The Mauermuseum was one of the highlights of our trip to Berlin last year. “The Wall” is such a huge part of the consciousness of Berliners and indeed many others such as Monsieur and myself who grew up with the concept of the “Iron Curtain”. The iconic museum just by Checkpoint Charlie does a fabulous job of putting this grim period of history into historical context and is well worth the entry price.
Rather than going into a lengthy dissertation on all the background, here is the mission statement from the museum’s website:
Our museum was founded shortly after the construction of the Berlin Wall(August 13th 1961), on October 19th, 1962. The founder of our museum, Dr. Rainer Hildebrandt, believed that it was vital in the non-violent struggle for human rights „to be as close as possible to the injustice itself, where human greatness fully unfolds“. He came to Checkpoint Charlie to express his protest against the Wall and to provide assistance to the persons seeking help. Gradually the museum increased its exhibition space and contributed to the fall of the Wall. The museum had a vital role in history.
It is sobering to think how close the museum was to the border of the two zones. Today the streets are bustling with locals and tourists going about their business. Back in the day the view would have been very different – grim border posts and armed soldiers (rather than the actors who recreate the roles for today’s audience).
The museum isn’t pretty like many others with classical antiquities and beautiful works of art, so although I took quite a few photos they are atmospheric rather than attractive! There is a huge range of memorabilia including chunks of the now torn down wall and plenty of interactive displays. Large sections are also devoted to displays on various human rights struggles around the globe.
It is a lot to take in and quite draining at times but fascinating stuff. Three hours was about my limit – some of the escape attempts from east to west were harrowing and my brain just couldn’t take in any more information! However we would definitely go back again – we still have the third floor of the museum to cover!
A lengthy browse in the well-stocked gift shop and debates about how many more books we could fit into our luggage revived our spirits! On the way home we had a pleasant detour through the old Nikolaiviertel and late afternoon drinks by the Spree restored our energies.
The Mauermuseum is compelling stuff but like many museums can be quite a tiring experience especially if like us you try and read absolutely everything. We found interspersing “heavy” museums with lighter activities for the rest of the day was the way to cope with information overload and the darker chapters of Berlin’s past.
Other museums I can highly recommend in no particular order are the Deutsches Historisches Museum (permanent displays and seasonal exhibitions), The Story Of Berlin (800 years of the capital’s history and a tour of the nuclear bunker under Kurfuerstendamm), and the quirkily kitsch DDR Museum (another one with fantastic interactive displays including one of the infamous Trabi car). There are so many others and we have yet to visit all of them – saving those for future visits!
Copyright © 2017 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved