Germany commemorates deaths at Berlin Wall

14th August 2006, Comments 0 comments

14 August 2006, BERLIN - Germany commemorated Sunday the moment 45 years ago when communist border guards threw up a barbed wire fence that was to evolve into the Berlin Wall and prevent millions of East Germans from leaving for the western part of Germany. German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and the mayor of Berlin, Klaus Wowereit, laid wreaths at the main Wall memorial after an ecumenical religious service in the Chapel of Reconciliation at the site. According to the Centre for Contemporary Histo

14 August 2006

BERLIN - Germany commemorated Sunday the moment 45 years ago when communist border guards threw up a barbed wire fence that was to evolve into the Berlin Wall and prevent millions of East Germans from leaving for the western part of Germany.

German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and the mayor of Berlin, Klaus Wowereit, laid wreaths at the main Wall memorial after an ecumenical religious service in the Chapel of Reconciliation at the site.

According to the Centre for Contemporary Historical Research in Potsdam, 125 people were killed at the Wall from 13 August 1961 until the Wall fell in late 1989.

The chapel has been built on the same spot as a church that was demolished to create a free-fire zone for East German guards at the Wall. The initial fence was quickly fortified by the East Germans into a prison-style concrete barrier with watchtowers and tripwires.

Throughout the 28 years it existed, the West protested at the Wall and acclaimed as heroes the few people who managed to cross it - or in some cases early on, to escape in tunnels beneath it.

Ronald Pofalla, who is general secretary of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), said the Wall had kept many German families apart, but its story showed that freedom was ultimately stronger than repression.

A German historian whose work includes research on the Berlin Wall earlier called for a bigger memorial to the Wall than the current monument in the Bernauer Strasse, three kilometres north-east of the heart of the city.

The footpath and roadway of Bernauer Strasse were in West Berlin, but buildings on one side were in East Berlin, making it an ideal place to cross covertly in the first few months of the barrier in 1961.

Jochen Staadt of the Free University of Berlin said a more centrally located monument was required.

Staadt, who is one of a team of 12 academics jointly researching Communist East Germany at the university, said, "We need a place where we can commemorate the victims of the wall."

History had to be kept visible and be experienced "emotionally," he said.

The Wall has vanished, but a few sections of it have been re- erected around the city as monuments.

While the Wall was the best-known part of the Iron Curtain that divided Europe between communism in the east and democratic rule in the west, a communist-built fortified border of more than a thousand kilometres also ran north-south through the whole of Germany.

Alexandra Hildebrandt, who heads a private museum devoted to the Wall, estimates that 1,201 persons were killed by communist border forces between 1945 and 1989, though some academics challenge this figure.

Officials also gathered Sunday at Marienborn in northern Germany to remember the rural barrier. A memorial was erected 10 years ago at Marienborn, site of a border crossing between former East Germany and West Germany. The two parts of Germany were re-united in 1990.

DPA

Subject: German news

Click here for more German news

0 Comments To This Article