Near Potsdamer Platz and Leipziger Platz, visitors interested in history will find a special relic from past times: the last preserved original GDR watchtower of the BT6 type, from which GDR soldiers once watched over the inner-German border and looked for republic refugees. The panoramic observation tower is slightly hidden in Erna-Berger-Straße. You can climb the concrete tower, which is round at the bottom and octagonal at the top, up to the height of the treetops via two iron ladders on the inside. Once you have reached the top, you look through small window hatches onto the former border area in the middle of Berlin.
Wall towers with an all-round view
The original GDR watchtower (in Erna-Berger-Straße) is the last preserved wall border tower of this type in Berlin and was built here in 1971. The area around the "House of Ministries" and the border strip was monitored here. The mushroom-shaped, octagonal watchtower with observation hatches and embrasures of the type BT 6 was built starting in 1966. More than 200 of these towers stood along the inner-German border in Berlin by the end of the GDR era. The equipment in the towers was sparse: besides uncomfortable seats, the inventory included an air filter system, various maps, a service book, signalling devices, and weapon stands. A communication line guaranteed the connection to the border network and for emergencies there was rescue equipment and abseiling aids. On the roof there was a swivelling searchlight, which could be controlled by remote control.
The perspective of the border guards
The working conditions in the observation tower - called the "B-tower" - were tough. The tower was manned around the clock by two soldiers who formed the "alarm group". Each shift in the narrow tower turret lasted eight hours. Due to a lack of stability, the tower was rebuilt in 1972 and the cramped pulpit was replaced by somewhat more spacious octagonal rooms. What has remained is the eerie atmosphere and the oppressive view of what used to be no man's land. In 2001, the wall tower was put under preservation as the last of its kind. Due to a private initiative, the tower has been maintained and open to the public since 2012. The aim is to raise visitors' awareness of the conditions on the inner-German border during the GDR era and to preserve a piece of German history. Today, volunteers grant three to four visitors simultaneous access to the viewing point where they can see the perspective of a former GDR border guard.
Explore Berlin with one ticket
The Berlin WelcomeCard is Berlin's most popular tourist ticket and has already been sold over 12 million times. It offers discounts of up to 50% on entrance fees and short waiting times at the entrance to more than 200 attractions. If you would like to save time and money during your stay in Berlin, the Berlin WelcomeCard is a good choice. With this ticket, you can enjoy free travel on buses and trains on the public transport system, either in the AB or ABC zones.
Kurz & Knapp