Possibly the most famous wall in the world, aside from the Great Wall of China, seeing the Berlin Wall is typically #1 on any “must-see list” of anyone visiting Berlin, Germany. It exists due to Berlin finding itself caught in the middle when Germany was split after WWII, with the eastern half belonging to the Soviets and the western half to the Allies/Germany. The wall was erected by the Soviets in 1961, where it remained a constant reminder of this split for the next 28 years. The Berlin Wall finally fell on the evening of November 9th, 1989. To this day, the wall remains a physical reminder of Cold War-era Soviet communism, but also, a remembrance of the German perseverance against it. Multiple sections of the wall still stand today, for over 60 years, with some even on other continents (like the section at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California – “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!“).
There are several places to view the remnants of the once imposing structure, including the East Side Gallery (the longest, still-existing section); Bösebrücke (a border crossing area); the infamous Checkpoint Charlie; and the Topography of Terror – the location we chose.
The Topography of Terror is a memorial and museum dedicated to showcasing the horrors of the Nazis, located at Niederkirchnerstraße 8. It’s built next to a long section of the wall, where the border of Berlin-Mitte (East Germany) and Kreuzberg (West Germany) ran for about 656 feet (200 m). The site was built upon the same ground where the SS Reich Security Main Office used to stand. It was the headquarters of the Sicherheitspolizei (security agency), SD (intelligence agency), Einsatzgruppen (the infamous death squads), and Gestapo (Nazi secret police). The wall is free to view and touch, with information boards placed throughout. We visited mid-morning, in mid-June, and the crowd was very light.
The open-air museum is open daily from 10am to 8pm. It’s also free to visit and is built into the trench that is next to the excavated segments of a cellar wall. There are three permanent exhibits accessible to the public, with all three presented in both German and English. These are the “Topography of Terror” permanent exhibit, which focuses on the institutions and crimes of the SS and the “Third Reich”; Berlin 1933–1945 Between Propaganda and Terror, which focuses on the capital Berlin during the “Third Reich”; and Topography of Terror Site Tour: The History of the Site, which is the section outside, alongside the Berlin Wall.
Overall, no visit to Berlin could possibly be complete without a visit to the infamous and notorious Berlin Wall. In fact, if you didn’t visit the Berlin Wall, did you even truly visit Berlin? While there are numerous places to see the wall, I believe the Topography of Terror location is a good one. Not only will you get to see a large, preserved section of the wall, there is also the museum aspect. Regardless of which section you choose, it’s important to visit these infamous locations in order to continually honor and remember those who were affected by them. ❤️