The Berlin Wall Foundation unites five historical sites: the Marienfelde Refugee Center Museum, the East Side Gallery, the Berlin Wall Memorial, the Günter Litfin Memorial and the Parliament of Trees Against Violence and War. It is committed to setting up a memorial site where once Checkpoint Charlie was located. All of the Foundation’s historical sites are central memorial sites reminding their visitors of the division of Berlin and Germany. They have all arisen from civic engagement: these origins are the basis of the Foundation’s development.
The Berlin Wall Foundation acts in the interests of the general public. It preserves the architectural remains and traces of division which exist at these historical sites, conveys their history in the context of the Cold War and enables the victims to be commemorated. This is its official mandate, which it fulfils through its exhibitions, mediation services and events, its research and work with eyewitnesses as well as its collections.
Based on the historical sites, the Foundation’s work focuses on the history of the Berlin Wall and the effects of the division of Germany. Its locations enable a differentiated discussion oriented towards contemporary issues which goes beyond historical issues and looks at borders and border regimes, migration, the rule of law, the individual’s scope for action and human rights issues. The historical sites illustrate the serious social effects of authoritarian forms of rule and the value of a pluralistic society.
We regard the sites we have been entrusted with as places of remembrance and experience, as open places to encounter others, exchange and discuss ideas. Our programme invites people to carry out (self-) reflection and dialogue. Those who are interested can discover contemporary history in both its local and global dimension. We open spaces in which they can meet other people with all their experiences and come to terms with different images of history, whereby we focus on both visitors on site as well as those in the digital world.
Questions regarding history must continuously be reformulated. In the exchange with research institutes and those which deal with historical issues as well as museums and memorial sites, we integrate new questions and scientific findings in our work. Furthermore, it is our task to develop and spread these ourselves. Through its intensive research, collection, eyewitness and mediation work and its diverse experience in dealing with places of remembrance, the Foundation has developed competences which it would like to expand and pass on at an international level.
Offers oriented to recipients follow different routes to findings, an exchange of ideas and the shaping of opinions. We want to inspire our visitors, irrespective of their age, for history and the stories behind it and thus promote life-long learning. We want to work in a multi-perspective manner, using dialogue, and invest in the (further) development of innovative formats. We want to inform and inspire our visitors, and see ourselves as an organisation which is also on a continuous learning curve. For this reason, we promote participatory and collaborative ways of working. We are extremely interested in learning about your experience and your knowledge, and our aim is to integrate this in our work.
We are aware of the fact that the Berlin Wall Foundation is embedded in a historical-political narrative. This goes back to the period of the Cold War and has been shaped during the past 30 years by East German civil rights campaigners and victims’ groups, whereby numerous perspectives have not been taken into consideration enough or excluded by means of existing narratives. We want to change this and thus formerly marginalised points of view will be taken up more strongly in all areas of our work so as to convey a more comprehensive picture of contemporary history and, therefore, a more complex understanding of the world. This expansion may reveal ambivalences and controversies and we want to moderate and mediate here. In this way, we will contribute towards ensuring that diverse narratives have an impact on the discourse of a memorial culture.
The public is extremely interested in historical sites for which we are responsible; they attract many people. At the same time, they are not equally open to everyone: different kinds of barriers prevent people from visiting the historical sites and discovering them for themselves. We are striving to reduce such barriers, which include both structural as well as social and communicative ones. Our mission is to achieve a conscious and respectful interaction with all visitors which increasingly relies on forms of co-determination and active participation.
Taking on responsibility
We support an open, democratically constituted society and co-existence in solidarity. Our work stands for a respectful co-existence and opposes all forms of individual and group exclusion and misanthropy. In the discussion and exchange on (socio-) political issues of the past, present and future, it is important to us to draw attention to the responsibility of each individual for both themselves and society as a whole. For this reason, we strengthen the formation of a differentiated historical consciousness in society and assist in establishing the value of political participation as an integral part of social responsibility.
The Berlin Wall Foundation was established as a foundation under public law by legislation passed on September 17, 2008. The purpose of the foundation is to document and provide information about the history of the Berlin Wall and the mass migration from the German Democratic Republic as a part of and contributory factor to German division and the East-West conflict. It also aims to preserve historical sites and authentic relics and to provide for a dignified commemoration of the victims of Communist tyranny.
The aim of the foundation’s work at the historical sites is to promote dialogue and democracy education and to provide new perspectives. Its work is supported by a foundation council and a scientific advisory board.
Since its establishment, the foundation has overseen the Berlin Wall Memorial on Bernauer Strasse and the Marienfelde Refugee Center Museum. The Günter Litfin Memorial in the watchtower of the GDR border troops at Kieler Eck was added in 2017. In 2018 the foundation assumed responsibility for the East Side Gallery, the longest preserved section of the Berlin Wall between Berlin’s Ostbahnhof station and the Oberbaum Bridge.
The establishment of the Berlin Wall Foundation was a first step towards implementing the 2005 memorial concept of the Berlin Senate and federal government.
You can look at the Berlin Wall Foundation’s annual reports here (in German). They document the work methods, tasks and activities of the sites of the Berlin Wall Foundation.
Our work is supported by two associations, one at the Berlin Wall Memorial and one at the Marienfelde Refugee Center Museum .
To support the work of the Berlin Wall Foundation and help make the operation of its six sites sustainable, you can make a donation to the following account:
Stiftung Berliner Mauer
IBAN DE80 1009 0000 8847 016001
On request we can provide a confirmation of your contribution (donation receipt).
Thank you for your support!
Stiftung Berliner Mauer
Bernauer Straße 111
Telefon: +49 (0)30 213085-162
E-Mail: info [at] stiftung-berliner-mauer.de
Declaration of the Many
We are part of the initiative THE MANY