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My goodness - a picture thread starting with a lengthy text and a very unremarkeable photograph…

What is, today, an innocent urban bicycle path, flanked by office buildings, appartments and government structures, was, until 1989, part of one of the most deadly borders in the world.

The Berlin Wall was not made purerly of concrete along it’s entire length. Several canals formed part of the East / West border, among them the „Berlin-Spandauer Schifffahrtskanal“. Dozens of people tried to swim across these canals in attempts to escape from the so-called German Democratic Republic. Some drowned. Some were shot. Some made it.

 

Along this canal lie the remnants of the ancient Invalid’s Cemetary, formerly adjacent to a home for injured soldiers, founded in 1746. Many once famous soldiers from long forgotten wars were buried here. Much later in history, this graveyard formed part of the ‚border proximity zone‘ which was strictly off limits and part of the border fortifications. Most of the graves nearest to the canal and an accompanying chapel were razed in the 1960ies in order to give would-be fugitives no hiding place or cover, and in order to supply the border patrols with a clear line of sight and fire.

At times, incidents would occur where East German border police shot at fleeing refugees, while West German police officers shot back at their colleagues across the border, being on order to safeguard any escape attempts. At the height of the Cold War, this could well have resulted in global desaster.

Some noble graves have been restored following Germany’s reunification in 1990. Most are barely discernible outlines in the grass. There are no visual cues as to the horror this place must have exuded, but a few remnants of the smaller secondary border wall („Hinterlandmauer“) and one or two modern info-boards.

I felt incongruous, walking on a warm and sunny summer’s day, birds chirping, through a deserted graveyard, along the former border, where, amongst others, a 14 year old boy was shot during an attempt to flee the country of his birth. Part of my own family was split between the East and the West. I am not partial to borders, fences and walls.

Some impressions from a haphazard stroll. Maybe the discrepancy between the history and it’s near invisibility will incite your imagination. Maybe these pictures will not work at all, without having been there in person.

 

 

 

[ All pictures in this thread: M10 ; Cron 50 V ]
 

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(6) Remnants of the secondary border wall („Hinterlandmauer“) with the top of a signpost quoting Dostojewski: „Everybody is guilty of everything“

 

 

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(10) Grave of a German officer killed in Beijing during the so-called Boxer uprising in 1901. The row of trees in the far background is adjacent to the canal, where all graves were destroyed for building the "death strip".

 

 

 

Edited by schattenundlicht
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(11) Outside again: 1990ies „Sinking Wall“ sculpture in the Invalidenpark, the former site of the invalid’s kitchen gardens

 

Edited by schattenundlicht
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My goodness - a picture thread starting with a lengthy text and a very unremarkeable photograph…

Some impressions from a haphazard stroll. Maybe the discrepancy between the history and it’s near invisibility will incite your imagination. Maybe these pictures will not work at all, without having been there in person.

 

 

LUF-500KB-00001-17.jpg

 

[ All pictures in this thread: M10 ; Cron 50 V ]

 

 

 

They work, my friend.  Thank you for posting.  

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  • 3 weeks later...

We can be grateful that you published this important portfolio online. Your images truly have resonance and speak to much more than a footnote in history. They echo the moral weight of the past in the present, even in the most commonplace walkway, captured with your "unremarkable photograph," as you say, which is all the more remarkable when we learn what is not evident. We can suggest expanding the portfolio, printing a hardbound folio edition, mounting a gallery exhibit, or creating of still image documentary with voice-over interviews. All prompted by this powerful statement of images so that "we can learn to see through photography" as you say on your website. Applause, applause with respect.

 

Rog

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