The Tränenpalast (English: "Palace of Tears") is the Berlin colloquialism for the former border crossing station at the Berlin Friedrichstraße station, where East Germans said goodbye to their families and visitors going back to West Germany. From 1962 to 1989, the Tränenpalast was the central terminal for travellers between East and West Germany. The building was used only for westbound border crossings, with separate checkpoints for citizens of West Berlin, citizens of West Germany, foreigners, diplomats, transit travellers and East German citizens.
The expression Tränenpalast derives from the tearful goodbyes that took place in front of the building, where western visitors of the divided city had to say farewell to their East German relatives that were not permitted to travel to the Western part of Berlin.
Border station during the Berlin Wall
Although the Berlin Friedrichstraße railway station was located entirely in the former Soviet sector of Berlin, as a result of the Berlin Wall, some of the Berlin S-Bahn and the Berlin U-Bahn lines stopping at the station were accessible only from West Berlin. West Berlin travellers could use Friedrichstraße station to transfer between those trains, or to cross into East Germany. The Tränenpalast was built after the amount of traffic and the constraints of the lower level of the Friedrichstraße station main building made it necessary to expand.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the building was used as a nightclub and stage until 2006. Since 1993 the Tränenpalast has been a listed building. The place is a unique symbol for the diverse fates of people on both sides of the border during the time of German separation. Whether arriving in or leaving East Berlin, travellers came to expect harsh, stressful encounters with border guards. Friends and families never knew exactly if they would see each other again.
On 15 September 2011, the Stiftung Haus der Geschichte opened a new permanent exhibition. It aims to remind visitors of the consequences and daily restrictions due to the German separation. Original artefacts, documents, photographs, audio and video recordings illustrate on an exhibition area of 550 square metres the experiences at the check-point. It also gives an overview of the reunification process.
The exhibition was opened by Chancellor Merkel on 14 September 2011. In the first two weeks of its opening, more than 30,000 people visited the Tränenpalast; entrance is free.
During the Cold War
During the Fall of the Berlin Wall
Post German Reunification
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Tränenpalast.|
- "Chronicle of the Berlin Wall" (in German). Chronik-der-mauer.de.
- "Former border station Friedrichstraße" (in German). Berlin.de.
- "Stadtschnellbahn Berlin" (in German). Stadtschnellbahn-berlin.de.
- Official website (German)