Explore Berlin and Brandenburg
Opposite S-Bahn Nordbahnhof, on Bernauer Strasse, is the first of two buildings dedicated to the Berlin Wall Memorial (Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer), which contains a bookshop and screens an introductory film. Bernauer Strasse was literally bisected by the Wall; before the Wall was built you could enter or exit the Soviet Zone just by going through the door of one of the buildings, which is why, on August 13, 1961, some citizens, who woke up to find themselves on the wrong side of the newly established “national border”, leapt out of windows to get to the West. Over the years, the facades of these buildings were cemented up and incorporated into the partition itself, until they were knocked down and replaced by the Wall proper in 1979. A short section of Wall as it once was – both walls and a death-strip between – remain preserved at the corner of Bernauer Strasse and Ackerstrasse.
Down the road from the Berlin Wall Memorial, the Wall Documentation Centre keeps the story of the Wall alive using photos, sound recordings and information terminals, and has a useful viewing tower that you can climb to contemplate the barrier and the way in which it once divided the city.