The starting point of the tour was the Bernauer Street Museum, which symbolises the division between East and West Germany. Clearly, the Berlin Wall is the most brutal representation of the restrictions and repression that prevented people from moving freely. However, we must not forget the occasions when people tried to scale the wall and escape. Soldiers were allowed to shoot if there was no other way to stop the refugees.
We also visited the Unweltbibliothek (Environmental Library), where in the 1980s dissidents and independent thinkers formed opposition groups with different aims but united by one value: freedom for everyone. This scene was closely linked to environmental activism, but it was also supported by the church, which had a special status in the GDR.
Imagining the dark side of the “brilliant socialist revolution”, we visited the Stasi, the Ministry of State Security, the space of repression, revolution and memory. In short, it is the state machinery that represses and controls citizenship: rented apartments, reporting and collecting “files” on people, imprisoning and torturing people. There were thousands of Stasi workers, many of whom are still alive and have families – this is not easy to erase from “public memory”.
Next we went to the East side Gallery, an open-air gallery over a kilometre long in Berlin, covered with works by graffiti artists from all over the world (118 artists from 21 countries). It is probably the longest piece of wall in Berlin.
Our tour was led by the charismatic Elvita Rakštīte, who has many years of experience as a guide in Riga, Latvia, and extensive knowledge of the Soviet period in the Baltic States to be compared with East Germany history.
The tour took place on 17 July for a group of 10 people and will be turned into an online tour via the ActionBound platform.