A Virtual Berlin Wall, Or The Cold War as Guided Tour

01020117025200 In Der Spiegel Online:

In the early 1990s, the Wall was hacked away by souvenir hunters and parts of it were sold or donated to raise money for charity. Most of it was ground down into 310,000 tons of gravel for building roads to reunite the eastern and western halves of the city. Millions of people have a piece — real or fake — of the Berlin Wall gathering dust in their homes. The United Nations, the CIA and the Vatican all own a piece of Wall.

The rush to tear down the hated landmark in the 1990s was understandable, but Berlin’s government has realized that the city may have been overzealous in ridding itself of what remains its biggest tourist attraction. It has launched an information drive to help keep memories of the Wall alive among Germans and to raise awareness of Cold War division among younger generations who have only known a united Germany.

As part of that campaign, Berlin introduced an interactive multimedia guide on May 1 in the form of a hand-sized computer which traces the path of the Wall and provides GPS navigation to help pedestrians and cyclists find the few intact stretches of the Wall that remain.

The device, similar to those handed out in museums, uses audio and video footage to tell the story of the Wall from when it was hastily erected in August 1961 to stop an exodus of people from Soviet-held communist East Berlin. The Wall turned West Berlin, controlled by the United States, Britain and France, into an isolated enclave inside East Germany.