Section of Berlin Wall torn down to build condos
April 2, 2020 1:17 PM
(BERLIN) -- In the Berlin neighborhood of Pankow, a 196-foot stretch of the Berlin wall has been torn down to make way for condominiums, sparking the ire of historians.
"The partial demolition of the continuous piece of the hinterland wall on Dolomitenstrasse is a clear loss of original wall remains," Manfred Wichmann, head of the Berlin Wall Foundation, told German paper Tagesspiegel.
Located in a quiet neighborhood, the demolished divider was part of the so-called hinterland wall complex that ran along the Berlin-Stettin railway line for several hundred meters and separated East and West Germany. Five panels remain on a piece of property owned by the German railway company Deutsche Bahn.
"This was a testimony to how deeply the border regime of the GDR intervened in the everyday life of the people in East Berlin," Wichmann added.
The 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall was celebrated Nov. 9 throughout the city, including at pieces of the wall such as the one in Pankow.
While remains of the wall in central Berlin have become memorials to the city's long separation, others, such as demolished sections on the city's outskirts, are far from the public eye and receive less attention. Yet, historians have said these sections still hold historic value.
The Berlin Wall Foundation has argued that even less visible parts of the wall outside of the city center, such as in Pankow, should be preserved. With only about 6,500 feet remaining in Berlin, historians such as Wichmann have said it's more important than ever to preserve it.
This particular section of the wall, about 11 feet high, wasn't a protected historical site, known to few outside the neighborhood besides graffiti artists. City Building Councilor Vollrad Kuhn told Tagesspiegel that the demolition had taken place as scheduled and did not require any specific procedure, as it was not a listed building.
"No protected status was determined by the monument authorities; the foundation had obviously campaigned too late to preserve it," Kuhn told the paper.
As building projects continue in the German capital post-reunification, many segments of the former divider have been torn down, some higher profile than others. In 2013, a plan to demolish the East Side Gallery, a coveted section of the wall, to make way for luxury apartments on the city's river Spree was met with outrage and public protests. The popular tourist destination is an .8-mile stretch of wall that features street art from some of the city's leading artists, including pieces of historic significance from decades earlier.
That year, work crews removed portions of the wall for the construction of high-rise luxury apartments. Kani Alavi, head of the East Side Gallery's artists' group, told The Associated Press at the time: "All they see is their money. They have no understanding for the historic relevance and art of this place."
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