Berlin, Friedrichstraße
Berlin-Friedrichstraße, 10117 Berlin, Deutschland
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(Un)limited entry at the border crossing Friedrichstrasse

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By moving to West Berlin in 1985, Heinz-Dieter Schumacher obtained a travel authorization and was free to travel to and from the GDR. During his numerous trips to the East, he would mostly cross the border at the Friedrichstrasse station, as he did for the first time. Before doing so, he had been advised by his friends to behave discreetly in order to avoid being arrested in the East. To get to the border checkpoint, he drove to the station and then had to pass the border control. The border crossings were sometimes connected to an intensive screening-process of personal documents. At other times, he would be simply granted passage with a simple waving of the hand of the customs official. The laminated customs-office doors led to the so-called “Palace of Tears,” where Heinz-Dieter Schumacher watched people from the East parting with their loved ones from the West or – on the contrary – impatiently awaiting the arrival of their relatives. After the fall of the Wall, Heinz-Dieter Schumacher’s relatives from the East set out on a journey to the West to visit him at his home. After the arrival of his two cousins, he wanted to pick up his brother at the Friedrichstrasse station on November 1989. However, because the station was completely overcrowded Hans was unable to find his brother among the hoards of people migrating from the East to the West. On his way back from the station, Heinz-Dieter Schumacher – to his great delight – discovered many newly created border crossings and niches. When he came home, his brother had already arrived there and thus the whole family met for the first time together in the West. There were no longer any travel restrictions.

Heinz-Dieter Schumacher

Heinz-Dieter Schumacher

Between the years 1985 – 1994, Dr. Heinz-Dieter Schumacher lived in the western part of Berlin. This allowed him to directly experience the Iron Curtain, which was primarily embodied in the Berlin Wall. His interest in border phenomena led him to undertake journeys to both sides of the German border. His travels offered him multiple perspectives of the social situation of the period.

Berlin, Friedrichstraße

Available in: English | Deutsch

Der S-Bahnhof Berlin-Friedrichstraße war zu Zeiten des Eisernen Vorhangs der letzte Bahnhof in der DDR vor der Grenze nach West-Berlin. Er stellte eine der wichtigsten Übergangsstellen zwischen Ost- und West-Berlin dar. Ab 1945 flüchteten hier noch viele Menschen aus der DDR in den Westen. Die Inbetriebnahme der Mauer ab August 1961 teilte den Bahnhof allerdings in zwei Teile und machte ihn von einem Durchgangsbahnhof zum Kopfbahnhof und zum Grenzübergang für Reisende aus beiden Teilen Berlins. Zwei getrennte Bahnhofsbereiche entstanden – einer für die West- und einer für die Ost-Reisenden, wobei der Kontakt zwischen den beiden Bereichen nicht möglich war. Aufgrund der unzähligen Abschiede, die Menschen hier bis 1989 von ihren Verwandten und Bekannten nehmen mussten, nannte man den S-Bahnhof „Tränenpalast“.

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