The Cold War era, and the Berlin Wall as its worldwide symbol, are of particular importance for German and European 20th century commemorative culture. Visual sources that document the Berlin Wall play a central role in understanding German contemporary history; on the European level, divided Berlin stood and stands above all for the direct confrontation of two power blocs and as a symbol of a divided world. The fall of the Berlin Wall ultimately became the most visible expression of the end of the Cold War in Europe. However, its relevance to the present and the fundamental questions concerning the function and effects of walls and borders in modern societies continue to gain importance. Today, these are once again fundamental questions for European development and the future of society.
The concrete aim of the project is to make previously unknown photographic sources on the Berlin Wall directly available for online use by means of a formal content-related index. Various search options and the legal download option will reduce the hurdles to using primary sources. Target groups include people in schools, in historical and political education, in science and journalism as well as the general public, to whom a stock of freely usable photographs will be made available as open access material. Previously unpublished sources will be made available for historical and civic education as well as for public commemoration so that new and less known aspects of division and living with the Wall can be addressed and authentic sites can be better researched. The use of historical images transcends linguistic barriers, facilitating access throughout Europe.
In terms of content, the selected images will document different aspects relating to the Wall: its phases of development as a physical structure; the border regime with its combination of technical and military surveillance, living with the Wall; and the fall and dismantling of the border fortifications in divided Berlin. In addition, source material will increase public awareness of and help visualize the exact location of the entire Berlin Wall, including the “outer ring.”
The detailed geographical search and view options will allow users to benefit from local reference points more strongly than with other sources. Users could, for example, search specifically for images in their immediate vicinity or visit the actual sites themselves.