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Annett Gröschner and Arwed Messmer Present The Other View: The Early Berlin Wall
©BArch_DVH 60 Bild-GR 33-09-01 und BArch, DVH 60 Bild-GR 33-09-03, o. Ang.; digital reconstruction and interpretation Arwed Messmer.

BERLIN.- In our collective memory, the wall is a smooth concrete structure topped with a pipe. But in 1966, the almost insurmountable border consisted of ruins, building walls, wire fences, tangled barbed wire, and horizontal concrete strips, layered on top of one another.

On the fiftieth anniversary marking the erection of the Berlin Wall, Annett Gröschner and Arwed Messmer present The Other View: The Early Berlin Wall as both a book and as an exhibition (August 6–October 3, 2011, Unter den Linden 40, 10117 Berlin). The unique panoramas depict the course of the Berlin Wall through Berlin’s city center from the perspective of those who built it.

In the early 1990s, while researching at Potsdam’s Militärisches Zwischenarchiv, the photographer from West Germany and the writer from East Germany discovered a veritable treasure trove: a cardboard box full of negatives. The images show the Wall from the eastern perspective, and they were subject to the highest secrecy until the end of the regime.

In 1966, the border troops of the GDR photographed the entire 43.7-kilometer course of the wall through the city (from Treptow to Pankow, and only from the East Berlin side). The intent was to document the poor state of the border to West Berlin, which consisted of the most various materials. The films were developed and then forgotten…

The exhibition and book project on the early Berlin Wall seeks above all to convey the atmospheric feel of the division for both sides of Berlin. Taking pictures of the border from the Eastern side was strictly prohibited for private individuals, and was subject to heavy punishment. The view from East Berlin towards the West is not only new and unusual, it also clearly reveals a strangely disparate West Berlin that by no means seems to correspond to the myth of the “Golden West.”

The file, consisting of 1,200 individual negatives, is shown in 324 panorama photographs that Arwed Messer prepared digitally, and depicts the entire course of the wall through Berlin’s city center. The panoramas in the exhibition are 250 meters long and given captions that refer to events that take place at respective locations long the wall in the mid 1960s, researched and described by Annett Gröschner.

From August 8–12, 2011, a theme week on the Berlin Wall will be held in cooperation with Brecht-Haus, featuring readings and podium discussions.

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