Above: Berlin Wall Memorial at Bernauer Strasse

A Taxi Tour Around the Berlin Wall

One of the 20th century’s most potent symbols of oppression, the Berlin Wall, has now mostly disappeared. Among the most moving remaining sections is the Berlin Wall Memorial, with fascinating outdoor exhibits in English and German spread along several blocks of Bernauer Strasse. There, we had arranged to meet guide, taxi driver and native Berliner Thomas-Dietrich Lehmann, who grew up on the west side of the Wall.

In his taxi, he drove us to well-known sections, such as the East Side Gallery and the slabs in Potsdamer Platz. But we also stopped at more hidden remnants: a segment standing near an old railway trestle on Liesenstrasse, an unvisited watchtower glowering impotently on a quiet Mitte side street, a larger watchtower now in the front yard of an apartment building. This last now stands as the Günter Litfin Memorial, honoring the first person shot trying to flee across the border to the West. Lehmann met Litfin’s brother, who movingly related his memories of the murder. Lehmann proved to be a font of both historical information and personal stories, making his tour not only a memorable visit to important Wall sites, but a thoroughly engrossing introduction to Berlin itself.

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