Berlin, Brandenburger Tor
Brandenburger Tor, Pariser Platz, 10117 Berlin, Deutschland
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The fall of the Wall

Available in: English | Deutsch

The fall of the Wall, on 9 November 1989, came as a complete surprise to Manfred Matthies. The demonstrations in the weeks preceding it filled him with fears as he anticipated a violent crackdown on the protesters coming any minute: “the tanks will be here any minute because that’s just how it works in the east.” On the night of the opening, he observed the crumbling of the Wall at various places throughout the city. At the border crossing on the Kochstraße, cigarettes were being handed over the Wall while the border police stood by and watched. At the Brandenburg Gate, Matthies stood on the wall together with others and soon the rumor was spreading that the border would be opened at the Bernauer Straße. Indeed, the citizens of East Berlin were allowed to cross the border that night: “this huge Trabi train covered in a cloud of vapor rolled in through West Berlin. The people were excited. It was a single celebration. People were blowing their horn and clapping on the roofs of the cars.”

Manfred Matthies

Manfred Matthies

Manfred Matthies was born in 1941 in Magdeburg. In 1959, the nearly 18 -year-old Matthies fled with his mother and sister from Magdeburg to East Berlin and from there to West Berlin. It was only later that he learned that his mother had already been under the surveillance of the Stasi because of her contacts with the West. From West Berlin the family was sent to North Rhine-Westphalia, where Matthies worked for several years. In 1961, he went to study in West Berlin where he witnessed the construction of the Wall. Matthies and his brother then became members of a student group that assisted East-German fugitives to migrate across the border to the West. They made use of the complete repertoire of escape methods: forging passports, tunnel excavations, fleeing through the sewers, transportation in converted cars, escaping by car across the Hungarian-Austrian or Yugoslavian border or in a sailboat from Poland via the Baltic Sea. By the end of December 1972, however, Matthies was arrested at a checkpoint while assisting a fugitive and sentenced to 13 years in prison. He was imprisoned in Bautzen II for a number of years and released early in 1976. Matthies then went back to West Berlin. When the Wall came down in 1989 it came as a complete surprise to him. The night when the wall collapsed, he was at the Brandenburg Gate.

Berlin, Brandenburger Tor

Available in: English | Deutsch

Mit dem Bau der Berliner Mauer am 13. August 1961 stand das Bauwerk mitten im Sperrgebiet und konnte weder von Westen noch von Osten durchquert werden. Nur die DDR-Grenzsoldaten und die durch das Personal des Informationszentrums Brandenburger Tor zur Besucherplattform geführten Besuchergruppen (meist Staatsgäste in der DDR) konnten an das Bauwerk heran. Mauerfall und Restaurierung 28 Jahre nach dem Bau der Mauer wurde das Brandenburger Tor während der Wende in der DDR am 22. Dezember 1989 unter dem Jubel von mehr als 100.000 Menschen wieder geöffnet. Die Sperranlagen wurden danach vollständig beseitigt. In der Silvesternacht 1989/1990 waren Zuschauer auf das Tor geklettert und hatten diverse Anbauteile der Quadriga (z. B. das Zaumzeug) entwendet. Die folgende Untersuchung zeigte jedoch weit gravierendere Schäden: Seit dem Mauerbau war nichts für den Erhalt der Quadriga getan worden und etliche innere Teile aus Stahl waren durchgerostet. Die Quadriga wurde deshalb umgehend demontiert und erhielt bei der folgenden Restaurierung auch das Eiserne Kreuz und den Adler zurück. Die Kosten der Instandhaltung belaufen sich jährlich auf 200.000 Euro. Das Tor (insbesondere der Sandstein) wurde nach langer Vernachlässigung und wegen deutlicher Umweltschäden umfassend von der Stiftung Denkmalschutz Berlin saniert und nach einer 22-monatigen Restaurierung am 3. Oktober 2002 feierlich wieder enthüllt.

Berlin, Brandenburger Tor

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The fall of the Wall

The fall of the Wall

Manfred Matthies
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