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Old November 14th, 2007, 08:33 AM   #1
hkskyline
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Saving the Berlin Wall

18 years on, Berlin tries to save crumbling remains of Wall

BERLIN, Nov 8, 2007 (AFP) - Eighteen years after the Berlin Wall fell on November 9, 1989, Germans are battling to preserve the last remnants of a barrier that still haunts the country.

"At first, everybody was overjoyed that the Wall fell. Then a lot of people became irritated that it could disappear without trace," said Johannes Cramer, an expert in the history of architecture at Berlin's Technical University.

Of the 155 kilometres (96 miles) of grey concrete that surrounded West Berlin for 28 years, only three kilometres in total is still standing.

Just five empty watchtowers look out over the city, compared to 302 manned by guards with their finger on the trigger in 1989.

"It is too late to change the fact that things disappeared in the years that followed the fall of the Wall," said Stefan Jacobs, a journalist at the daily newspaper Der Tagesspiegel.

"But we absolutely have to preserve what is still standing to be able to tell the history of Berlin."

This is not as simple as it sounds, as the uncertain fate of Berlin's famed "East Side Gallery" shows.

The Gallery, a 1.3-kilometre-long reinforcement that was built directly behind the Wall, is covered with paintings by 118 artists from around the world that document the tumultuous emotions that marked the end of Germany's division.

One of the most famous works captures Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and the long-time leader of East Germany's communist regime Eric Honecker sharing a passionate kiss.

But the concrete slabs running along the Spree river, which are a national monument and a tourist magnet, are crumbling under the onslaught of the weather, pollution, graffiti artists and plain neglect.

It was partly restored in 2000, but the damage is now so far advanced that the section of the wall will have to be rebuilt from scratch.

Most of the artists whose paintings grace the wall have agreed to help, but the project has been postponed until 2008 for lack of funding.

The city's authorities have earmarked 1.3 million euros (1.8 million dollars) but the project will cost another two million euros.

Some commentators put this down to a lamentable lack of will to save the remains of the Wall, while funding pours in for a project to rebuild the city's Hohenzollern Castle, the one-time residence of Prussian kings and German kaisers that was blown up by the communists in 1950.

So far some 480 million euros have been raised to build a replica of the 17th century baroque castle in the heart of Berlin.

"If one can collect hundreds of millions of euros to rebuild a palace which nobody remembers, one can find a few million to save paintings that people around the world know well and come to Berlin to see," Jacobs said.

A few kilometres from the East Side Gallery, near the Nordbahnhof station, a section of the wall has been torn down to make space for a volleyball court.

"This is how it goes with the Berlin Wall. Even those sections that have been declared national monuments, are not respected," Jacobs said.

At Bornholmer Strasse, the site of the border crossing where the first crack opened in the Wall on that cold November night in 1989, a small section of the interior wall has been left standing.

But visitors have to look long and hard to locate a memorial plaque indicating that it was here that East Berliners were allowed to cross to the West for the first time since 1961.

The point has been made by numerous commentators that visitors do not come to Berlin in their millions to see castles, be they real or replicas, but because they remain fascinated by the recent past of the city and the Wall.

"Are we in the East or in the West?" goes the eternal question asked by tourists.

And nearly 20 years after the fall of the Wall, they continue to take home small chunks of concrete certified to have been a piece of the Cold War icon for 100 euros.
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Old January 1st, 2008, 07:58 AM   #2
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Old April 30th, 2008, 03:05 AM   #3
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Guide helps tourists track down remains of Berlin Wall
By KIRSTEN GRIESHABER, Associated Press Writer
Fri Apr 25, 3:30 PM ET

It can be hard to find what remains of the Berlin Wall, a divisive landmark that for 28 years split the German capital and an entire generation.

But history buffs wanting to see the last vestiges of the iconic symbol of east versus west no longer have to consult old maps or seek out guidebooks. A new multimedia guide offers individualized walking tours connecting the key points where the 103-mile-long wall once stood.

The hand-sized minicomputer, commissioned by the city government and to be introduced May 1, is linked to global positioning satellites mapping the wall's former path.

Boasting a headset and a touch-screen, it features a colorful map of the city that can zoom in and out, showing the users where they are. The route of the former barrier between East and West Germany is marked in red while a yellow line guides the visitor from one wall section to the next, calculating the distances via GPS in meters.

"With the help of this guide, we finally have an answer to the most often asked question: Where was the wall?" Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit told reporters as he introduced the new gadget this week.

Most of the wall was torn down after Communist East Germany collapsed and the border was opened in 1989.

A city project to mark the wall's path through Berlin is scheduled for completion by 2011, the 50th anniversary of the wall's construction.

Apart from guiding tourists from one wall memorial to the next — among them the Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie and the mural-covered East Side Gallery — the digital assistant gives information about 22 historically significant spots along the wall's route.

Audio files and video documentaries give an overview of the wall's dramatic Cold War history, starting on Aug. 13, 1961, when East Germany began building the barrier to wall off the capitalist enclave of West Berlin in a bid to stop a westward exodus from the communist state.

At a memorial for the people killed while trying to escape across the barrier, users can click an icon that lets them see and hear Juergen Litfin talk about the death of his brother Guenter — shot by border guards Aug. 24, 1961 and said to be the first of at least 125 people killed trying to make the perilous crossing.

Passing through the Brandenburg Gate, users can listen to and watch U.S. President Ronald Reagan peering over the wall as he made his famous 1987 speech challenging then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall!"

Starting on May 1, the wall guides can be rented at five booths throughout the city. They cost between $9.50 and $24 depending on how long visitors want to keep them.

The "Walk the Wall" guide comes in German and English, but manufacturer Antenna Audio is planning to offer it in other languages as well.

It took a team of historians and computer experts one year and $797,000 to develop the current software, said Rosemarie Wirthmueller, Antenna Audio's managing director for Europe, but there now are no concrete plans to use similar GPS-connected devices in other cities.

___

On the Net:

http://www.mauerguide.com

http://www.antennaudio.com
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Old May 27th, 2008, 02:41 PM   #4
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Source : http://www.pbase.com/pompeygreg/berlin_2007&page=2







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Old June 7th, 2008, 03:10 AM   #5
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I dont agree with the idea of maintain the remainig walls. They should be tear down. What they can do is only to mark in the streets as a reference the place were the walls use to be.
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Old June 8th, 2008, 12:34 AM   #6
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I agree, As a German-American, the last thing I want to be reminded of is the division of my family's homeland and the almost four decades of crap that followed the builting of the wall in 1961. Haven't the German people suffered enough?!?! Its bad enough in the minds of some people Germany will always equal Nazi's. Why add this to the list. Tear it down and dump the remains in the sea!

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Old June 8th, 2008, 11:36 PM   #7
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As someone who still saw the Wall when it stood... seriously, it's a shame how they're treating her. Especially those rather pitiful small pieces in those pictures.

They should at the very least keep up that 100m stretch that's still standing (as a museum currently). Preferably more.
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Old June 9th, 2008, 10:16 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chadoh25 View Post
I agree, As a German-American, the last thing I want to be reminded of is the division of my family's homeland and the almost four decades of crap that followed the builting of the wall in 62. Haven't the German people suffered enough?!?! Its bad enough in the minds of some people Germany will always equal Nazi's. Why add this to the list. Tear it down and dump the remains in the sea!
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Old June 10th, 2008, 01:43 AM   #9
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Ummm Okay then..... thats retarded

Last edited by Chadoh25; June 10th, 2008 at 01:55 AM.
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Old June 10th, 2008, 07:01 AM   #10
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History is not to be forgotten. Plus the fact that those parts of the wall mean what they mean adds an extra dimension to their artistic side. I think tearing the remains down would be barbaric.

No offence intended, but I really found your dramatic tone to be sort of hilarious. (I'm sorry if that offends you, I wouldn't like to!)
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Old June 10th, 2008, 07:13 AM   #11
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It's really, really, REALLY, ugly but whatever.
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Old June 10th, 2008, 08:29 AM   #12
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No worries. I tend to be passionate about this subject. Your right, history should not be forgotten. However, I think we can remember history without having the wall. The wall is a painful reminder of one of the less then glorious parts of our History and Lord knows we have plenty of monuments and memorials that do that already. What would be best would be to replace the wall with something positive, something that is needed and something that Germans can be proud of. Why must we suffer "Monuments" that do nothing other than cost the tax payers and contribute to a feeling of guilt and shame!
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Old June 10th, 2008, 09:03 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chadoh25 View Post
No worries. I tend to be passionate about this subject. Your right, history should not be forgotten. However, I think we can remember history without having the wall. The wall is a painful reminder of one of the less then glorious parts of our History and Lord knows we have plenty of monuments and memorials that do that already. What would be best would be to replace the wall with something positive, something that is needed and something that Germans can be proud of. Why must we suffer "Monuments" that do nothing other than cost the tax payers and contribute to a feeling of guilt and shame!
That's OK. I guess it's not up to me to decide whether you Germans feel guilt and shame about this.
:ok:
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Old June 10th, 2008, 10:11 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by hkskyline View Post


"The first gap in the Berlin Wall was at this place in 1989"

(Written on the top of the wall piece)

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Old June 10th, 2008, 10:22 PM   #15
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for history's sake parts of the wall needs to be preserved
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Old June 12th, 2008, 03:14 PM   #16
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Hacked off a bit myself back in 1996, just near where Hitler's bunker used to be located.

I'll mail it back to you if you want. I've heard that the Easterners don't like the Westerners so maybe you can rebuild the wall piece by piece.

I asked some people nearby if they would mind and they told me to help myself. They wanted to forget it was ever there.

Don't you think this 'nostalgia' is a bit much. Communism was nightmare.
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Old June 21st, 2008, 03:50 PM   #17
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We should preserve and learn from the goods and bads of our history.
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Old June 23rd, 2008, 01:26 PM   #18
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German politician wants Cold War museum at Checkpoint Charlie
20 June 2008

BERLIN (AP) - A politician who served as East Germany's last foreign minister is proposing building a comprehensive Cold War museum at one of the most famous flash points of the decades-long East-West standoff -- Berlin's Checkpoint Charlie.

"We need a museum to explain the Cold War's significance," Markus Meckel, a lawmaker with the governing Social Democrats, told The Associated Press. "And nowhere was more significant in that conflict than Checkpoint Charlie."

Meckel -- a pastor and opposition activist under communist rule -- served as foreign minister in East Germany's first and only freely elected government, which helped pave the way for German reunification in its few months in office in 1990.

Earlier this week, former Czech President Vaclav Havel and John Kornblum, a former U.S. ambassador to Germany, backed Meckel's idea in a letter to the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.

Kornblum told the AP that the team is looking for funding. It also is urging Berlin city officials to include the museum in development plans for two vacant lots on what was once the eastern side of Checkpoint Charlie, divided Berlin's most famous border crossing.

"Berlin was ground zero for the Cold War," Kornblum said by telephone from New York. "It's a cornerstone of this whole great history of a continent nearly destroying itself and then putting itself back together. For generations to come people will want to understand that."

A city spokesman for cultural issues, Torsten Woehlert, said previous plans for the site included museum space, but the property has since changed ownership.

"We are negotiating for new developers to also include space for a museum or memorial that recognizes the international significance of the wall," Woehlert said.

A panel of academics is drawing up a concept for that, Woehlert said Friday, and it will consider Meckel's proposal for a Cold War museum.

But the owner of an existing museum at the checkpoint -- where U.S. and Soviet tanks dramatically faced off after East Germany sealed its border by building the Berlin Wall in 1961 -- adamantly opposes the project.

"This is a place of freedom, a place to remember victims," said Alexandra Hildebrandt, whose husband opened the Wall Museum at Checkpoint Charlie in 1962. "Its connection to the Cold War is not nearly as relevant."

The former border crossing, in the heart of downtown Berlin, has become a must-see for tourists. After having pictures snapped with people dressed as American and Russian soldiers, many of them pay the euro12.50 (US$19.30) admission charge to walk through two floors filled with Cold War-era documents and memorabilia in Hildebrandt's museum.

The vacant lots where Meckel is proposing the museum are currently fenced off by tall wooden walls covered with an illustrated timeline of events in Cold War Berlin.

Meckel believes it would be better to replace that temporary exhibit with a museum that connects the checkpoint's history to the conflict's global impact.

"It wasn't just a division of Germany, it was a division of Europe and the world," Meckel said. "Our basic concept is for a museum not just devoted to the meaning of the wall, but the meaning the Cold War had everywhere."
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Old June 26th, 2008, 12:28 AM   #19
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Why should we preserve the Berlin Wall. It was a barrier that split a great city in two. Was the Berlin Wall a terrible thing?
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Old July 2nd, 2008, 01:11 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim856796 View Post
Why should we preserve the Berlin Wall. It was a barrier that split a great city in two. Was the Berlin Wall a terrible thing?

The Berlin Wall was an important part of german history. You can't wipe out this
era by demolishing the last remains of the wall.
We need them as a memorial.
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