From the Invalidenfriedhof, with a protected part of the Berlin Wall.
THE INVALIDEN- FRIEDHOF.
WATCH TOWER MEMORIAL.
The Invalidenfriedhof (The Graveyard of Invalids): located between Sharnhorst Street (main entrance) and the Spandauer Boat Canal. Entrance to the cemetery also possible from the path along the canal.
The Watch Tower: Kieler Strasse 2 (immediately north of the Invalidenfriedhof).
Open March-October: 12:00-17:00. Contact Jürgen Liftin. Tel.: +49 (0)30/23 62 61 83. Mobile: +49 (0)163/379 72 90 (Jürgen speaks only German).
The watch tower is also a memorial to Günter Liftin, killed by the DDR transport police as he tried to flee to West Berlin.
A protected part of the Berlin Wall. In the background, the old white-red brick cemetery wall which demarcated the cemetery from the canal. It functioned as a parallel wall at this location. The area between the walls was described as “no man’s land” or “the death strip”.
A board at the Invalidenfriedhof provides information on the first victim of the Berlin Wall, Günter Liftin. He was shot by the DDR transport police as he tried to escape from East to West Berlin only 11 days after the first wall was constructed.
The protected watch tower, Kieler Strasse 2. Also a memorial to Günter Liftin, the first person to be shot by the DDR police while attempting to cross the wall.
A TRANQUIL SITE WITH AN HISTORIC ATMOSPHERE
The Graveyard of Invalids was originally a cemetery for the nearby hospital for disabled soldiers, founded after the Napoleonic war in 1813.
The cemetery was closed in 1951 and nearly destroyed by the East German border fortifications that ran along the Spandauer Boat Canal. Much of the cemetery formed the border with the “death strip”, the “no man’s land” between the two parallel walls. A part of the western concrete wall is preserved and can be seen at the cemetery. Two hundred tombs and gravestones survived both the Allied attack on Berlin during the Second World War and the later DDR border installations.
A WATCH TOWER. MEMORIAL TO GÜNTER LIFTIN.
The watch tower is located at Kieler Strasse just 100 meters north of the Graveyard of Invalids (follow the path along the canal). The tower is surrounded by new buildings – a good way to protect the site’s historical value and atmosphere instead of removing or demolishing the tower. It is also a memorial to Günter Liftin. He was a tailor and member of the illegal branch of the West German Christian Democrats.
Günter Liftin was the first person to be shot by East German police while attempting to cross the wall. This was on August 24, 1961, only 11 days after the wall was erected. Günter Liftin’s brother, Jürgen Liftin, founded the organization behind the memorial.