Remnants of the Wall

It is twenty years ago that the Berlin Wall came down. The anniversary of this turning point in history was celebrated the world over. It marked the beginning of the end of the Cold War and the reunification of the two Germany’s. Still many in Germany speak of the Wall continuing to live on inside the heads of its people. Juergen Litfin and Brocken Benno are two people for whom the Wall still marks every day of their life today.

Benno Schmidt, by now almost better known as Brocken-Benno. During almost 30 years the mountain known as ‘Brocken’ – the highest in the Harz region – was a militarized zone where the Soviet army and the secret service of the DDR had their spy-bastion with which they could listen far into Western Germany. DDR-Bordertroops and Soviet soldiers occupied and barred the area.It was a no-go area, also for Brocken-Benno. When, in December 1989, the area was reopened he was amongst the first to climb the peak and promised himself to keep on doing so from that day onwards. He kept his word. On the day the photo of Benno was taken, Brocken-Benno climbed his 5,588th peak, which adds to a total of 75,200 km he has covered in length and 2,8 million meters in height. The televisiontower today is a hotel with a café and a viewing platform.

The original DDR watchtower stands in the ‘Kieler’ neighbourhood in Berlin-Mitte in between a row of brandnew appartmentblocks. The caretaker is Jürgen Litfin. His brother Günter Litfin was the first victim at the Wall and the tower is a memorial that should commemorate him and all other victims of the DDR regime. Just a few steps away, at the place where his brother was shot lies another commemorational stone. Jürgen Litfin guides many visitors through his tower. For him no day goes past without living with the Wall and it’s consequences.

© 2009