School pupils from western Germany have been discovering the Berlin Wall on a cycling tour. Their route took them through areas where prior to 1989 they would have been shot on sight.
School pupils from western Germany have been discovering the Berlin Wall by bike. Their route took them through areas where, prior to 1989, they would have been shot on sight.
Their teachers say German students know less about the history of the Wall than those from other countries.
Built in 1961, the 155-kilometre barrier carved a brutal path through the centre of the city. By the time of its fall in 1989, more than 140 people had died attempting to cross it.
Andrea Künstle, a 51-year-old photographer and tour guide, leads the 10th grade pupils on a bike route along the Wall. The students first stop at the Bösebrücke, a symbolic bridge which marked the division between the Communist East and the Allied West. Here, a plaque on the ground, covered by autumn leaves, shows the time and date of the fall of the Wall.
Künstle said that it was important young people visit the Wall to know more about what previous generations, particularly those living under East German Communism, had to endure.
"If they had no relatives or friends from their parents or grandparents in the East, they don't really know anything. They have no feeling for what it must have been like living with such a division," she said.
"Unfortunately, it is also the case that German students have much less of an idea about it [the history of the Wall] than foreign guests. Austrians know a lot as do people from Switzerland. But German students know far too little."
Susanne Luhr, a history teacher accompanying the students on their ride, said she believed there wasn't enough education about the Wall in some German schools.
"It always irritates me, but it's just like that, it's not their world. They were born much later and where we come from in the south west [of Germany] you wouldn't have had many points of contact with East Germany or East Berlin. If you don't have any relatives there, it's natural for the students [to think] that Germany belonged together. You have to teach them that it was different for a long time."