Berlin, Sonnenalle/Baumschulenstraße
Baumschulenstraße 65, 12437 Berlin, Germany
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The expansion of the Berlin Wall

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In August 1961, the young Lutz Porombka was able to witness first-hand the expansion of the Berlin Wall, as his parents' flat was located in the immediate neighborhood of the border checkpoint Sonnenallee. In fact, it was so close that Lutz once saw a soldier staring inside his room through the window from a tank. The barbed wire that had been initially placed at the border was subsequently replaced with a proper wall which was gradually further expanded. There were dogs and soldiers everywhere along the wall. The wall separated Lutz from his favorite places like playgrounds where he used to go. On the way to school, Lutz walked through an enclave to West Berlin. “If you had a paraglider, you could have jumped out of the school-building window and fly over to West Berlin,” he recalled. The pupils had a great view of the Wall from the windows and thus it comes as no surprise that they twice had the chance to watch an escape attempt across the Wall to West Berlin. These extreme experiences made the young students question the prevailing regime in East Germany for the first time in their lives.

Lutz Porombka

Lutz Porombka

Lutz Porombka was born on October 24, 1955, in Berlin and spent his entire childhood until his graduation from high school in East Berlin with his parents who were very close to the Communist party of East Germany. During this period, he witnessed first the construction and then the expansion of the Berlin Wall first-hand because he lived together with his parents in an apartment that was located right at the Wall near the Sonnenallee Avenue. Porombka completed his very straightforward education and studies and earned a degree in engineering from the university in Dresden. However, the young Porombka spouses then returned to East Berlin where their two children were born. Despite the fact that they lived right adjacent to the border in East Berlin, they didn’t see too much of the revolutionary events surrounding the collapse of the Berlin Wall. In 1991, they moved to Bingen am Rhein for professional reasons. They still live in Bingen today.

Berlin, Sonnenalle/Baumschulenstraße

Available in: English | Deutsch

The Sonnenallee Avenue came into existence in the 19th century in Berlin, sub-divided into the districts of Neukölln and Treptow-Köpenick (district of Baumschulenweg). The erection of the Berlin Wall resulted in the separation of the south-western segment of the avenue in August 1961. A border checkpoint was established at the Sonnenallee for the inhabitants of East and West Berlin. Thanks to the conclusion of an agreement between East and West Berlin, inhabitants from the West were allowed to cross the border and visit their relatives in East Berlin. However, this border could also be used illegally, which is demonstrated by the tragic fate of the last victim of the Berlin Wall, runaway Chris Gueffroy, who was shot by the East-German border guards in the spring of 1989 while attempting to escape to West Berlin.

Berlin, Sonnenalle/Baumschulenstraße

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The expansion of the Berlin Wall

The expansion of the Berlin Wall

Lutz Porombka
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