East Berlin

Shortly after midnight of August 13, 1961 construction began on a barrier that would divide Berlin for 28 years. The Berlin Wall was a desperate measure by an East German government on the verge of economic and political collapse to stem the exodus of its own people: 2.6 million of them had left for the West since 1949.
Euphemistically called ‘Anti-Fascist Protection Barrier’, this grim symbol of oppression stretched for 160 kilometres, turning West Berlin into an island of democracy within a sea of socialism. Continually reinforced and refined over time, its cold concrete slabs backed up against a ‘death zone’ of barbed wire, mines, attack dogs and watchtowers staffed by trigger-happy border guards.
More than 5000 people attempted an escape, but only about 1600 made it across; most were captured and 191 were killed. The full extent of the system’s cruelty became blatantly clear on August 17, 1962 when 18 year old Peter Fechtner was shot during his attempt to flee and was then left to bleed to death whilst the East German guards looked on.
At the end of the Cold War this potent symbol was eagerly dismantled. Memento seekers chiselled away much of it and entire sections ended up in museums around the world. Most of it, though, was unceremoniously recycled for use in road construction. Today little more than a mile of the Wall is left, but throughout Berlin segments, memorial sites, museums and signs commemorate this horrifying but important chapter in German history. Besides the places mentioned below, the Haus am Checkpoint Charlie also chronicles this period.
My 2020 Bavarian International School senior history cohort beside the wall on Bergstraße. The church shown in the period photo was the Church of Reconciliation, completed in 1894 as an imposing brick-built building by the architect Gotthilf Ludwig Möckel, in the Gothic revival style. It received minor damage during the war, and still had a deactivated American bomb found during its reconstruction in 1999, but the church survived the war.  With the Berlin's division in 1945, the church building found itself within the Soviet sector, with most of the parishioners in the neighbouring French sector resulting in the Berlin Wall, constructed in 1961, running directly in front of the church on its western side and behind it on the eastern side, preventing access to everyone except the border guards, who used its tower as an observation post. The church building was destroyed in 1985 in order ‘to increase the security, order and cleanliness on the state border with West Berlin’ according to the official justification by the East German regime. Four years later in 1989, the Wall fell.  
  My students attempting to scale the wall compared to members of the border guard testing out the latest iteration of the wall in May 1974. During its 28-year existence, the wall was modernised several times, but only in sections for cost reasons. In the beginning it consisted mainly of simple stone blocks and barbed wire, later prefabricated concrete parts were lined up. In 1988, twenty of the most modern concrete wall segments, each 1.20 metres wide, cost 19,000 East German marks, about the same as a single Trabi. 
In Bernauer Strasse, like everywhere else the wall bisected, the complete sealing off of the sector boundary from August 13, 1961 had a particularly violent impact on the everyday life of the residents. From one day to the next, they could no longer go their usual ways. Neighbours, friends and relatives were separated as the house opposite belonged to a different political system. Even without their involvement and against their will, the residents of Bernauer Strasse became eyewitnesses and actors in post-war German history in Berlin which is why walking down this stretch of road is such a powerful, instructive experience. There were desperate people who jumped out of their apartment windows into West Berlin and paid for it with their lives. But successful escapes also took place on Bernauer Strasse. Between Schwedter and Strelitzer Strasse, the walker along Bernauer Strasse will find four panels of the Berlin Wall History Mile which mark places where escape attempts have taken place: fatal ones, like that of Ida Siekmann on August 22, 1961, spectacular ones, like that of the DDR border post Conrad Schumann mentoned below, or successful escape attempts, like that of 57 people who fell through a 140-metre-long tunnel to West Berlin.  world public was there with cameras and film cameras. Such violent destruction of everyday life caused by the construction of the Berlin Wall has left clear traces on Bernauer Strasse to this day. The former death strip between Brunnenstrasse and Gartenstrasse was not built over and has been preserved in its entire width. The open-air exhibition of the Berlin Wall Memorial is currently being built here. The Berlin Wall memorial is located roughly in the middle of this section of the border, built by the German government in 1998.
Here a remnant of the border fortifications has been preserved as part of the Berlin Wall Memorial. It comprises of a seventy metre-long section of the border fortifications in the last state of development as it existed when the wall fell. Seen from the west, behind the concrete wall made of industrially manufactured L-shaped elements is a sandy area. This is followed by the column path illuminated with lanterns, a signal fence and the hinterland wall . Barbed wire elements are not included. An associated watchtower in its original historical condition was subsequently erected within the complex. The original watchtower was removed during dismantling shortly after the fall of the Wall, before the remains of the Berlin Wall were placed under monument protection by the East Berlin magistrate on October 2, 1990. The complex cannot be entered by visitors and has been rededicated as a monument. Both ends have been closed off with steel walls. The northern wall bears the inscription: "In memory of the division of the city from August 13, 1961 to November 9, 1989 and in memory of the victims
of communist tyranny. On the left is the corner of Bernauer Straße and Ackerstraße photographed in 1989 and during my 2020 Bavarian International School class trip. The wall required closing a section of Ackerstraße at the corner with that street, which fell within the "death strip." In commemoration of the Wall and those who died attempting to cross it, a portion of the main and inner walls and the "death strip" are preserved on Bernauer Straße at the corner of Ackerstraße as part of the Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer; 696 feet of the border strip along Bernauer Straße between Ackerstraße and Bergstraße were made a protected landmark on October 2, 1990 and this is now the last genuine remnant of the Wall.
Ackerstraße had earlier served as the setting for George Grosz's grisly 1916 lithograph "Lustmord in der Ackerstrasse" which depicted a woman sprawled on her bed, viciously bludgeoned with a meat hacker whilst a man washes his hands in the background. Indeed, the area was once derogatorily dubbed the "Berlin Sahara" given its pronounced poverty and asociality.
Looking at the site from the memorial towards the current chapel of Reconciliation.
In front of the chapel of Reconciliation, built in adobe in 2000 on the foundations of the Church of Reconciliation by 2000. It is part of the Berlin Wall Memorial. Since August 13, 2005, a fifteen minute prayer service has been held in the Chapel of Reconciliation every day from Tuesday to Friday at noon during which time the biography of a person who died at the Berlin Wall is read as part of a collaborative project between the Berlin Wall Association and the Centre for Contemporary History in Potsdam, in which historians research the biographies of Wall victims. The documentation centre itself is housed in the parish hall, which was built in 1965 to replace the inaccessible church. The construction of the Berlin Wall had made the original Church of Reconciliation, built in 1894, no longer accessible to the community in the western part of the city because it stood on the "death strip" between the inner and outer walls. My students on the right show the site then and now. The East German government finally ordered its demolition in 1985 in order to have a clear view of the border strip. After the reunification of Germany, the parish received the property back in 1995 on the condition that it be used for a religious purpose. Starting in June 1996, architects Peter Sassenroth and Rudolf Reitermann designed this unusual church building on behalf of the Evangelical Reconciliation Community. From June 1999, on the foundations of the chancel, an oval church interior was erected in rammed earth by tclay artist Martin Rauch, making the structure the first public earth building in Germany for over a century. As far as possible, materials from the Church of Reconciliation were reused in the building. The wall thickness is up to sixty centimeters with a height of seven metres and a length of 43 metres from which a total of 390 tonne sof rammed earth were processed. The rescued bells, manufactured in 1894, are hung in a belfry outside the chapel. The largest of them weighs 1300 kilogrammes and has a diametre of 150 centimetres. Two smaller bells weigh 850 and 500 kilogrammes and 130 and 110 centimetres in diametre. A walkway with seating connects the interior of the church with its surroundings. The floor plan of the Church of Reconciliation is marked around the chapel and serves as the church square. Altogether the construction costs amounted to 971,454  euros.
A number of groups were tasked with digging escape tunnels in the area, numbered for the sake of clarity. Tunnel 57, co-financed by Stern editor-in-chief Henri Nannen through the advance purchase of the exclusive rights to tunnel construction, ended in the backyard of this house at Strelitzer Strasse 55 in East Berlin. Eventually 57 refugees were able to escape from this site within two nights. After employees of the Ministry of State Security (MfS) discovered the tunnel on October 5, 1964, the East German border guard Egon Schultz was accidentally shot by a comrade
whilst trying to arrest the escape helpers. The escape helpers had been armed with pistols from police stocks. When Schultz entered the courtyard at Strelitzer Straße 55 with two MfS members and machine guns at the ready, there was an exchange of gunfire, during which Schultz was shot by escape helper Christian Zobel. He fell to the ground and was accidentally shot by another East German border guard with his Kalashnikov whilst trying to get up again.
Until the fall of the Wall, the MfS described the incident as a murder by escape helper Christian Zobel, who died in the 1980s believing he had shot someone. A memorial plaque was erected in honour of Schultze on the first anniversary of his death; the photo on the right shows the site on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the erection of the wall on August 13th, 1971. In addition, the parents, soldiers and officers of the border troops as well as the population of Berlin commemorated the anniversary of Schultz's death and the southern section of the street was renamed Egon-Schultz-Straße on August 12, 1966. After the fall of the Wall the street received its old name back on December 1, 1991. The earlier memorial plaque for Schultz disappeared in the 1990s. A new plaque was installed in its place in 2004 seen in the photograph. In addition, commemorative plaques for anti-Nazi resistance fighters Kurt Klinke at number 18 and Gustav Elfert at number 10 are located on residential buildings on this street.
Line U8's Bernauer Straße U-Bahn station, sited immediately south of the junction with Brunnenstraße. During the division it was closed and was considered a "ghost station" as shown here and during my 2020 class visit. The GIF on the left shows the sealed off station on August 13, 1961 with the wall being built in front ten days later shown above. After the Second World War, the station found itself immediately south of the border between the Soviet and French sectors. As a result, the building of the Wall on August 13, 1961 closed the station, making it, like five other stations along the line, a "ghost station" through which West Berlin trains passed. The northern exitn shown here, which leads directly to Bernauer Straße, was walled up during the Wall era. Since the subway station was completely in the border area, it was not possible to enter from either the east or the west side. An opening came about only with the political change. Thus on April 12, 1990, initially only the northern entrance from the direction of West Berlin was reopened, because unlike the subway stations Jannowitzbrücke and Rosenthaler Platz, no border crossing point could be found in the station's premisesto be set up. Access on the East Berlin side was made possible a few weeks later with the monetary union of the two German states on July 1, 1990. Some time later, the station underwent a refurbishment, again remaining closed for an extended period.
My students at the site of Conrad Schumann's famous "leap into freedom" over a roll of barbed wire on August 15, 1961 when he was guarding the construction of the Berlin Wall at the intersection between Ruppiner and Bernauer Strasse, which had begun two days earlier. Under the pretense of checking the spirals on the sidewalk, Schumann pressed down a spot with his foot, often walked back and forth between his actual watch station and the wire, taking a sense of proportion, and in an unobserved moment took the opportunity to jump over the barbed wire. Whilst he was still jumping, he grazed the shoulder strap of his submachine gun (PPSch-41) to drop it and ran on to a West Berlin police vehicle ten metres away, the crew of which had left the door open for protection because of his obvious intention to flee, which also encouraged him to take the risk. The photographer Peter Leibing took the famous photo at the moment of the jump when, sensing that something unusual was about to happen, he focused his Exakta camera with its 200mm lens on the barbed wire fence and pressed the shutter button at just the right moment when Schumann was over the fence. This image became one of the most recognisable images of the Cold War. The entire scene, with Schumann's escape preparations, was recorded from the same perspective on 16mm film by cameraman Dieter Hoffmann. Some time after the escape, Schumann moved to Edenhausen near Krumbach in the Günzburg district of Bavaria, where he met his future wife, Kunigunde. After the fall of the Wall, Schumann admitted that it was "[o]nly since November 9, 1989 did I really feel free" as throughout his life he feared revenge from the Stasi. Schumann last lived in Oberemmendorf in Upper Bavaria and worked in Ingolstadt at Audi AG as a machine setter. In a bitter irony, on June 20, 1998, he committed suicide.
The site before and after the fall of the wall from the British zone
  Tourists posing in front of the Berlin Wall at the Brandenburg gate in the British sector on June 6, 1989 and my students in 2013.
My students at the site where the wall followed along Niederkirchnerstrasse, named after Käthe Niederkirchner, an anti-Nazi communist resistance fighter. Before 1951 this street was called Prinz-Albrecht-Straße under which name, from 1933 to 1945, it became a synonym for the terror apparatus of the dictatorship during the Nazi era. The Gestapo headquarters, the Reich Security Main Office and the SS had their headquarters here. The Berlin Wall ran along the street from 1961 to 1989. After 1933, Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse became the control centre of the Nazi state, which was characterised by its close proximity to the government district on Wilhelmstrasse. Whilst most of the buildings on the northern side of the street remained largely undestroyed during the Second World War, they were severely damaged on the southern side, which belongs to the district of Kreuzberg. During the years of Berlin's division, the border between East and West Berlin ran along the street from 1948. All of the street land, including the sidewalks, belonged to East Berlin's Mitte district which is why the Berlin Wall ran here.  As is common practice, this was set back about one and a half metres so that the East German border troops could carry out construction and renovation work on their own territory. Here on the left is the Berlin House of Representatives, the seat of the Berlin state parliament. On the right with restored portico is today's Martin-Gropius-Bau, built in 1881 as the Kunstgewerbemuseum. When the burnt-out ruin was transferred to the state of Berlin by the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation in 1977, it was reassigned in the land register from "Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse 7" to "Stresemannstrasse 110", the neighbouring property of the destroyed Ethnological Museum. Today it is registered as "Niederkirchnerstraße 7" and is the only surviving building on this side of the street.

Students at the corner of Zimmerstraße and Charlottenstraße near Checkpoint Charlie in front of the former site of the wall. This would be a place of particular infamy in the early afternoon of August 17, 1962 when journeyman bricklayer Peter Fechter and concrete worker Helmut Kulbeik, both just of legal age, were shot whilst attempting to flee a year ofter the erection of the wall. At 14.10 Fechter and Kulbeik ran out of the hiding place of a carpenter’s workshop in the direction of the border system. Witnesses heard someone call out "Come on, jump" and saw a young man collapse right in front of the wall. Whilst Kulbeik made it to the West, Fechter paused in the hail of bullets, "apparently he was shocked that live shots were actually fired," according to Thomas Schmid's book "Mord an der Mauer"published in 1992 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Fechter's death. Only after fifty minutes of Fechter shouting "help me, help me"did border guards carry the now-silent man away from the wall, throwing him onto a covered wagon. Fechter had bled to death between the fronts of the Cold War with one of the 34 7.62 calibre steel bullets piercing through his right pelvic wing, tearing the colon and small intestine. Two witnesses on the east side were taken away and interrogated until 2 am, subjected to a body check "in all body orifices."

East Side Gallery
The East Side Gallery describes itself as "an international memorial for freedom." It is a 1316 metre-long section of the Berlin Wall located near the centre of Berlin on Mühlenstraße in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg. The actual border at this point was the river Spree. The gallery is located on the so-called "hinterland mauer", which closed the border to West Berlin. This is the longest, best-preserved and most interesting stretch of Wall and the one to see if you’re pressed for time. It was turned into an open-air gallery by international artists in 1990. The better works are located near the Ostbahnhof end. The Gallery consists of 105 paintings by artists from all over the world, painted in 1990 on the east side of the Berlin Wall. It is possibly the largest and longest-lasting open air gallery in the world. Paintings from Jürgen Grosse alias INDIANO, Dimitri Vrubel, Siegfrid Santoni, Bodo Sperling, Kasra Alavi, Kani Alavi, Jim Avignon, Thierry Noir, Ingeborg Blumenthal, Ignasi Blanch i Gisbert, Kim Prisu, Hervé Morlay VR and others have followed. The paintings at the East Side Gallery document a time of change and express the euphoria and great hopes for a better, more free future for all people of the world. In July 2006, to facilitate access to the River Spree from O2 World, a forty metre-long section was moved somewhat west, parallel to the original position.
Painting 25 is one of the best known of the Berlin wall graffiti paintings, a depiction of Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Honecker kissing as painted by Dmitri Vrubel. On the left is the condition of the painting in 2005 and at the right is me standing beside it after its restoration. The Russian words at the top read "God! help me stay alive" and continue at the bottom "Among this deadly love" ("Господи! Помоги мне выжить среди этой смертной любви"). Vrubel created the painting in 1990. Along with other murals in the section, the painting continued in display after the wall was taken down, but vandalism and atmospheric conditions gradually led to its deterioration. In March 2009, the painting, along with others, was erased from the wall to allow the original artists to repaint them with more durable paints. Vrubel was commissioned to repaint the piece, donating the €3000 fee he was paid to a social art project in Marzahn. My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love (sometimes referred to as the Fraternal Kiss or Bruderkuss) is, according to Anthony Read and David Fisher, "particularly striking, with a sharp, satirical edge." However, it was also widely criticized on creation as a straightforward reproduction of the photograph that inspired it taken on October 7, 1979 when Brezhnev was visiting East Germany at the time to celebrate the anniversary of its founding as a Communist nation.
  A 23-metre section was scheduled to be removed on March 1, 2013, to make way for luxury apartments. None of the artists whose work will be destroyed were informed of these plans. The demolition work actually started on March 1, 2013. According to German news FOCUS, authorities were not aware of the start of the demolition. Due to the involvement of protesters, demolition was postponed until at least March 18, 2013. Nevertheless, two-thirds of the paintings are badly damaged by erosion, graffiti, and vandalism. One-third has been restored by a non-profit organisation which started work in 2000 with the stated objective being the eventual restoration and preservation of all the paintings. However, the restoration process has been marked by major conflict. Eight of the artists of 1990 refused to paint their own images again after they were completely destroyed by the renovation. In order to defend the copyright, they founded "Founder Initiative East Side" with other artists whose images were simply copied without permission. Bodo Sperling launched a test case in the Berlin State Court in May 2011, represented by the Munich art lawyer Hannes Hartung and with the support of the German VG Bild-Kunst. The outcome of the trial would be a landmark declaration for European art law.

The memorial to the June 17 uprising, with the DDR-era mural in the background within Göring's former air ministry HQ. The central Monument in memory of the 1953 Uprising in the East German Democratic Republic is represented by a groundfloor relief, surrounded by a low barrier, created by Wolfgang Rüppel. Remarkably, Max Lingner's 18-metre long mural "Aufbau der Republik" (Building the Republic) is allowed to remain in situ.
 Photos from my 2014 and 2016 school trips on the anniversary of the uprising.

Checkpoint Charlie
James Bond at the best-known Berlin Wall crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War in Octopussy and me in 2020. As the most visible Berlin Wall checkpoint, Checkpoint Charlie was featured in movies and books. The site of the former Checkpoint Charlie is one of the most famous sights in Berlin today . On August 13, 2000, a faithful replica of the first control barracks was unveiled. The stacked sandbags are filled with concrete instead of sand. On Zimmerstrasse, as in other parts of Berlin-Mitte, a double row of cobblestones reminds of the course of the Berlin Wall. Checkpoint Charlie was one of the Berlin border crossings through the Berlin Wall between 1961 and 1990, connecting the Soviet sector with the American sector on Friedrichstraße between Zimmerstraße and Kochstraße (near the U-Bahn station of the same name) and thus the East Berlin district of Mitte with the West Berlin district of Kreuzberg. The checkpoint was established by the Western Allies in late August/ early September 1961 as a result of the building of the Wall to continue allowing members of their military personnel to cross the sector boundary whilst being registered and briefed. As everywhere on the western side, there were no controls on all other visitors to East Berlin, including at Checkpoint Charlie. 
Drake Winston at the site in 2021. A famous cafe and viewing place for Allied officials, armed forces and visitors alike, Cafe Adler ("Eagle Café"), was situated right on the checkpoint.The development of the infrastructure around the checkpoint was largely asymmetrical, reflecting the contrary priorities of East German and Western border authorities. During its 28-year active life, the infrastructure on the Eastern side was expanded to include not only the wall, watchtower and zig-zag barriers, but a multi-lane shed where cars and their occupants were checked. However, the Allied authority never erected any permanent buildings. A wooden shed was replaced during the 1980s by a larger metal structure, now displayed at the Allied Museum in western Berlin. Their reasoning was that they did not consider the inner Berlin sector boundary an international border and did not treat it as such. On the East Berlin side, the East German border troops allowed foreigners and East German officials to pass through, in addition to the Allied military personnel and diplomats who enjoyed freedom of movement in Berlin including employees of the Permanent Representation of the Federal Republic of Germany to the DDR. The director of the Komische Oper Walter Felsenstein, whilst living in West Berlin, also used this border crossing as an Austrian citizen. It was one of three Allied checkpoints used by the Americans, who named it "Charlie" after the third letter in the alphabet, "C", according to the international spelling alphabet. "Checkpoint Alpha" was the name of the checkpoint at the Helmstedt-Marienborn border crossing on today's Bundesautobahn 2, which was in the British zone, but because of the shortest autobahn connection to West Berlin used almost exclusively by the three Western Allies and also jointly was managed. Checkpoint Bravo was the American side of the Dreilinden checkpoint, which was moved to Drewitz in 1969 and later relocated to today's A 115. The nomenclature checkpoint for control point results from the fact that the western side did not recognise the legitimacy under international law as a state border, in contrast to the eastern term Grenzüberführungsstelle (GÜSt). In this regard, after the constitutional recognition of the DDR from 1972, there was a change for the inner-German border, but not for the Berlin sector border.
Walter Ulbricht had agitated and manœuvred to get the Soviet Union's permission to construct the Berlin Wall in 1961 to stop Eastern Bloc emigration westward through the Soviet border system, preventing escape across the city sector border from communist East Berlin into free West Berlin. Checkpoint Charlie became a symbol of the Cold War, representing the separation of East and West. Soviet and American tanks briefly faced each other at the location during the Berlin Crisis of 1961.  After the dissolution of the Eastern Bloc and the reunification of Germany, the building at Checkpoint Charlie became a tourist attraction. It is now located in the Allied Museum in the Dahlem neighbourhood of Berlin. Behind me is the Haus am Checkpoint Charlie, a private museum opened in 1963 by Rainer Hildebrandt, which was augmented with a new building during the 1990s. The two soldiers (one American and one Russian) represented at the Checkpoint Memorial were both stationed in Berlin during the early 1990s.
The site during the Berlin crisis and me today. As a result of the SED leadership's attempt to restrict the Allied rights of the western powers in Berlin, Soviet and American tanks faced each other, ready for battle, on October 27, 1961 as seen here. Soon after the construction of the Berlin Wall in August 1961, a stand-off occurred between US and Soviet tanks on either side of Checkpoint Charlie. It began on October 22 as a dispute over whether East German border guards were authorized to examine the travel documents of a US diplomat based in West Berlin named Allan Lightner heading to East Berlin to watch an opera show there, since according to the agreement between all four Allied powers occupying Germany, there was to be free movement for Allied forces in Berlin and that no German military forces from either West Germany or East Germany were to be based in the city, and moreover the Western Allies did not (initially) recognise the East German state and its right to remain in its self-declared capital of East Berlin. Instead, Allied forces only recognised the authority of the Soviets over East Berlin rather than their East German allies. By October 27, ten Soviet and an equal number of American tanks stood 100 yards apart on either side of the checkpoint. This stand-off ended peacefully the next day following an American-Soviet understanding to withdraw tanks and reduce tensions. Discussions between American Attorney General Robert Kennedy and KGB spy Georgi Bolshakov played a key role in realising this tacit agreement. Today we know that the commanders of both sides had orders to use their tanks if necessary. 
In November 1961, the United States responded to the more recent Berlin Crisis with Operation Stair Step. More than 200 fighter jets were transferred from the United States to France via Canada and the Azores and did not return to the United States until August 1962.
The checkpoint was the scene of spectacular escapes from what was then East Berlin. East Berlin refugee Peter Fechter died in the immediate vicinity . He was hit by several shots from an East Berlin border guard and bled to death on August 17, 1962 in front of western observers. The People's Policeman Burkhard Niering took a passport inspector hostage in 1974 and was shot while attempting to escape. On August 29, 1986, three GDR citizens successfully broke through the border barriers with a 7.5-tonne gravel truck. Hans-Peter Spitzner from Karl-Marx-Stadtwas the last escapee from Checkpoint Charlie. On August 18, 1989, he crossed the border with his daughter in the trunk of an Allied vehicle. 
A viewing platform was set up directly at the border wall on the West Berlin side, from which the death strip and the border crossing point on the East Berlin side could be seen. Even before German reunification, the checkpoint was dismantled on June 22, 1990 as part of a commemoration ceremony. Today it can be seen in the Allied Museum in Berlin.
 Checkpoint Charlie as it appeared in 1961 and during my 2016 Bavarian International School class trip. The crossing has been partly reconstructed with a US Army guardhouse and a copy of the famous sign warning ‘You are now leaving the American sector’. The original is now next door at the private Haus am Checkpoint Charlie shown behind, a popular if cluttered museum reporting mostly on the history and horror of the Berlin Wall. The exhibit is particularly powerful whislt documenting the courage and ingenuity displayed by some East German subjects in escaping to the West using hot-air balloons, tunnels, concealed compartments in cars and even a one-man submarine.

Stasi Museum

With my students from the Bavarian International School at the entrance of the research and memorial site at Building 1 of the former headquarters of the Ministry for State Security (MfS, Stasi) on Ruschestraße 103, near Frankfurter Allee at U-Bahn Station Magdalenenstrasse Line U5, and as it appeared with East German ruler Erich Honecker saluting Stasi head Erich Mielke. Today it serves as a facility for information about the activities of the State Security , about resistance movements and opposition in the DDR and about aspects of the political system of the DDR. A permanent exhibition ( Stasi Museum ) has been set up in the former, original work rooms of Minister Erich Mielke and his staff. The organisation is run by the Antistalinist Action Berlin-Normannenstrasse associatione. V. (ASTAK), which was founded in the summer of 1990 by civil rights activists in Berlin. Its aim is to promote the expansion of the memorial as a centre for the collection, preservation, documentation, processing and exhibition of testimonials as well as topic-related research on the DDR .
The building, House 1, was erected in 1960-61 as the offices of Erich Mielke, who served as Minister for State Security from 1957 until the end of the DDR. The entire block is a series of grey labyrinthine buildings, all hunched catastrophically together. A city within a city, the Stasi offices came complete with a movie theatre, canteen, a supermarket – and were surrounded by apartment buildings housing the people the Stasi liked to keep a close and paranoid eye on. It is home to Mielke's recently opened office and looks exactly how you'd expect it to look: carved busts of Marx and Lenin lining the hallways and the foyer, brown marble columns, off-white almost yellow walls, tacky gold-coloured railings. Whereas the first and third floors host a series of exhibitions about survivors of the East German regime, methods of surveillance, propaganda and general history, the second floor was entirely Mielke's. The abundance of space the man must have enjoyed on this luxury floor is nauseating to some considering how much the citizens of East Germany suffered under his watchful eye. According to Funder (57) in Stasiland, "[i]n Hitler’s Third Reich it is estimated that there was one Gestapo agent for every 2000 citizens, and in Stalin’s USSR there was one KGB agent for every 5830 people. In the GDR, there was one Stasi officer or informant for every sixty-three people. If part-time informers are included, some estimates have the ratio as high as one informer for every 6.5 citizens”.
The facility is located in a large part of the building complex built between 1930 and 1932 for the Lichtenberg tax office. After the war, German communists began to establish a dictatorial system of rule in the Soviet occupation zone (SBZ) of Germany. In 1946, partly through Soviet pressure, the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) and the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) united in the Soviet Zone to form the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED), whose leadership level formed the centre of power in the DDR until its collapse in 1989. The rulers created a system of violence and threats, rewards and preference. Individuals were educated to conform, submit and, where possible, to cooperate within the SED dictatorship. The SED had unrestricted access to almost all areas of life - exceptions were the churches, for example - in order to comprehensively control each individual and, if necessary, to reward or discipline them. The core of this ruling apparatus was the Ministry for State Security (MfS), which, as the so-called "shield and sword of the party" under the leadership of the SED, had to protect the "workers and peasants' power" and secure the monopoly of the SED dictatorship.  
At the end of the 1970s, the Ministry of State Security had extensive extensions built, for which, among other things, Max Taut's residential buildings in Normannenstrasse were demolished and the New Apostolic Church relocated. Inside the site, a canteen was built (a monument since 2015) and further high service buildings facing Ruschestrasse. After the reunification and peaceful revolution in the DDR, there were numerous protests by angry DDR citizens in front of the Stasi headquarters. In the building, employees of the ministry were busy destroying extensive files. After the head office was stormed on January 15, 1990, many documents were saved. The ASTAK opened the “Normannenstrasse Research and Memorial Site” on November 7, 1990 with the exhibition “Against the Sleep of Reason”. House 1 has been open to the public as a museum since then. The exhibition includes the office and work rooms of the former Minister for State Security Erich Mielkeand other rooms. Since January 2015, the permanent exhibition “State Security in the SED Dictatorship”, which was developed by ASTAK and the Stasi Records Authority , has been on display. The listed building 1 with the offices of the minister and his closest employees was energetically renovated by Arnold and Gladisch Architects and opened to the public again in 2012. The service buildings 7 and 8, which are shown to interested people during guided tours, are used to store the archive materials and have been renovated since 2015- it's shown directly behind me and my 2021 cohort and as it appeared in The Lives of Others:
The permanent exhibition "State Security in the SED Dictatorship" explains the structure, development and functioning of the MfS. It informs visitors about the people who worked for this institution and shows the methods they used to control and persecute the East German population. The heart of the museum is the historical office rooms of Erich Mielke, the last minister for state security in the GDR, which have been largely preserved in their original condition and can be viewed since 1990. The new permanent exhibition was developed by the sponsoring association of the Stasi Museum ASTAK e.V. in cooperation with the authority of the Federal Commissioner for the Stasi Records (BStU), which has taken on the content-related development of the 1st floor.
Beside the statue of (Iron) Felix Dzerzhinsky in the lobby on the three separate visits to the museum. Dzerzhinsky is best known for establishing and developing the Soviet secret police forces, serving as their director from 1917 to 1926. Later he was a member of the Soviet government heading several commissariats, whilst being the chief of the Soviet secret police. The Cheka soon became notorious for mass summary executions, performed especially during the Red Terror and the Russian Civil War.
In the corridor to the office and working quarters of Mielke. The main hall is dominated by three portraits: a bronze of Lenin; a portrait of Felix Dzerzhinsky, the founder of the Cheka, the forerunner to the KGB; and a painting of what looks to be Richard Sorge, a much-lauded Soviet spy executed by the Japanese during the war. The rooms on this level were designed to meet the needs of Erich Mielke. Their function and interiors remained largely unchanged from the time the building was completed in 1961. This area remained largely intact, even when the building complex was taken over by demonstrators on January 15, 1990. The many objects on display throughout the rooms were, however, later removed and archived.This level is therefore preserved in its original form and visitors can see it today in the condition that it existed when it served as Erich Mielke’s offices. On January 15, 1990 demonstrators took over the Stasi headquarters; the GIF on the right shows the result and with me instead today, exactly as it was before it was.

A week later, the Central Round Table, a committee made up of representatives of the SED dictatorship and civil rights groups, decided that a “memorial and research centre on DDR Stalinism” should be established in House 1. When nothing came of this declaration of intent, members of the Berlin citizens’ committee and other civil rights activists took action and began securing the historic site. In August they founded the association “Antistalinistische Aktion e.V.” (ASTAK). On November 7, 1990, it opened the Research Centre and Memorial at Normannenstrasse with an exhibition titled “Against the Sleep of Reason”. House 1, later named the Stasi Museum, has been open to the public ever since. The offices of Erich Mielke are preserved in their original condition and form the centrepiece of the historic site. The museum today serves as a "centre for the collection, preservation, documentation, rehabilitation and exhibition of evidence and research materials relating to East Germany".

Mielke's personal study then and today, almost perfectly preserved as it was. There's a bed, a small kitchen and a bathroom, which suggests that Mielke must have spent the vast amount of his time working, rarely going home to his wife and son. Mielke served his post until the wall fell. On November 9, when the wall was accidentally declared "open" at that famous press conference which changed history, the Stasi freaked out and started destroying files as everyday citizens rushed the Stasi offices and demanded to see what had been written about them. Mielke was kicked out of the party on December 3, almost certainly an attempt by the communists to wash their hands of those who committed unspeakable crimes. No longer shielded by his fancy role in the corrupt government, Mielke was arrested for the murder of the two policemen back in 1931. In 1992 he was sentence to six years in prison, and served four of those six years at the Moabit prison before being released for medical reasons. Mielke, his lawyers argued, was senile and had forgotten what he had done.
File card depicting exactly how Erich Mielke wanted his breakfast served
the Stasi HQ to which people are taken for questioning, and where Wiesler eventually consults the records for ‘Operation Lazlo’, is the real thing It’s now the Stasi Museum, Ruschestraße 103, Haus 1, in the Lichtenberg district. 
Standing where the scenes with Ulrich Tukur as Lieutenant Colonel Anton Grubitz were shot. His office was directly next to that of Stasi boss Mielke. 
The patina of the GDR had even been preserved. With their typical wood paneling, these offices have a unique "charm" and can be clearly assigned to a particular time and particular style – a situation that is both exciting and oppressive.In order to ensure the greatest authenticity, the producers wanted to shoot on original locations as much as possible. Yet even though the film relates events that took place only fifteen years ago, much has changed since then. "Ultimately, there is not much difference, as far as costs are concerned, whether you're shooting Berlin in 1930 or Berlin in 1984," says producer Max Wiedemann. In order to recreate the backdrop of the GDR, a great deal of effort went into the sets and decors. Particularly arduous was the painting over of graffiti, which is nowadays found everywhere. No sooner had the "works of art" been painted over than they reappeared the following morning! The production was also the first and is, to this day, the only feature film that was allowed to shoot in the original file-card archives of the former Stasi headquarters in the Normannenstrasse with the express authorisation of Marianne Birthler, the "Head of the Federal Authority for Documents of the State Security Service of the Former GDR." Scenes bearing a unique eyewitness character arose amidst this gigantic mechanical filing system. The archive was restructured and digitalized after the shooting was completed. The data are preserved, but the location of the files and documents no longer exists in the form shown in the film.
 It was from this office here that Mielke commanded a staff that grew from 2,700 at the time of the organisation’s formation in the 1950s to around 91,000 in 1989. As a consequence of the economic problems of the DDR, Mielke initiated a hiring freeze in 1983, otherwise the ranks would surely have swelled further. Here is his desk, which features his phone, a chair, wood-panelled cupboards (everything is wood-panelled), and a shredder, an ominous nod to the frantic efforts of the Stasi to shred secret documents of the citizens they spied on for an entire generation.
On the third floor Erich Mielke's office is preserved as he left it, his calendar turned to December 1989. Mielke's office has blue chairs, red rugs, wood panelings, and white polyester lace curtains. The furniture is the cheap fifties style found all over the East Bloc. On his desk are plastic ashtrays on doilies, a plaster bust of Lenin, a document shredder, and four telephones. But, as Rosenberg acknowledges, appearances are deceptive for this was the centre of 'the most extensive spy organisation in world history'.  
Dennis, ‎Laporte (51) The Stasi: Myth and Reality
Erich Mielke's conference room in his Stasi-central in Berlin-Lichtenberg where he used to meet the sixteen Bezirk-leaders from Stasi-departments all over East Germany and my 2020 cohort visiting the site. Throughout the complex there are a series of meeting rooms throughout with fancy worn maps hanging on the walls, long tables, comfortable bright blue chairs, and a secretary's desk complete with a telephone switchboard with oversized comical buttons like the kind one would see in an old James Bond film.
I'm standing beside the 1961 oil painting by Wolfgang Frankenstein- Mielke's favourite artist- described by Jörg Drieselmann who has headed the memorial since 1992, as "colour samples of a depressed monkey." Indeed, after attempting suicide, Frankenstein had been admitted to the Berlin-Nikolassee mental hospital until the end of the war. This came after his Jewish father had been sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp in 1943 followed the next year by himself receiving a summons to the Todt Organisation labour camp. After the Frankenstein worked as a freelance painter and contributed to various cultural magazines and co-founded the artists' cabaret The Bathtub (Die Badewanne). In 1951 openly denounced the remilitarisation of West Germany, after which he was expelled from various associations and so in 1953 he moved to the DDR. From 1968 to 1983 he was professor and head of the art education department at Humboldt University. One can still see his twenty murals on Meißner tiles in the Magdalenenstraße subway station with the theme of the history of the German labour movement dating 1986.
My students being given a tour of the Stasi's history and means of controlling the population. The Stasi's ability to control the population was greatly facilitated by its sophisticated surveillance methods. The agency employed an extensive network of informants and used advanced technology to monitor the activities of individuals. According to Jens Gieseke, a prominent historian of the Stasi, the agency had an estimated 91,000 full-time employees and over 200,000 informants by the 1980s. These informants were recruited from various segments of society, including workplaces, universities, and even within families. Their task was to report any signs of dissent or potential opposition to the Stasi. The Stasi also utilised a range of surveillance techniques to gather information on citizens. They intercepted mail, tapped telephones, and conducted extensive physical and electronic surveillance. One particularly infamous example of Stasi surveillance was the use of hidden microphones and cameras in private residences, workplaces, and public spaces. This invasive surveillance created a climate of fear and suspicion, as individuals were never sure if they were being watched or listened to. The mere perception of constant surveillance served as a powerful deterrent to dissent, effectively stifling any potential opposition. 
Furthermore, the Stasi's surveillance methods were bolstered by the comprehensive use of personal files. Anna Funder, an author and female historian who extensively researched the Stasi, highlights the existence of extensive dossiers on individuals that contained personal and private information. These files were meticulously compiled and included details such as political affiliations, relationships, and even sexual preferences. The possession of such intimate knowledge provided the Stasi with significant leverage over individuals, enabling them to manipulate and control those who posed a threat to the regime. Despite the effectiveness of the Stasi's surveillance apparatus, it is important to acknowledge that not all East Germans actively supported or collaborated with the regime. Many individuals, although aware of the Stasi's methods, sought subtle ways to resist or subvert their control. The popular sentiment of "Lügen haben kurze Beine" (lies have short legs) emerged, reflecting the skepticism of East Germans towards the credibility of the Stasi's propaganda and surveillance. This highlights the inherent limitations of the Stasi's control and the persistence of individual agency, even in the face of extensive surveillance. 
However, the Stasi's control over the population extended beyond surveillance and informants. Another crucial aspect of their strategy was the manipulation of ideological indoctrination. The ruling SED implemented a comprehensive propaganda system that aimed to shape the beliefs, values, and attitudes of the East German population. The Stasi played a pivotal role in enforcing this ideological conformity and suppressing dissenting voices. One key method employed by the Stasi was the dissemination of state-controlled media. The regime tightly controlled newspapers, radio, television, and other forms of mass communication, ensuring that only approved information and narratives were presented to the public. Any content that deviated from the official party line was swiftly censored or suppressed. This control over the media allowed the Stasi to shape public opinion and maintain a consistent ideological narrative that glorified the socialist regime while demonizing its enemies. Moreover, the Stasi actively targeted cultural institutions, educational systems, and youth organizations to ensure the indoctrination of the younger generations. The education system was heavily influenced by the state, with curriculum content and textbooks carefully curated to promote socialist ideals and the regime's version of history. Children were taught from an early age to revere the achievements of the German Democratic Republic and to view the West as a corrupt and decadent society. The Stasi closely monitored teachers and professors, ensuring that they adhered to the approved curriculum and propagated the desired ideological messages. To reinforce ideological conformity and discourage dissent, the Stasi utilized a vast network of informants within various social spheres. They encouraged citizens to spy on each other, fostering an environment of mutual suspicion and mistrust. The fear of being reported by a friend, neighbor, or family member stifled open dialogue and created a climate of self-censorship. This pervasive sense of surveillance, coupled with the constant ideological messaging, effectively suppressed any alternative viewpoints and fostered conformity to the state's ideals. However, it is important to note that the effectiveness of ideological indoctrination varied among individuals. Historian Jens Gieseke argues that while the Stasi's control over information and education was substantial, there were East Germans who remained skeptical and critical of the regime. Some individuals managed to maintain their own beliefs and engage in small acts of resistance, even within the confines of an oppressive regime. This demonstrates the resilience of human agency and the limits of the Stasi's control over individual thought and conscience. 
In addition to surveillance and ideological indoctrination, the Stasi employed various tactics to instill fear and control within the population. One such tactic was the widespread use of psychological and physical intimidation. The Stasi employed a range of methods, including harassment, threats, blackmail, and even physical violence, to quell any opposition and maintain control. The Stasi's psychological tactics aimed to create a climate of fear and uncertainty. They often targeted individuals who showed signs of dissent or opposition, subjecting them to constant surveillance, interrogations, and psychological manipulation. These methods were intended to break down the individual's will and force them into submission. The Stasi also utilized psychological pressure on the families and friends of targeted individuals, using their loved ones as leverage to ensure cooperation and silence. Physical violence was another tool employed by the Stasi to assert control. Dissidents, activists, and those perceived as threats to the regime were subjected to physical abuse, imprisonment, and torture. The notorious Hohenschönhausen prison, operated by the Stasi, became a symbol of the regime's brutality and repression. The Stasi's use of physical violence served as a stark warning to others, reinforcing the notion that resistance would be met with severe consequences. It is worth noting that the Stasi's tactics of intimidation and violence were not without resistance. While many individuals succumbed to the pressure and complied with the regime's demands, there were courageous individuals who defied the Stasi's control. Dissident movements, such as the Peaceful Revolution and the subversive activities of groups like the Bürgerkomitees (Citizens' Committees), showcased the resilience and determination of those who dared to challenge the Stasi's authority. These acts of resistance played a significant role in undermining the Stasi's control and ultimately contributed to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany. 
In conclusion, the Stasi's control over the population was achieved through a combination of surveillance, ideological indoctrination, and tactics of fear and intimidation. Their extensive network of informants and sophisticated surveillance techniques created an atmosphere of constant scrutiny and suspicion, stifling dissent and promoting self-censorship. The manipulation of ideological indoctrination through state-controlled media, education, and cultural institutions ensured the propagation of the regime's ideals and limited alternative perspectives. Additionally, the Stasi's use of psychological and physical intimidation aimed to instill fear and maintain control. However, it is crucial to recognize that not all individuals succumbed to the Stasi's control, and acts of resistance played a vital role in challenging the regime's authority. The Stasi's methods of control left a lasting impact on East German society, but ultimately, they were unable to suppress the yearning for freedom and the desire for change.
Before the war the area now occupied by Marx-Engels-Forum was a densely populated Old Town quarter between the river and Alexanderplatz, named after Heiligegeiststraße which ran across it between Kaiser-Wilhelm-Straße (now Karl-Liebknecht-Straße) and Rathausstraße. The area including the main post office was heavily bombed during Allied air attacks and most of its buildings reduced to ruins. After the war the ruins were cleared but nothing replaced them.  While the adjacent Nikolaiviertel was to be rebuilt, the DDR authorities in 1977 set up plans for a green space between the Palast der Republik and the Fernsehturm. The sculptor Ludwig Engelhardt was appointed as director of the project to redevelop the site as a tribute to Marx and Engels, the founders of the communist movement to whose ideology the East German state was dedicated. It consists of a rectangular wooded park with a large, circular paved area in the centre with a sculpture by Engelhardt, consisting of larger-than-life bronze figures of Marx (sitting) and Engels (standing). Behind the statues is a relief wall showing scenes from the history of the German socialist movement. The inauguration took place in 1986.  After German reunification in 1990, the future of the Marx-Engels Forum became the subject of public controversy. Some Berliners saw the Forum as an unwanted relic of a defunct regime which they opposed, and argued for the removal of the statues and renaming of the park. Others argued that the site had both artistic and historical significance, and should be preserved. The latter view eventually prevailed. The statues are now a tourist attraction, and a steady stream of people sit on Marx's knee to have their photos taken. With regard to the planned extension of the U5 line of the Berlin U-Bahn turning the park into a construction site for several years, the Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit has recently launched a discussion whether to rebuild the mediæval quarter afterwards.
The DDR Museum is located in the former governmental district of East Germany, right on the river Spree, opposite the Berlin Cathedral. The museum is the 11th most visited museum in Berlin and its exhibition shows the daily life in East Germany in a direct "hands-on"way. For example, a covert listening device ("bug") gives visitors the sense of being "under surveillance".  The museum was opened on July 15, 2006, as a private museum. The private funding is unusual in Germany, because German museums are normally funded by the state. The museum met some opposition from state-owned museums, who considered possibly "suspect" a private museum and concerned that the museum could be used as an argument to question public funding to museums in general.  Nevertheless, in 2008 and 2012 the DDR Museum was nominated for the European Museum of the Year Award. According to the statistics of the Institute for Museum Research and the Berlin Senate Chancellery, it is one of the most visited museums and memorials in Berlin with 504,564 visitors. It has also been ranked 44th in the survey of the German National Tourist Board (GNTB) in 2015 by international guests and in 2016 ranked 36th among the top 100 destinations.
The museum covers the areas of "State Border of the GDR", Berlin, Transport, Wall, Stasi, Consumption, DDR Products, Diet, Building, Living, Partnership, Family, Equality, Private Niche, Media, Literature, Education, Childhood, Youth, Labour, fashion, culture, leisure, music, holiday, health, army, opposition, party, state, Ministry of State Security, ideology, fraternities, DDR opposition, penitentiary, economy, environment and authority. In contrast to other museums, a large part of the exhibits can be touched at this exhibition: one can sit down in a wardrobe, rummage through the cabinets in the cabinets, or try out clothing pieces from the wardrobe with a digital mirror. In general, the exhibition does not focus on the individual exhibits, but rather on the scenic composition of the exhibits. Each panel construction contains a different thematic area, in each individual are numerous drawer doors, doors, windows or media. Behind these elements are the exhibits and information. In addition to the prefabricated buildings, there is also a trabant to be used with driving simulation, a cinema and a WBS 70-Plattenbauwohnung. The whole exhibition is interactive. From October 2010 the exhibition was also an experience restaurant, in which the visitors could also experience the typical GDR cooking. This was closed as of March 31, 2015, since the rooms were rebuilt for an expansion of the exhibition, which was opened in August 2016.
Student getting the treatment in the DDR Verhörzelle and inside a replica of a Stasi cell

Among the donations from foreign visitors can be seen Canadian Tyre money.
The site of the wall on Zimmerstraße near the corner of Wilhelmstraße with the Markthalle III behind me and as it appeared in 1976. The hall closed in 1910 due to unprofitability and was subsequently home to the Berlin Konzerthaus Clou, where Hitler first appeared as a speaker in Berlin on May 1, 1927 from 11.00 to 14.00. The closed assembly took place on the occasion of the May Day celebrations of the Berlin-Brandenburg Gau which, according to the Völkischer Beobachter, was attended by around 5,000 people and was led by Kurt Daluege, SA leader and deputy Gauleiter. Goebbels spoke before Hitler about the latter's ban from speaking in Prussia. This was also the site where Hitler made his first public appearance in Berlin in July that year.  At the end of the 1930s the city of Berlin divided the property and sold the former market hall and the front building on Mauerstraße to the previous tenant Hoffmann & Retschlag. The front building on Zimmerstraße came into the possession of the Nazis' central publishing house, Franz Eher Folger GmbH. The publisher set up its Berlin branch here and in the neighbouring buildings at Zimmerstraße 87–8 where the printing machines for the Berlin edition of the Völkischer Beobachter along with other party propaganda journals such as Das Schwarze Korps and Der Angriff were housed. After the war, the SED party organ Neues Deutschland was printed on them. The concert hall, which had already been closed due to the war, served in 1943 as one of the assembly camps for the last Jews who had been spared deportation until February 27, 1943 and who were still being forced to work in Berlin armaments factories. Towards the end of the Second World War aerial bombs destroyed the facilities of this former market hall that had been built between 1884 and 1886, except for the front building and its western side wing on Zimmerstrasse shown here. After the Berlin Wall was built in 1961 right in front of the building, it stood in the inaccessible border area until 1989. On the right is the dismantling of the concrete slab wall and erection of border wall 75 on Wilhelmstrasse. In 1976 here, between Niederkirchner Strasse and Friedrichstrasse, work began on removing the remains of the old border wall made of concrete slabs and building the new border wall 75 from precast concrete parts. In place of the old wall, a 400 metre long mobile safety fence will be erected temporarily, reducing the distance to the residential buildings to a width of 1.50 to 2 metres. A border soldier guards the area between the fence and the border wall.
Standing beside the large bronze statue of Lenin created by the Russian sculptor Matvey G. Manizer in 1925. It was erected about 20 miles south of Leningrad in Tsarskoye Selo, now renamed Pushkin, which had once served as the Tsar’s summer residence. During the Second World War the Germans Wehrmacht took Pushkin, dismantling the statue in 1943 and transporting it to Eisleben. There, in the “Krughütte” smelting works, the statue was to be melted down and used as urgently needed metal for war production. The statue survived the war for reasons that remain uncertain, probably because it was simply too large for the smelting furnace. Later in the German Democratic Republic, the statue’s survival became the stuff of legend, spun for political ends: It was said that Soviet forced labourers and ‘class-conscious’ workers at Mansfeld AG had “spontaneously come together” and saved the statue by hiding it under a scrap heap. When the Red Army entered Eisleben in 1945, the townspeople were then said to have raised the statue of Lenin “as a sign of gratitude for liberation from Hitler’s yoke by the glorious Red Army”, as was written in an official GDR brochure. Greeted by their revolutionary hero and a cheering populace, the soldiers of the Red Army were said to have marched triumphantly into Eisleben while inhabitants greeted them with flowers.The reality was surely otherwise when the occupying troops in Eisleben, initially the US Army, ceded the territory to the Red Army, around two months after the end of the war. The city did in fact raise the statue on the market square to greet the Soviet soldiers on July 2, 1945. Yet it seems the soldiers greeted Comrade Lenin with complete indifference, and the triumphant march, the cheering townspeople of Eisleben and the colourful flowers are also figments of the socialist imagination. In spite of all this, the Soviet Union was sufficiently moved by the raising of the statue that it made a gift of the statue to Lutherstadt Eisleben in an official ceremony on May Day 1948, with Walter Ulbricht in attendance, who went on to become First Secretary of the ruling Communist Party. The sculpture thus became the first monumental statue of Lenin in Germany.
The three-metre high Lenin relief on the Behrenstrasse side of the embassy was recently removed in February 2011 when the complex's swimming pool was completely renovated. This came after Gerlin journalist Gunnar Schupelius complained in 2008 that “Lenin went down in history as one of the greatest criminals of mankind. And the Russian embassy is not taking its picture off? This is scary to me. I would rather avoid Behrenstrasse in the future.” Here I am nine years later to see the facade of the building entirely cleaned up. This was the last of the giant likenesses of Lenin to be removed in Berlin having earlier been removed from the entrance to the Russian House on Friedrichstrasse, Leninallee and as a colossal statue made of red granite on Leninplatz, now renamed United Nations Square, although his relief can still be seen at the Soviet memorial at Treptower. Incidentally, it was near this site on the afternoon of May 7, 1866 that Ferdinand Cohen-Blind shot Bismarck twice from behind after the latter had just reported to King Wilhelm and was walking home. Bismarck spun around and grabbed his attacker, who was able to fire three more shots before soldiers from the 1st Battalion of the 2nd Guards rushed up and took him into custody. Bismarck continued on his way home. Later that night, he allowed the King's physician, Gustav von Lauer, to examine him. Lauer noted that the first three bullets had only grazed Bismarck's body and the last two had ricocheted off the ribs and had caused no major injuries. Some sources claim that Bismarck was saved because he had worn a bulletproof vest.