) in front of Rudower Höhe Image: Senatskanzlei

You can also take a break from your trip into the past with a look at the Berlin-Adlershof science, industry, and media park and the Adlershof Nature and Landscape Park. These were built on the grounds of the former Johannisthal airfield. On the other side of the Teltowkanal, near the artificial hill Rudower Höhe, you can see a relatively long section of the inner wall (“Hinterlandsicherungsmauer”) at its original location. The A113 expressway and the Rudow/Altglienicke Landscape Park have covered up large parts of the former border strip between Teltowkanal and Waltersdorfer Chausee.

Enlarge photo: Abhörtunnel' in Altglienicke; Pressebesichtigung durch West-Berliner Journalisten auf Einladung der sowjetischen Militärbehörde (Bezirk Treptow/Altglienicke, an der Grenze nach Rudow, Bezirk Neukölln)
Berlin Spy Tunnel; 1956 Image: Landesarchiv Berlin 0046853/Gert Schütz

South of Rudower Höhe, which was once a garbage dump, the Berlin spy tunnel ran from a U.S. military radar station to Schönefelder Chaussee in Altglienicke in the Soviet sector. This tunnel gave the American and British intelligence services access to the telephone cables used by the Soviet armed forces in the GDR for their internal communications. In its 11 months of operation before its cover was blown in April 1956, around 440,000 conversations were recorded on approximately 50,000 reels of tape. The tapes were flown daily to the U.S. and England, where the information was evaluated by a staff of around 600. The construction of this 450-meter-long tunnel with its elaborate wire-tapping technology was a spectacular moment in the history of the Cold War. An original section of the spy tunnel (approx. 7 meters long) has been retrieved and is on display in the Allied Museum (AlliiertenMuseum) in Berlin-Zehlendorf. An info board along the Wall Trail tells the story of the tunnel.

Enlarge photo: Landschaftspark Altglienicke
Rudow/Altglienicke Landscape Park Image: SenStadtUm/Petra Lubrich

A dramatic escape took place not far from the former Waltersdorfer Chaussee border crossing near East Berlin’s Rheingoldstrasse on 12 February 1987. After driving a truck into the border area, Lutz Schmidt and Peter Schulze had managed to climb over the inner wall and several fences, thanks to fog and poor visibility, before GDR border guards at the outer wall (“Vorderlandmauer”) opened fire. Peter Schulze reached West Berlin, while Lutz Schmidt was shot and killed. The GDR’s state security service (the Stasi) then forced his wife to cover up the true cause of his death by saying that he had been killed in an accident.

Enlarge photo: Grenzzäune in der Umgebung Waltersdorfer Chaussee; Nähe Flughafen Schönefeld 1961
Border fences near Waltersdorfer Chaussee, 1961 Image: Landesarchiv Berlin 0308164

In this section of the former border, info markers recall several victims of the Wall: Siegfried Widera and Georg Feldhahn, near Massantebrücke; Dieter Berger, Michael Kollender, and May Sahmland, near Ernst-Ruska-Ufer; Horst Kutscher and Johannes Sprenger, near Hornkleepfad; Lutz Schmidt and Christel and Eckard Wehage, between Waltersdorfer Chaussee and Friedensstrasse.

Enlarge photo: Grenzübergang Waltersdorfer Chaussee; Kontrollpunkt 1975
Waltersdorfer Chaussee border crossing; 1975 Image: Landesarchiv Berlin

This section of the Wall Trail ends at the border crossing used by West Berliners, West German citizens, and foreign nationals since 1963 to reach Schönefeld Airport. By showing their tickets, they could get transit visas. Starting in 1980, a shuttle bus ran between the airport and the border crossing. After passport control was moved to the airport’s “transit hall” in 1985, buses carrying passengers from West Berlin were able to cross the border without waiting. The GDR government promoted this travel, since tickets had to be purchased with western currency – making it a source of foreign currency for the SED regime.

  • About the route: South of the Teltowkanal, the Berlin Wall Trail runs along the A113 and through the Rudow/Altglienicke Landscape Park.

Sights along the route

Hufeisensiedlung (“horseshoe estate”)

Link to: Hufeisensiedlung (“horseshoe estate”)
Image: Berlin Partner GmbH/FTB-Werbefotografie

With their “horseshoe estate” (Hufeisensiedlung; 1925–1927), architects Bruno Taut and Martin Wagner were aiming to create a prototypical modern large estate.More information