Berlin Wall  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The Berlin Wall was a long wall isolating West Berlin from the surrounding territory of East Germany. It existed from 1961 until 1989.

Contents

Legacy

Little is left of the Wall at its original site, which was destroyed almost everywhere. Three long sections are still standing: an 80-metre (263 ft) piece of the first (westernmost) wall at the Topography of Terror, site of the former Gestapo headquarters, half way between Checkpoint Charlie and Potsdamer Platz; a longer section of the second (easternmost) wall along the Spree River near the Oberbaumbrücke, nicknamed East Side Gallery; and a third section that is partly reconstructed, in the north at Bernauer Straße, which was turned into a memorial in 1999. Some other isolated fragments and a few watchtowers also remain in various parts of the city.

None still accurately represents the Wall's original appearance. They are badly damaged by souvenir seekers. Fragments of the Wall were taken and some were sold around the world. Appearing both with and without certificates of authenticity, these fragments are now a staple on the online auction service eBay as well as German souvenir shops. Today, the eastern side is covered in graffiti that did not exist while the Wall was guarded by the armed soldiers of East Germany. Previously, graffiti appeared only on the western side. Along the tourist areas of the city centre, the city government has marked the location of the former wall by a row of cobblestones in the street. In most places only the "first" wall is marked, except near Potsdamer Platz where the stretch of both walls is marked, giving visitors an impression of the dimension of the barrier system.

Museum

Fifteen years after the fall, a private museum rebuilt a 200-metre (656 ft) section close to Checkpoint Charlie, although not in the location of the original wall. They temporarily erected more than 1,000 crosses in memory of those who died attempting to flee to the West. The memorial was installed in October 2004 and demolished in July 2005.

Cultural differences

For many years after reunification, people in Germany talked about cultural differences between East and West Germans (colloquially Ossis and Wessis), sometimes described as Mauer im Kopf (The wall in the head). A September 2004 poll found that 25 percent of West Germans and 12 percent of East Germans wished that East and West should be separated again by a "Wall". A poll taken in October 2009 on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the wall indicated, however, that only about a tenth of the population was still unhappy with the unification (8 percent in the East; 12 percent in the West). Although differences are still perceived between East and West, Germans make similar distinctions between North and South.

A recent poll conducted by Russia's VTsIOM, found that more than half of all Russians do not know who built the Berlin Wall. Ten percent of people surveyed thought Berlin residents built it themselves. Six percent said Western powers built it and four percent thought it was a "bilateral initiative" of the Soviet Union and the West. Fifty-eight percent said they did not know who built it, with just 24 percent correctly naming the Soviet Union and its then-communist ally East Germany.

Wall segments around the world

Not all segments of the wall were ground up as the wall was being torn down. Many segments have been given to various institutions around the world. They can be found, for instance in presidential and historical museums, lobbies of hotels and corporations, at universities and government buildings, including the Pentagon near Washington, DC.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Berlin Wall" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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