The stretch of wall found by Christian Bormann runs along an 80-metre stretch between two train stations in the Pankow district in the northeast of the city.
On photographs, the Y-shaped metal joints, through which barbed wire was once suspended, give an eerie sense of the purpose the barrier once had. Parallel to that stand the posts through which electrified wires and tripwires ran, all assuring that people trapped in east Germany had no means of escape.
According to Bormann, his discovery is “the last remaining piece of the original wall”, which was hastily erected by communist authorities on August 13th 1961.
Just two months after East German leader Walter Ulbricht declared that “nobody has the intention of building a wall”, the communists surprised the world by building a barrier that split east Berliners from their neighbours in the west.
Before they had time to build the finished version – complete with death strips and watch towers – the East Germans cobbled together a barrier out of rolls of barbed wire and by fortifying pre-existing walls.
The section discovered by Bormann is one such example of this, the historian writes on his blog. The East Germans used the remains of houses that had been destroyed during intense fighting in the Second World War. By bricking up the gaps between them and blowing up the cellars so as to stop people tunnelling underneath, they secured a stretch of the border between the Schönholz S-Bahn station and the Schönholz freight yard.
When the communists came to build the permanent wall, they built it in a slightly different location. And so, when it came to demolishing the structure at the end of the Cold War, it appears that this original section was forgotten about.
While Bormann argues that this is the last remaining section of the original Berliner Mauer, Die Welt begs to differ. The national newspaper points out that two other sections are still partially standing, one at Oranienburger Chaussee and one in the Rosenthal district.
Bormann claims that he has known about the hidden section of the wall since 1999 and had always kept it secret. But he decided to go public with the information in order to ensure that the structure doesn’t get demolished by developers. He has called on the Pankow district authorities to protect it as a historical monument.