It is always different hearing about history and walking where history was. There were only 18 Fulbrighters that went to the museum, so we were able to all be in one group (luckily in English). Our tour guide was Canadian, and he spoke French, English and German. He led us through the museum, giving us a background on each exhibit that we saw:
|The original border gate that was used|
|The electrified fence that was used|
|Uniforms of soldiers stationed at the checkpoint|
|What the checkpoint looked like|
The walk up to the watch tower was very beautiful, but very sad to know that over 1000 people died in this small area trying to escape from East Germany. At the top of the hill you could see for quite a long ways. And for 5 miles within the border, all towns had been forced to evacuate by the government. Only soldiers, those completely loyal to the party and farmers that worked the nearby land were allowed to live in that area (and the farmers were forced to farm with guns to their head to reduce the risk of fleeing).
We got to see a small section of fencing that was still standing. The ditch beside it was slowly filling in over time, so not as impressive as it once was, but still daunting. It is always more real to be able to visualize what people had to go through to try and escape, which is why the museum is trying to build a section of the fencing and walkways back up to what they looked like originally. Only so that people can truly understand the daunting task that those escaping were faced with.