This year marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. On the 9th of November, a light installation will illuminate the former course of the wall as a 'symbol of hope for a world without walls'. Berlin has organised plenty of activities and events that memorialise the division of the city, the cold war and the events leading up to the reunification of Germany. Auto Europe Australia have collected five sights and day trips in and around Berlin that will give you a deeper understanding of the German Democratic Republic (commonly known as East Germany) and enrich your Berlin experience.
The DDR Museum hosts interactive exhibits on Berlin's History and an introduction to the first socialist state on German Soil. Watch typical GDR child programs or dance to Lipsi, the GDR's answer to rock 'n' roll. You can listen to prisoner interrogations or cast your vote in the elections of the GDR parliament. Taste traditional GDR dishes such as Soljanka, a meaty Russian soup, or a cabbage roulade at Domklause, the GDR restaurant located next to the museum.
Drive 40 minutes south west of Berlin and you'll find yourself in the city of Potsdam, an place full of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Start with the Cecilienhof Palace, a structure built in the 18th century by the last ruling family of Prussia. It might look small, but the Cecilienhof Palace holds an astounding of 176 rooms. This is the scene of the 1945 Potsdam Conference, the third and longest summit between the Allied leaders, where the future of Germany and post-war Europe was decided. The building and its garden parks are open for visitors. Click here for the driving route!
Leipzig is a young and vibrant city located just two hours from Berlin. Due to the city's burgeoning art scene, it has taken on the nickname of 'new Berlin'. Despite the new moniker, Leipzig is certainly a unique and charismatic metropolis. With historical architecture, great food and numerous attractions, it's the perfect day out for the whole family. Visit the former Leipzig Headquarters of the East German Secret Police: The Stasi Museum. This museum documents the GDR propaganda, disguises, surveillance, recruitment (including the recruitment of children) and much more. You can also visit the Stasi Bunker, where the police would move their activities in the event of a war. The bunker was top secret and only discovered after 1989. Click here for the driving route!
With visibility up to three metres down, Liepnitzsee is one of the cleanest lakes in Brandenburg. It defines 'Wunderbares Deutschland' and is well worth the 50 minute drive. During the time of the GDR, this area was reserved for the VIP members and their family and friends, though it has been open to the public since 1992 and is perfect for a hot summer day. Whether you enjoy swimming, walking or biking, you can find it all in this area. Tip: take the small ferry to island in the middle of the lake. Click here for the driving route!
Eisenhttenstadt is a very small town close to the Polish border. The city was founded in 1950 under the name Stalinstadt and functioned as a socialist model city. It was built around a steel mill and most of the city was designed by Bauhaus architect Franz Ehrlich, according to standard 3 or 4 story buildings designs. Eisenhttenstadt is home to the Documentation Centre, where you can view a collection of over a 150,000 documents that provide insight into daily life during the existence of the GDR. Take the kids to the Steel Mill, which is still in use, for a fun and educational day out. Click here for the driving route!
Following an agreement signed by the Allies at the close of the Second World War, Berlin was divided into four sectors and administered jointly by the occupying powers: the United States of America, Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union. The first three combined their sectors under allied supervision in 1949, whilst the Deutschland Demokratische Republik (DDR or GDR) was established in the Soviet sector. In 1961, in the middle of the Cold War, the GDR initiated the construction of the Berlin Wall, considering it a border to protect its citizens from 'the hostile activity of West Germany's and West Berlin's revanchist and militaristic forces'. The population of the DDR was no longer allowed to cross the border. The city was divided until the offical reunification of Germany in 1990. Learn more about the history of the Berlin Wall.
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