From walled city to world city

In 1988, 16-year-old East Berlin soccer player Stefan Beinlich was dropped from the youth team of his club BFC Dynamo. The official reason was cardiac arrhythmia. But in fact Beinlich had relatives in West Germany – and the top East German football officials found that suspect. Then the Wall fell – ushering in a major change in Bienlich’s private life as well. Now he could play again – first for a club in Berlin-Pankow, then in England and later for Berlin’s Hertha BSC, and finally for the German national team. Just as the fall of the Wall on 9 November 1989 and Germany’s subsequent reunification radically altered the biographies of millions of people, they also changed the face of Berlin.

Since then, the old centres from Potsdamer Platz to the government quarter (“Band des Bundes”) were and are being reborn and new architectural icons created. At the same time, former peripheral areas such as Prenzlauer Berg or Kreuzberg have developed into modern inner city districts. Abandoned areas along the Wall became valuable building land, and reunification suddenly created vast spaces for development. While the Wall still stood, Tempelhof airport was an Allied air base, but after the airfield was closed in 2008, it was transformed into one of Berlin’s largest and most impressive parks.

Once the symbol of the Cold War, Berlin rapidly developed into a young and cosmopolitan city. Today’s Berlin is enriched by its chequered history– ranging from early glory to later tragedy with almost everything in between. Uniquely the world over, the cityscape can be read as a narrative of 20th century history. In the German Historical Museum, you can discover a detailed picture of Berlin’s transformation into a global European city.

Read more stories about the Berlin Wall in the brochure Berlin Wall by visitBerlin. Read more