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 Berlin Wall Makes a Come Back

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Sagittarius Snake
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PostSubject: Berlin Wall Makes a Come Back   Wed Aug 10, 2011 4:39 am

Berlin wall article

The Berlin Wall is making a comeback. A half century after it was built and two decades after its demise, a few bits of the Wall that once split Berlin into East and West are being reinstated for posterity to the delight of tourists seeking a glimpse of the city's Cold War history.

Almost all of the 160 km (100 miles) of Berlin Wall that encircled West Berlin in the heart of Communist East Germany was hastily torn down or chiseled away in the euphoria after it was breached in 1989.

There were only a few withered remnants of the wall left by the time the two Germanys reunited less than a year later on October 3, 1990. Only three of the 302 ominous East German guard towers still stood.

"There's a general complaint that the demolition of the Wall was a bit too extensive," said Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit.

"That's understandable from today's point of view and it would have probably been better for tourists if more of it could have been preserved," he told Reuters. "But at that time we were all just so happy to see the Wall gone."

There was indeed a powerful rush to obliterate all traces of the 3.6-meter-high concrete and barbed wire barrier, building of which started on August 13, 1961.

"Mauerspecht" (wall-peckers) armed with hammers and chisels got souvenir chips and bulldozers did the rest, turning it into gravel and developing the prime real estate.

Many of the Wall slabs were sold, raising some 2 million deutsche marks for the government (about $1 million at the time). Some 300 East German border guards and 600 West German soldiers worked together to tear the rest down, converting it into 300,000 tons of concrete mass.

But now, as growing numbers of tourists come to Berlin each year searching largely in vain for traces of the Wall, the city has re-erected and restored parts while monument preservation experts are working to conserve other vestigial segments.


"At first no one gave a second thought to the idea of preserving any of the Wall for future generations," said Jochen Staadt, political scientist at Berlin's Free University.

"But there was always interest from foreigners who came and say 'Where's the Wall?'," added Staadt, a specialist on East Germany and the Wall. "It took about a decade until the late 1990s before people in Berlin, especially those under 30, started taking an interest in what the Wall was actually like."

New buildings have gone up on many parts of the former "death strip" that separated East and West, and it is sometimes hard to tell where the barrier once stood.

In the last few years a piece of the Wall complex running six city blocks, or some 800 meters, has been rebuilt and restored on Bernauer Strasse, scene of some of the most dramatic escapes after the wall was built.

People jumped from upper storey windows in buildings on the east side of the Wall onto the street on the west side. The windows were soon sealed off with bricks and the buildings later demolished.

In the early 1990s, the area around Bernauer Strasse was a veritable wasteland, with locals complaining about needles from drug addicts left hind in the weeds in the undeveloped land.

Part of the rebuilt section is made up authentic Wall slabs, some purchased for 1,000 euros ($1,400) each from a private collector, and some of it is made of 3.6-meter-high rusting iron rods that symbolize where the Wall stood but have gaps that allow visitors to see through it.

Another four city blocks, or about 500 meters, of concrete Wall slabs and iron rods will be added next year.

Berlin, with help from the federal government and European Union, is spending some 28 million euros on the construction.

While it is an eerie reminder of where the Wall was, the memorial on Bernauer Strasse is a far cry from the original. Instead of the death-like silence around it, it is alive with myriad tourists buzzing in and around it.

"In early 1989, (East German leader) Erich Honecker said the Wall would still be standing in 100 years and to a certain degree we're doing what we can to make that happen," Alexander Klausmeier, director of the Berlin Wall Foundation that is overseeing the project, said with a smile.

"It's all a bit crazy."


There are a few other pieces of Berlin Wall remnants elsewhere: a 1.3-km-long section known as the East Side Gallery that is covered with 105 giant paintings from artists around the world and an 80-meter section behind the Finance Ministry.

A few individual graffiti-covered slabs were put up in Berlin, such as at Potsdamer Platz square, in the last decade. The city also embedded a cobblestone line into streets marking some spots where the Wall stood.

A biking trail follows the wall's route as well.

The rebuilding is not welcomed by all. Some local conservative leaders fear the wall could become a "Disneyland-like" attraction.

"People in Berlin already know where the Wall was and the memory is painful enough," said Staadt, the political scientist. "It's a tricky situation and quite a few people rightly worry any Wall reconstruction could turn into some kind of 'Disneyland'. No one wants that."

Wowereit said that will not happen.

"It was the right thing to do at the time, tearing the whole thing down," he said.

"But step-by-step we will keep expanding this Wall memorial actively. We've seen that a lot of people come to Berlin because of the history and we'll continue to cultivate that, not only for tourists but also as a reminder for future generations."

I personally don't like this idea. I'm fine with some of it being in a museum. I'm fine with preserving what is left so no one else can take what is there. But rebuilding some of it? That's like saying you want to rebuild concentration camps and possibly make it working with laughing gas instead of poisen. It just isn't a good idea. What is left for a museaum is fine, but there are a lot of people with horrible memories of what happened. It's like being punched in the face with the memory constantly.
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PostSubject: Re: Berlin Wall Makes a Come Back   Wed Aug 10, 2011 11:06 am

....There were parts of die Mauer left standing and known to almost all Berliners and tourist guides. Not to mention the cobble line that goes through many streets to show where it was. The rebuilding is a bit much.

I wonder which side is more for and more against the rebuilding... It's not as big of a thing now, but there is still a bit of animosity between East and West Germany due to the reunification. It mainly boiled down to East Germany seeing just how much their side was in shambles compared to their neighbors and West Germany having to foot most the bill to help make it better (East Germans will sometimes say they see West Germans as unfriendly and West Germans will sometimes say that they view East Germans as lazy). I really wouldn't want this rebuilding of die Mauer to strengthen those feelings of animosity.

Oh, and DCGG, many concentration camps were never torn down and are already tourist attractions. Most the tours are dead silent and there is usually a camp survivor there to tell the tourists their story. I really doubt they would turn into "disney-like" attractions ever. Especially Auschwitz.
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Sagittarius Snake
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PostSubject: Re: Berlin Wall Makes a Come Back   Wed Aug 10, 2011 4:50 pm

^^I know there are still a lot that were never torn down and are used as museums. I was trying to say if one of them was torn down, you wouldn't rebuild it because their are others still up. Same thing with the wall. There are parts of the wall still up so I don't think they should rebuild any of it. And I was comparing the likeness to making a new camp with laughing gas so the people could understand what it was like to the rebuilding of a large wall to try and understand the seperation and the crap that had happened.
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