Berlin - Not much is left of the wall that separated East and West Berlin for almost 30 years. These days, tourists head to the East Side Gallery. A few segments of the Wall still stand on Bernauer Straße. A few stray to a far-flung corner of Wilhelmsruh, a neighbourhood in Pankow, where a 150-metre section of the Wall has now been declared a historic monument.

The overgrown concrete wall at the end of Schillerstraße once belonged to East Germany's border installations. The section of the "hinterland wall" - a secondary barrier on the eastern side - now borders an idyllic garden plot and a daycare centre. It once separated Wilhelmsruh in the east from Reinickendorf in the west and is one of the last completely intact sections of the hinterland wall which had not yet been protected as a historic monument.

DDR-Museum
The red line illustrates where the hinterland barrier ran before the fall of the Wall. The brown line marks the main wall.

In communist times, the VEB Bergmann-Borsig factory was located on the large industrial site, today's PankowPark. All of East Germany's power plants were built here. From when the Wall went up on August 13, 1961, the factory with 4,500 employees was located directly on the new border to West Berlin. The workers were subjected to special security measures.

Sören Marotz, the exhibition manager of the DDR Museum who rediscovered this piece of the Wall, completed an apprenticeship at the plant as an electrical mechanic during the final months of East Germany. His dream was to work on nuclear power plants in the GDR. 

The remaining three to three-and-a-half metre high wall was built in its current form in the 1970s. East German authorities said the barrier was intended to prevent Western spies from spying on company secrets, but Marotz is not convinced. It would have been easier to get one of the 4,500 workers to do it, he says.

Weekend escape

After the Wall was built in the summer of 1961, several escape attempts were made at the VEB Bergmann-Borsig site. Holes were made in the initial  brick wall. People would escape on weekends when the factory was empty. A tunnel to the West was dug from the site - through which several people successfully escaped.

A peculiarity of this stretch of wall is a small, rusty door. But this wasn't the stuff of spy novels. It was built out of convenience. There was a storage area adjacent to the winding border and for factory workers, it was easier to transport materials right through the wall strip than around it.

The fact that the stretch of wall is now a listed monument means it can't be demolished. The owner, rail operator Niederbarnimer Eisenbahngesellschaft, is responsible for its preservation. In the future, the route of the famous Heidekrautbahn rail line is to run directly along the wall up to Schorfheide in Brandenburg.

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