The Berlin Wall Memorial was built between 2008 and 2014 on Bernauer Strasse in the Berlin district of Mitte as a central site commemorating those who fell victim to the Berlin Wall.
The Berlin Wall Memorial, the central site of commemoration of the victims of the Berlin Wall, was built on Bernauer Strasse in the Berlin district of Mitte between 2008 and 2014. The 1.4 km-long, 4.4-hectare wide border strip was remodelled based on a design by the Berlin firms of sinai, ON architektur and Mola+Winkelmüller Architekten to create a new kind of commemorative landscape that was completed in November 2014. Its central element is the “Window of Remembrance” at the former Sophien parish cemetery – a worthy site for commemorating those who died trying to cross the Berlin Wall. It was completed in 2010.
In 1998 this central memorial site of the Federal Republic of Germany and of Berlin was created in Bernauer Strasse in “memory of the division of the city from the 13th of August 1961 to the 9th of November 1989 and in commemoration of the victims of communist tyranny”, according to the official dedication. The Berlin Wall Documentation Center and Chapel of Reconciliation were subsequently added to the Memorial. Numbers of visitors to these three institutions have increased steadily in recent years due to the growing interest of the public and tourists in the Berlin Wall.
In 2006 the Berlin Senate Chancellery adopted the "Gesamtkonzept zur Erinnerung an die Berliner Mauer" (Overall plan for commemoration at the Berlin Wall) to upgrade the quality and expand the space of the former border strip along Bernauer Strasse, part of the Berlin Wall Memorial, starting in 2008. Construction of a visitors’ centre, open spaces and an open-air exhibition along the section between Gartenstrasse and Ackerstrasse and the reconstruction of a watchtower on its original site on Ackerstrasse were among the measures carried out. Grün Berlin took over the project management in 2011 and maintains its open spaces for the Berlin Wall Foundation, which operates the Memorial.
The Memorial site is a station on the city section of the Berlin Wall Trail near the Mauerpark and extends along both sides of Bernauer Strasse. Along the section of the border strip that was once in East Berlin is an open air exhibition explaining the history of Berlin’s division, based on the Bernauer Strasse site as an example. Other elements of the complex are the monument commemorating the divided city and the victims of communist tyranny and the “Window of Remembrance”. Also part of the complex are the Chapel of Reconciliation and the excavated foundations of a house that once stood on the site, the facade of which formed part of the Wall until the early 1980s.
The design concept for the Memorial developed by the Berlin planning firm sinai makes use of original border relics that have been conserved in keeping with historic monuments preservation practice and reveals vanished traces of it with Corten steel rods, which follow the course of the Wall. Escape tunnels and the houses that were along the Wall and demolished are also highlighted and archaeological windows reveal older layers of the border strip and the remains of houses and streets. The reddish steel rods tracing the course of the Wall are striking. Depending on your angle of observation they can look sometimes penetrable, sometimes closed. Visitors can obtain information from QR codes at various points on the site. On the opposite side of the street, formerly in the western sector, is the visitors’ centre, designed by Mola+Winkelmüller Architekten (completed in 2009), and documentation centre and lookout tower, which opened in 2014. The nearby Nordbahnhof S-Bahn railway station houses the "Border stations and ghost stations in divided Berlin" exhibition, which documents the impact of the building of the Berlin Wall on the city’s transport network.