The viewing platform was added to the Documentation Center building in 2002. The building itself is much older: It was built in 1965 as the parish house for the congregation of the Protestant Reconciliation Church. After the Wall was erected, the congregation’s church and parish were situated in the border strip and inaccessible. Since 1999, the congregation has let the memorial use a large part of this building for its work. The former parish hall now accommodates the permanent exhibition.
From the viewing platform you can see a large expanse of the former border strip along Bernauer Straße. You can also recognize the many different layers of the border fortifications.
To the right you’ll see Area A of the memorial grounds with the “Window of Remembrance” that is dedicated to the 128 civilian victims of the Berlin Wall. You can also see the original remains of both the Berlin Wall and the inner wall.
The monument that opened in 1998 is right across from where you are standing. A section of the original border fortifications has been incorporated into the design. From this bird’s eye view you get a good impression of the border system that was erected by East Germany. This is how the border grounds looked in the early 1980s: If a person tried to escape at that time, the first thing he would have encountered was the inner wall facing East Berlin. There was a signal fence located just beyond it which set off an alarm in the watchtower when touched. The posts of the signal fence are still visible. But the surface obstacles are gone. They were removed in 1983. They consisted of mats with steel spikes sticking out of them. The surface obstacles were positioned behind the signal fence and caused several people to be injured during their escape. The security strip, which contained anti-vehicle obstacles until 1983, was situated beyond the watchtower, the line of lampposts and the patrol road. The last addition to the fortifications was the so-called “Border Wall 75”. This version of the Berlin Wall, which was 3.6 meters high, has formed the dominant image of the Wall today.
To the left of the monument you’ll see the Chapel of Reconciliation and the excavated ruins of a border house.