Berlin (dpa) - With a central commemoration on the 59th anniversary of the building of the Berlin Wall, the victims of the division of Germany were remembered.

In the memorial on Bernauer Straße, Minister of State for Culture Monika Grütters (CDU) and Berlin's Governing Mayor Michael Müller (SPD) laid wreaths on the memorial. The mother of Chris Gueffroy, Karin Gueffroy, the last refugee from the GDR to be shot, came to the memorial on the former death strip. Because of the corona pandemic, according to the Mauer Foundation, only 20 guests were allowed to come this year.

Grütters emphasized in a communication that the victims of the partition would never be forgotten. The Berlin Wall was the symbol of a deadly border regime. The SED regime violated fundamental human rights and gave people no space for freedom, democracy and the rule of law.

On August 13, 1961, the SED leadership under Walter Ulbricht began building the wall. The 155 kilometer long bulwark cut through Berlin for more than 28 years. The German-German division did not end until the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989.

According to the Stasi records authority, the GDR was facing ruin in the early 1960s, as thousands upon thousands of people fled. In view of the dire situation, the SED leadership did not know what to do other than lock up its own people. An insurmountable wall should stop the escape and secure power for the SED.

According to scientific research, at least 140 people died in Berlin after the Wall was built as a result of the GDR border regime. A study that found at least 327 people dead on the 1400-kilometer German-German border was criticized. Parts of the research project are to be reviewed.

On the occasion of the memorial day, Berlin's Prime Minister Müller warned that the memory of bondage and dictatorship should be kept alive. There is a shared responsibility to protect freedom and democracy and to defend it against new nationalism across Europe. “We remember the victims of the GDR's injustice regime because they show that a no to arbitrariness, oppression and dictatorship is not pointless. Your legacy is our freedom and our mission. "

For the foundation to come to terms with the SED dictatorship, the wall was the most visible sign of the communist tyranny in Eastern Germany and Eastern Europe. At the same time, it was the globally visible moral and political declaration of bankruptcy of a system that was only able to prevent people from fleeing to the West through isolation, repression and persecution, according to managing director Anna Kaminsky.

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