Berlin turns to technology to bring back the wall
Wednesday 23 April 2008
Berlin's leaders were so happy to be rid of the most striking symbol of Cold War division that they tore the city's wall down after the collapse of East Germany and sold much of it off around the world. In retrospect, if only for the money it would have generated in tourism, they wish they had not been so hasty.
But beginning next week, visitors to the German capital will be able to rent a hand-held gadget that uses GPS technology to show where the Cold War barrier once stood. Fewer than two miles of the real bricks still exist, but the MauerGuide allows tourists to embark on a virtual tour of the full 98 miles of the wall's former course across the city.
"MauerGuide presents a well-documented and customised account of history that is appealing to tourists and fits nicely with our overarching memorial plans for the Berlin Wall," said Andre Schmitz, Berlin's state secretary for culture, after the city's mayor, Klaus Wowereit, tested the device.
Visitors to Berlin today can rarely differentiate between the former east and west of the once-divided capital, which has seen a dramatic construction boom since the wall was toppled in a peaceful uprising in 1989.
In 2006, the Berlin authorities announced a £35m plan to preserve remnants of the wall, while in a recent German tourism survey more than 70 per cent of respondents said they came to the capital to experience the wall and felt disappointed when they couldn't find it. Now, as plans advance to build a theme park called Ossi World dedicated to the East German state (an Ossi is an easterner) the digital-age Baedeker will help people to visualise what the hated and feared wall looked like and where it was. Using GPS navigation technology it presents pictures, video footage and audio recordings on the history of the Berlin Wall at five prominent sites along its former route. With commentary in English and German, tourists can also avoid herds of tour groups and navigate their own way for the price of £9.
Victims' groups estimate that more than 1,000 people died trying to escape from East Germany, many of them shot by Communist border guards. The wall's horror, however, has only added to its allure, particularly for overseas visitors, most of whom flock to the East Side gallery – a stretch of avant-garde art painted on one of the last remaining stretches of the wall.
Some 118 artists from 24 countries used the wall – the "anti-fascist protection barrier" in the argot of the rulers of the German Democratic Republic – as a canvas upon which to paint their farewell to the regime that erected it back in 1961.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
- 2 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
- 4 War is war: Why I stand with Israel
- 5 Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Ian Thorpe gay: Olympic swimmer comes out in Parkinson interview
Stephen Fry ‘criticises Operation Yewtree in dinner party rant’ calling for tougher laws to deter false sex abuse allegations
Israel-Gaza conflict: ‘Sderot cinema’ image shows Israelis with popcorn and chairs 'cheering as missiles strike Palestinian targets'
Israel-Gaza conflict: Israeli air strike destroys home for the disabled killing two women residents
Israel-Gaza conflict: Israeli PM says conflict may 'continue for a long time' as hundreds of Palestinians flee their homes
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
War is war: Why I stand with Israel
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’
Emergency data law: David Cameron plots to bring back snoopers’ charter
NUT strike: David Cameron announces crackdown on strike action ahead of mass industrial action
£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Dynamics CRM D...
£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Web Developer ...
£50000 - £67000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# R&D .NE...
£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...