Thursday, 3 December 2009

Mauerfall part II

The weekend after the Berlin Wall 20th Anniversary, we were invited to a Bayer 'language class' day out. For those expats who are (attempting) to learn German through the language department at Bayer, the company organises infrequent trips out on the weekends to 'engage with the culture'. With the 20 years celebration of the wall just passed, a program around the Wall was offered - first stop to the Bernauerstrasse Documentation Centre. The Documentation Centre was lots of historical information and photos of the area when the wall was erected until the fall of the Berlin Wall.

We met the group at Bernauerstrasse, where a section of the wall still remains. From a viewing tower across the street, it is possible to see the wall, the 30 metres of cleared 'death strip' (with guard tower, lights etc) and the rear wall. We looked at it both from the tower, and also took a walk around to the Eastern side. It is clear why it was so difficult to cross!

This section of Bernauerstrasse is interesting because at one stage, the wall directly touched the wall, and people would leap out of the windows of the buildings on the Eastern side and be caught by crowds waiting below on the Western side. In the end, these buildings were walled up, and then destroyed.
Here is Cameron trying to climb over...not an easy thing to do!

A little further along a church was located in the death strip. For a while it stood and was used by the congregation from the East. However, the congregation members from the West could not cross and enter the church, so they set up a service in a building opposite (which is now a document and record centre on the wall). This church was also blown up, after the bells were removed. After the wall came down, a small chapel was erected on the site and opened 11 years after the wall came down. The document centre has a video which shows the view from a helecopter as it flies along the length of the wall, just after it opened. It is amazing to see how much it all has changed.
After lunch we headed to the StadtMuseum Berlin to view the FallMauerFall Exhibition. The art exhibition displayed artists views and feeling towards the fall of the Wall from both East and West Berlin artists.

We spent most of the morning with Dave, Danielle and their son Cameron. The boys entertained themselves, and Dave and Danielle were great company. We headed together to Alexanderplatz, to Delores, a Burrito Cafe they recommended, for the best burritos in Berlin (they were right!). We then walked to the Nicolaivorteil and enjoyed a tour of the art collection. One of our favourite pieces was the video of an artist, Stephen Elsners, who would knock out sections of the wall, insert clear plastic sheet segments, and then paint them. The response of the guards when they see it, and when they investigate it, is one of confusion. The sections are then replaced.

The rest of the works were mixed, some excellent pieces capturing the spirit of the wall from both sides and its impact on life for those living with the wall in their midst.

Afterwards we strolled to Unter Den Linden, then to Brandenberg Tor S Bahn. We said goodbye to Danielle, Dave and Cameron at Potsdamerplatz, after spending a relaxed and fun day with them touring some wall history. It was a great day out, and we say 'thanks' to the language department for making the effort to organise such an interesting day out.

1 comment:


Will you be there in May? I'm an American photojournalism professor and conduct an annual study-abroad class in Berlin. We look for a cross-section of "Berliners" to feature in words and pictures. Below is the link to last year's project online. BTW, I found your site while searching for Dolores Burritoes--we went there last year.