I accidentally stumbled upon the East German watchtower on Potsdamer Platz during that weekend when I followed the Lichtgrenze through Berlin. And this was one of the moments where I wondered if I would ever know everything I wanted about Berlin.
Sometimes, I think I know Berlin, and this city can no longer surprise me that easily. But, of course, I’m wrong. Berlin surprises me almost every day.
And this is how I felt when I realized that, hidden in plain sight, there is an East German Watchtower on Potsdamer Platz.
How often did I walk past this street on Potsdamer Platz without thinking about going another block on it?
This East German Watchtower stands so close to Potsdamer Platz that it makes me wonder how many people walk around without even thinking about what stands so close to them.
It sits behind some trees, and you can only notice it until you are right underneath it.
A little bit of history from the East German Watchtower
This East German watchtower on Potsdamer Platz is one of the last historical relics open to the public. Seeing it there, so close to Potsdamer Platz, puts its history into perspective when considering the Berlin Wall.
This panorama observation tower stood between the Brandenburg Gate and Leipziger Platz. It was used as a base for border guards to monitor the former House of Ministries area. It was only in 2001 that this tower was moved to its present location near Stresemannstraße on Potsdamer Platz.
Two soldiers would do eight-hour rounds on the tiny area on top of this watchtower. Since they didn’t know each other, East German rules for this kind of soldier. I imagine how boring it would be to work there. But soldiers kept working and doing their rounds.
The construction of the BT 6 watchtower, the technical name for this East German Watchtower, began in 1966, and by the end of the GDR era, more than 200 of them followed the Berlin Wall. This one is the only one that still stands.
I visited this tower at the end of December 2014, and it was a short but incredible experience. The building is kept by three Berliners who recognized its importance and decided to ensure that it continues to be a reminder of everything surrounding the Berlin Wall.
Visiting the East German Watchtower
When you visit this watchtower, avoid wet days since there is little space to protect the guys that keep the tower open. Opening hours are typically between 11:00 and 15:00, from Monday to Sunday.
In 2014, we paid €3,50 for the 20 minutes we stayed there taking pictures and listening to the history behind this Cold War relic, and it was worth it.
East German Watchtower on Potsdamer Platz
Erna-Berger-Straße — 10117 Berlin