More than two decades after the wall that divided East from West Berlin suddenly fell in 1989, walking the Berlin Wall and its remains are a haunting reminder of an era that is as frightening as it is unbelievable. There are museums and memorials everywhere you turn in a now vibrant yet still rebuilding city. And, being a major tourist draw to Berlin, they are also relatively thronged with sightseers. But you have to put all that aside (especially those who are adverse to crowds or alleged tourist sights) and you have to go see it. All of it. And more. Then go back. Again. You literally can’t soak it all in at once or on one day.
The Gedenkstaette Mauer on Bernauerstrasse (U-Bahn train to Bernauerstrasse Station or the S-Bahn to Nordbahnhof Station) shows the development of a section of wall that literally sliced a neighborhood savagely in two, separating families, lovers and church parishes. You can walk a superbly done memorial to the wall that extends for blocks, reading about the history, gaping in awe at the remaining watchtower and sections of the wall, the cemetery that was dug up, the church that was torn down, the path of underground escape tunnels … all in an attempt to keep the then-East Berliners from trying to flee or even thinking about what was on the other side of the wall.