As of yesterday, the Berlin Wall has been down longer than it stood. The lines were laid down on August 13, 1961, to separate West Berlin (which was part of free West Germany) from East Berlin and the surrounding Eastern Bloc country. The official fall of the wall occurred 28 years later, on November 9, 1989. The wall was a hated symbol of separation and repression, and was demolished by both citizens and officials of unified Germany until the erstwhile border is barely distinguishable.
Except one small part. Christian Bormann, then a teenager, discovered a part of the original 1961 wall that remained in 1999 in the Pankow neighborhood in northern Berlin. He kept the find to himself for 18 years because he knew if the section was discovered, it would be destroyed. Now he hopes that enough time has passed that the section will be preserved as a reminder and a cautionary tale.
Bormann initially faced scrutiny by authorities and the media over his claim that the 260-foot stretch of the wall — publicized on his blog in mid-January — was once part of the first Berlin Wall, hastily erected in 1961 after East Germans were barred from leaving their country. When East Germany later decided to make the barrier more permanent, it expanded provisional brick walls into massive concrete barriers with watchtowers and mines. Many of the initial parts of the wall were destroyed in the process, but one appears to have survived in Pankow.
Bormann's discovery is now drawing tourists and locals alike, even though the area has since been fenced off for preservation work.
When the first border wall was replaced by more substantial barriers, a section of the enclosed area was corner-cut, which is why this portion of the original wall was left to stand, forgotten in the woods. You can read a translation of Bormann's post here. -via Metafilter
(Image credit: Guido Kunze)