The divided city and the GDR regime

Everyday life at the time of the Wall

The tour starts from Nordbahnhof, the “ghost station”, and the nearby Berlin Wall Memorial and Documentation Centre at Bernauer Strasse. Here you can see the ruins of the Berlin Wall, the “death strip” and the Chapel of Reconciliation, and imagine the devastating effects of the division on the citizens’ everyday life.

The second stop is the East Side Gallery, an open-air art gallery on the longest still standing section of the Wall (1300 m), and international memorial for freedom. The gallery consists of 106 murals and represents a beautiful example of pacifist street art. Some of the paintings, as for instance the kiss between Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Honecker, are world famous masterpieces. The nearby Oberbaumbrücke is the city’s most beautiful bridge and at the centre of Berlin’s nightlife.

The tour continues with a visit to the former prison of the Stasi (Ministry for State Security) in the district of Hohenschönhausen and ends around the area of Checkpoint Charlie, the best-known crossing point between East and West Berlin during the Cold War. A few metres away, the Stasi Education Centre offers an interesting overview on the systems of repression and control used by East Germany secret police against the civil population. In 1991 the Stasi records were opened to the public, allowing citizens to look for their personal files. That was one of the most important measures taken by German authorities to throw some light on and turn the page from the dictatorial the past.

Suggested duration: 4 hours

The capital of the Third Reich

“World Capital Germania”

(…) The Topography of Terror is an outdoor photo exhibition, located on the site where during the Nazi regime the headquarters of the Gestapo and the SS stood. Close to the Tiergarten, the Memorial to the German Resistance is located in the Bendlerblock, the former seat of the Nazi military command and where Wehrmacht officers planned the plot of 20 July 1944 to assassinate Hitler, known as the Operation Valkyrie .

The second part of the tour will be dedicated to the history of the Berlin Jewish community, with a walk in the Scheunenviertel. Several episodes of violence, riots and deportations occurred in this district. The ruins of the Synagogue and the commemorative stumble stones (“Stolpersteine”) on the pavement testify to the once lively cultural and commercial activities of the Jewish community in this area. A beautiful story of solidarity and humanity is represented by the figure of Otto Weidt, a courageous businessman who saved many Jews of the quarter from deportation, by hiding them in his small brush shop.

On request, it is also possible to visit the Jewish Museum, one of the largest in Europe and masterpiece of the acclaimed architect Daniel Libeskind. The Museum houses a collection documenting two millennia of German Jewish history as well as temporary exhibitions.

Suggested duration: 4, 6 or 8 hours