The Berlin Wall: 5 Facts You Must Remember About Germany’s Legendary Divider

Tuesday, July 28, 2015 0 Comments

The Berlin Wall

A visit to the Berlin Wall is always a must when in Germany. Everyone in the world knows about its significance, even at least on a high level view. It’s like the Great Wall of China kind of relevance, Germany version. I grew up reading, hearing, and learning about this in school, that I always wondered what would it be like to see this in person. What significance it would make to be on this real-life Death Strip.

We had a quick trip to the East Side Gallery, and I was a bit surprised that I couldn’t see any kind of outdated, solemn, historical significance to be seen anywhere. Apart from my knowledge of the Collapse, or the movies, quotes, and memorials about this place, I could only see arts and activities around the Berlin Wall. It’s pure graffiti history – it’s a surprising take compared to most of the historical landmarks you can find around the world. The place lets its arts speak for itself.

I’ll let you enjoy and appreciate the wall and the art – worth seeing in person, but while I’m at it, I’ll help sharing some five random facts worth knowing on the top of your head when you see the Berlin Wall.

1.) Let’s talk facts and figures: At the time of July 31, 1989, total border length around West Berlin: 96 mi / 155 km. Border between East and West Berlin: 27 mi / 43.1 km. Border through residential areas in Berlin: 23 mi / 37 km. Concrete segment wall: 3.6m (11.81 ft.) high, 66 mi / 106 km. Number of watch towers: 302. Number of bunkers: 20. Persons killed on the Berlin Wall: 192. Persons injured by shooting: ca. 200.

2.) Like any major city in Europe, the Berlin Wall was just the physical barrier above the ground. It also has this complex spider web of a subway system below. As soon as the Berlin Wall was erected, trains could only operate on the side in which they were based; some trains either ran purely on the west side or the east side. Consequently, there were “Ghost Stations” (Geisterbahnhöfe), dimly lit and heavily-guarded stations that the trains were unable to stop at. The exits to West Berlin were open and allowed people to pass through it freely; East Berlin exits were locked. When the Ghost Stations were reopened after the fall of the Berlin Wall, what’s interesting is that they found signage and advertisements on the walls from 1961 still the same.

3.) Maybe cringe-worthy for some, amusing for the others, but fact is: David Hassellhoff, is (was) huge in Germany. The Hoff performed his hit "Looking For Freedom" while standing on the Berlin Wall in 1989.

4.) After the fall of Berlin Wall, parts of it are on display or in private safekeeping all over the world. One section of the Wall is in a men's room of the Main Street Casino in Las Vegas, another section is in the gardens of the Vatican. Or easiest way, though not entirely sure if it’s totally legit – you can but a piece of the Berlin wall for sale, in souvenir shops across Berlin. Or you can just go there and pick up some dirt or something else?

5.) It was a mistake that helped lead to the fall of the Berlin Wall. It is known that the ultimate collapse came after East German Politburo member Guenther Schabowski mistakenly announced that East Germans would be allowed to cross into West Germany effective immediately.

[GERMANY TRAVEL] Read the rest of Explore Germany Travel Blog Series:

Bowdy is an amateur adventurer, a coffee sleepyhead, and a start-up rooter, with a penchant for classic-looking photos. At last count, he has visited some 52 countries, and is now living in Singapore. He's always in search of fascinating routines to exploit, within the limits of after-office hours and vacation leaves.

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