I never saw the wall

freie Reportage | 2017-2018

Beitrag zur Ausstellung zu 30 Jahre Fall der Berliner Mauer der ‘Matite in Viaggio 2019’, Mestre (VE), Italien

 I never saw the wall. I moved to Berlin in the year 2000, before I was here only once, in the 90s. I didn’t go to East Germany or Eastern Europe during the ‘Cold War’ – my ignorance can’t be corrected anymore. Now I’m looking for traces of a border I have never seen.

On a long summer evening at the Liesenbrücken, from the former ‘west’. Dark shade under the ruinous iron beams, runners pass by.

On the other side of the tracks of Liesenbrücken is the St. Hedwig Cemetery. Along the Liesenstraße, at the bridge, a remnant of the front wall – ‘vorderes Sperrelement’ – is preserved, as at the cemetery a piece of the rear wall – ‘Hinterland Mauer’. Along the Liesenstraße the graves were cleared to a width of 40 meters. Currently, the compost heap of the cemetery is on this strip close to the track – there I sit, it starts raining and I view in direction of the bridges.

At the northern entrance of the S-Station ‘Nordbahnhof’- that was a ‘ghost station’ in the GDR, entrances walled-up and trains passing through without stops – is the ‘Wall-Kiosk’ (the writing on a printed brick masonry background, ‘wall’ is wall). There are all sorts of things, food, drinks, souvenirs. The operator is chatting with a guest in the evening sun. A few weeks before I bought an already yellowed map with the former course of the wall. It was helpful.

In this Watchtower Jürgen Litfin has established a memorial for his brother Günter Litfin, that was shot in 1961, while trying to swimm across the chanal to West Berlin. He was the first victim at the ‘Berlin Wall’ The tower is preserved inbetween the court of post reunification buildt apartment blocks. Evening sun and people sitting on the stairs at the chanal side.

From Spandauer Jagdhaus to Nieder Neuendorf the Wall Trail runs along the former border strip along the Havel through the Neuendorfer Heide. The political border was in the river Havel. I squat between the path and the banks of the Havel, probably already beyond the course of the ‘Vorderlandmauer’, in former no man’s land, on mossy foundation walls, parts of the ruins of a residential building. Large trees grow between bricks and the remains of tiles.

Down the Liesenstraße – here at the corner to Chausseestraße, on the site of the former border crossing with that name, a ‘Total’ petrol station. Red taillights of the filling up cars, in the illuminated cash hall there is coffee and so on. ‘Welcome’ on the sign in front.

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