Bernauer Straße is the only place in Berlin where visitors can still see a section of the border fortifications with all the various installations and barriers: the Hinterland and border walls (inner and outer walls), “no man’s land,” sentry path, and floodlights. This property was originally part of the cemetery of the Church of St. Sophia, but when the Wall was built in 1961 the graves near the border were relocated. A 212-meter-long section of the border strip between Ackerstraße and Bergstraße was given protected status on 2 October 1990 in recognition of its historical significance.
As a response to the especially vehement protests against preserving this section of the Wall and because the German Historical Museum wanted to set up an educational historical facility here, an artistic and landscape architectural competition for a Wall memorial was held in 1994. The winning design submitted by the Stuttgart architects Kohlhoff & Kohlhoff used two six-meter-high steel walls to bracket off 64 meters of the protected border installation for the memorial. The outside surfaces of the steel walls are corroded, inspiring memories of the “Iron Curtain” metaphor, while the inside walls are made of polished stainless steel. This section of the border strip is thus reflected into infinity in the steel surface as a symbolic representation of the former extent of the border fortifications.
Souvenir-seekers had chipped off the concrete of the border wall (the “Grenzmauer 75” version) on Bernauer Straße down to its steel supports. In contrast to the Wall segment on Niederkirchnerstraße, however, where the damage was preserved as the most recent phase in the Wall’s evolution, the concrete sections around the Bernauer Straße memorial were restored to their original condition.
South of the memorial, on the grounds of the cemetery Sophienfriedhof, is a fairly long section of the slab wall that was part of the “perimeter defenses”; it was listed as a historical monument in 2001. Areas not offering a clear view of the land anterior to the actual border strip were secured by barriers of various kinds, intended to slow down would-be fugitives. Along with slab walls, these included fences, lighting equipment, barred windows, and vehicle barriers in the form of flower containers.