Today the Berlin Wall marks its 50th anniversary.

by Leslie Hossack

For almost thirty years the Berlin Wall divided a city and defined a generation.

The Wall, Niederkirchner Strasse, Berlin 2010

© Leslie Hossack

At 2 a.m. on August 13th, 1961, East German soldiers began building the wall with barbed wire. Soon, West Berlin was enclosed by a fortified frontier 160 km long. Officially known as the Anti-fascist Protective Rampart, the wall was really put up to prevent East Germans from fleeing to the West. Eventually, the barbed wire was replaced with a concrete wall 3.6 metres high. There were up to 14 border crossings, including Checkpoint Charlie and the Brandenburg Gate.

For almost thirty years the Berlin Wall divided a city and defined a generation around the world. This photograph surveys one of the last remnants of the wall, an iconic relic of the Cold War protected for posterity behind a fence. It was badly damaged in 1989/90 by “wall-peckers” who attacked the wall with hammers during the nights after the opening of the frontier November 9th, 1989.

In Berlin today, little evidence of the wall remains. This section of the wall on Niederkirchner Strasse runs past the former site of the Nazi Security Headquarters created in 1939; this was also the headquarters of the SS. Unseen behind the viewer, still stands Göring’s gigantic Reich Aviation Ministry which was designed by Ernst Sagebiel and built in 1935-1936.

My photograph entitled The Wall, Niederkirchner Strasse is a construction, not a stitch. It measures eight feet long and is currently on view in my exhibition CITIES OF STONE – PEOPLE OF DUST at the Red Wall Gallery in Ottawa until September 2nd. This photograph is intended to simulate a walk along the Berlin Wall today, 50 years after it first appeared. I posted this image at 2 a.m. to coincide with the time that the Berlin Wall was born on August 13th, 1961.

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