Berlin Wall Trail - From Potsdamer Platz to Warschauer Strasse
This seven-kilometer route starts in the heart of the “new” Berlin, where the two halves of the formerly divided city have grown together. Although a number of Wall remains (among other places, on the ground floor of the Federal Ministry for the Environment on Stresemannstrasse), a temporary exhibition, Berlin Wall History Mile info boards, and a watchtower (hidden behind new buildings) used by GDR border guards recall the years of division, Potsdamer Platz is marked more by 1990s visions of a new era dawning.
An exhibition on the Stasi, the GDR’s State Security Service, can be seen at the Educational Center on the History of the Stasi (BStU) at Zimmerstrasse 90, which also has an interesting project workshop for school groups. The Checkpoint Gallery, located at the former Friedrichstrasse/Checkpoint Charlie border crossing used by foreign nationals, makes a fascinating stop along the way. Large-format photos tell the story of this border crossing, while the “Black Box” exhibition on the Cold War uses many different media stations to explore the international dimension of German and European division. The Museum Haus am Checkpoint Charlie – a private museum dedicated to the Wall – can also be found here.
Following the course of the Wall on Zimmerstrasse will then take you to the memorial for Peter Fechter. On 17 August 1962, 18-year-old Peter Fechter and a friend had attempted to escape to West Berlin. The friend made it across the Wall, while Peter Fechter was shot. He lay on the border strip bleeding to death for almost an hour before being carried away by GDR border guards. Today a stele designed by the artist Karl Biedermann recalls Fechter’s tragic death. After passing the Axel-Springer-Verlag building, you will come to the former Heinrich-Heine-Strasse border crossing, a checkpoint for goods and postal transport between East and West Berlin.
Following Sebastianstrasse and Waldemarstrasse will take you to the pond Engelbecken and the former Luisenstädtischer Kanal. “Osman’s gecekondu” near the church Thomaskirche, a summer house built illegally on a triangular piece of East Berlin that would have been too expensive to wall off, tells a story of life in West Berlin in the shadow of the border.
Crossing the bridge Schillingbrücke takes you to Holzmarktstrasse and Mühlenstrasse and the longest section of the Wall still standing in Berlin’s city center. Here the inner wall (“Hinterlandmauer” – the wall furthest from the West Berlin border) was constructed of the neutral white concrete sections used elsewhere for the outer wall (“Vorderlandmauer”), since official convoys bringing state visitors from Schönefeld Airport to East Berlin’s city center took this route. In 1990, artists from all over the world decorated this remaining 1.3-kilometer section of the Wall with striking, eye-catching paintings. The artists’ initiative East Side Gallery e.V. now offers tours of the exhibition. In 2009, this section of the Wall was completely restored for the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Wall, and 100 of the original 106 paintings were reconstructed by the artists.
- About the route: Although this city-center tour from Potsdamer Platz to Warschauer Brücke is only seven kilometers long, you should give yourself enough time to also see the route’s many memorials and other sites. The route is easy to follow here. Parallel to the former Luisenstädtischer Kanal between Engelbecken and the bridge Schillingbrücke, on Stralauer Platz, and parallel to Mühlenstrasse, the bike path now exists on both sides of the green space corridors or streets. The remains and traces of the Wall here make the southern/southwestern path the most interesting one. If you would like to end your tour early, there are many different stops along the way where you can easily switch to public transportation.