The innovative multimedia museum is unique in its type and subject matter. It spans an audiovisual arc from the division of Germany and the construction of the Berlin Wall to the historical events that led to the fall of the Wall. In 13 themed rooms, the years from 1945, the beginning of the Cold War, through the construction of the Wall and the confrontation between two global superpowers, up to the fall of the Wall, are brought to life with many original recordings.
The newly opened THE WALL MUSEUM AT EAST SIDE GALLERY is located at the southern end of the famous East Side Gallery in a former warehouse building, the Mühlenspeicher, next to the Oberbaumbrücke off the Spree river.
Using more than one hundred screens, projectors and interactive displays, the exhibit guides visitors from the end of WW II to the division of Germany and Ulbricht’s (then East Germany’s leader) famous quip „nobody has the intention to build a Wall“ straight into the brutal realities of the Wall and its construction, with concrete mixers, barbed wires and the first, original Wall elements. The exhibit uses film interviews with victims, who had to leave their apartments with just a few hours’ notice, as well as testimonies by border patrol guards, who dislodged people and were shooting at those trying to cross the Wall.
It recounts how people tried to cross it and were shot; it explains the sophisticated “death zone” along the Wall and presents the different perspectives from both East and West by using authentic news reels from the 1960s.
Visitors learn about the political background and decisive moments leading to the fall of the Wall and German re-unification; among these are the free departure of the East German refugees in the West German embassy in Prague on September 30 1989 as well as the ensuing and decisive “Monday demonstration” in Leipzig on October 9 1989.
The exhibit also honors the victims, who were killed at the Wall between August 13th 1961 and November 9th 1989; among the stories told on a balcony overlooking the river Spree are the fates of the children who drowned in the river off today’s East Side Gallery, then a part of the Iron Curtain.
Last but not least, the museum also features artist involvement with the wall, from Keith Haring and Roger Waters’ “The Wall” to “The Wind of Change” by the Scorpions and Leonardo DiCaprio as a teenager trying to push down the wall in 1988 in a humorous photo snapshot by his German grandmother.
Between 1945 and 1961, around 3.6 million people left the Soviet zone of Germany and East Berlin, causing increasing difficulties for the leadership of the East German communist regime. Half of this steady stream of refugees went via West Berlin. About half a million people crossed the sector borders each day in both directions, enabling them to compare living conditions on both sides.
In 1960 alone, around 360,000 people made a permanent move to the West. The GDR was on the brink of social and economic collapse.
On 13 August 1961, the Berlin Wall was erected by the ruling powers in East Berlin and Moscow, thereby closing the last gap in the Iron Curtain that divided all of Europe. The communist regime had failed and was no longer able or willing to watch its citizens continue to “vote with their feet.” Families and friends were torn apart, and lives and hopes were destroyed.
Over the years, well over 100,000 citizens of the GDR tried to escape across the inner-German border or the Berlin Wall and displayed great ingenuity in their attempts to surmount the Wall, sometimes tunneling under it or even flying over it. Several hundred paid with their lives for their desire to be free were shot and killed by GDR border guards or died in other ways during their escape attempt.
In the course of the Cold War, both Great Powers, the USA and the USSR, were more and more enmeshed in an armament race, which made Europe a powder keg. But above all, this armament race cost a great deal. The expenditures on defense had increased to the very limit of what was possible, especially in the Eastern Bloc.
At the Gdansk shipyard in Poland workers went on strike led by Lech Walesa. Pope John Paul II-mediated. In Moscow, the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was weakening the policy. Tough negotiations on disarmament had produced visible results. US President Ronald Reagan urged Gorbachev at the Brandenburg Gate to tear down the Wall. Hungary opened its borders and allowed East Germans to pass unhindered. Thousands of others occupied the German Embassy in Prague and forced their departure.
Symptoms of a breakdown in the communist power structure – not least through the engagement of the United States of America and, above all, through the courageous, peaceful actions of dissident civil rights groups – gave Berliners and Germans a second chance. On 9 November 1989, Berliners from east and west fell into each other’s arms, sobbing with joy. Thousands celebrated the fall of the Wall at the crossing points and on top of the Wall itself. Pictures of this night went around the world.
Just under a year later, on 3 October 1990, German unity became a reality also under international law. The desire for freedom and self-determination had won out. Berlin – for decades the center of confrontation and of the Cold War – was now a symbol of German unification and of the future of Europe. (Text:Bundeswehr)
HOW TO REACH
PUBLIC TRANSPORT SERVICE
Subway Station S-U Warschauer Str.
Subway Station S-U Schlesisches Tor
TICKET PRICES AT THE MUSEUM
TICKET PRICES ONLINE
Children up to 7 years - free admission
The Wall Museum Berlin is open 365 days a year.
Daily from 10 AM to 7 PM (19:00).
Last admission is at 18:30.
Please feel free to take photos of our museum.