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03/02/2010

Border Marker Pole (Barber Pole), Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR), German Democratic Republic (GDR), Berlin, Germany


This is a photo of an old Border Marker Pole, to mark the Inner German border (innerdeutsche Grenze or deutsch–deutsche Grenze, initially also Zonengrenze), the frontier between the
German Democratic Republic (GDR, East Germany) and the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG, West Germany) from 1949 to 1990. Not including the similar but physically separate Berlin Wall, the border was 1,381 kilometres long and ran from the Baltic Sea to Czechoslovakia.
The actual line between West and East Germany was located on the far side of the outer strip. It was marked by granite stones (Grenzsteine) with the letters "DDR" carved on the west-facing edge. Around 2,600 distinctive East German concrete "barber pole" (Grenzsäule or Grenzpfähle) markers were installed just behind the border line at intervals of about 500 metres. A metal East German coat of arms, the Staatsemblem, was fixed to the side of the marker that faced West Germany.
On the West German side, there were no fortifications of any kind, nor even any patrol roads in most areas. Warning signs (Grenzschilder) with messages such as Achtung! Zonengrenze! ("Danger! Zonal border!") or Halt! Hier Zonengrenze ("Stop! The zonal border is here") notified visitors of the presence of the border. Foreign military personnel were restricted from approaching the border to avoid clashes or other unwanted incidents. Signs in English and German provided notifications of the distance to the border to discourage accidental crossings. No such restriction applied to Western civilians, who were free to go up to the border line, and there were no physical obstacles to stop their crossing it .

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