Recommended as private guide in
Rick Steves' 'snapshot Berlin':
" enthusiastic historian who grew up behind the Wall..."

before and after


The Berlin Wall and what was behind



The second German dictatorship, which arose in East Germany after the war, was based on Communist ideology. And it was not just about political ideas. The regime changed the landscape of the eastern part of Berlin completely. This is most obviously the case with the Berlin Wall. But the tour does not only focus on this very prominent piece of Cold War history. The tour also follows the traces of the East German dictatorship into the former East Berlin, where you will see the monuments and neighborhoods, the architecture and structural design of what used to be East Berlin. And I do remember that time, so it will be my pleasure to recall the past by telling you some personal memories.


Kleiner Friedrich1  Checkpoint Charlie

When the East Germans built the Berlin Wall in 1961, they also thought the borders between the allied...
sectors of Berlin would be under their authority. That proved to be a misconception. When East German border guards took it upon themselves to check GI’s on their way into the Soviet sector, General Lucius D. Clay responded by sending tanks to Checkpoint Charlie … tanks that had their guns pointed at East Berlin. The eastern side reacted in kind, and the world held its breath, waiting to see who’d start shooting first. At least, this is the official version you might find in the books. By chance, I once heard another story that seems much more likely....


Kleiner Friedrich1  Death of a border guard

No one will ever know the details of what happened when the young border guard Helmut Just was shot...
in December 1952 while guarding the border between East and West. Still, a commission was set up to look into this incident, and in fact the story seems clear. So it still requires a bit of an investigation to be done at the place where the killing happened. Why don’t we try to find out the truth behind this story together?


Kleiner Friedrich1  neighborhood of concrete

In 1989, 49% of the houses in East Berlin were made of concrete. They were arranged in neighborhoods...
that were built out of nothing in a short time. Living conditions were much better in the older structures, but the old buildings were extremely neglected. Central heating systems, elevators, and hot water out of the tap made these houses very attractive. There is a little neighborhood just like this in the middle of town. I’d love to tell you a few stories about what life was like before 1989!


Kleiner Friedrich1  breaching of the Berlin Wall

There is a certain checkpoint where, in November 1989, the Berlin Wall was first breached. It is easy today to
overlook this place. But if you know about it, you will find many illuminating details there that tell you what happened exactly on this miraculous Thursday, November 9, 1989—when German citizens first broke through the Berlin Wall.


Kleiner Friedrich1  The Berlin Wall

The idea of dividing a city of 3.5 million people in half has already started to seem weird to us today. And if one...
thinks about a wall that is 27 miles long and 11 feet high, guarded by thousands of border guards with orders to shoot at anyone who trying to cross the no man’s land—well, this is inconceivable in the world of today. Well, that was the daily reality in Berlin for almost 30 years, until the Wall fell in 1989. After the breaching of the Wall in November of that year, the authorities removed it rapidly and almost completely. Today, only three places are left where the Berlin Wall can be seen, and only one of them gives an idea of the whole fortification line. Let’s go to this place … I have a million stories to tell!


Kleiner Friedrich1  East-Side-Gallery

Shortly after the breaching of the Berlin Wall artistst from allover the world came to Berlin to create...
one of the longest art - galleries of the world. It exists until today and is known as 'East-Side-Gallery". It is made of  105 paintings some of them of outstanding quality. especially well know is the 'fraternity kiss' which can easiliy be misunderstood....


Kleiner Friedrich1  Tear down this wall

The speech is well known, in particular the word of 'tear down this wall'. But, first: where...
was it held? TeardownSecond: honestly, there are a lot even better sentences in it like "Es gibt nur ein Berlin" - Reagan spoke these words in German. And: "as long as this gate is closed .... the question of freedom for all mankind [is open]." Also there is a plaque not too far away from the spot comemorating the speech. Let's go there and remember together. And  I will tell you what I thought of Reagan at the time - when I was a schoolkid in east-Germany.


Kleiner Friedrich1  The escape that failed

Not much seen by any tour group the memorial tells a story that is rather important for...
cold-war-Berlin. It's about a young bricklayer from east-Berlin who tried to escape over the newly built Berlin Wall. He did not succeed. The precise details of this escape attempt are telling a lot about the athmosphere of the 60th in Berlin.

  Friedrichgold4 © Bernhard