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Reichstag and Gouvernment buildings in Berlin
Band des Bundes and Reichstag © iStock.com, Foto: savoia

The Parliament of Trees

Green memorial site in the “Band des Bundes” (Band of the Federation)

16 federal states, 16 trees, one memorial site: the Parliament of Trees is an inconspicuous yet poignant symbol of German unity.

There is a slightly unconventional garden in the middle of Berlin. The park bench there is not for relaxing but for taking a look at the irregularly sized granite slabs by the pathway and a painted wall that encloses the garden.

It is only a second glance that shows you that this is a memorial site – the Parliament of Trees Against Violence and War. The artist and environmental activist Ben Wagin created it on the former border strip of the Berlin Wall in 1990. A total of 58 authentic parts of the Wall were used and given an artistic treatment. The granite slabs list the names of the 258 victims of the Wall. The number of those who died at the internal German border is listed for each year from the construction of the Wall until its fall.

Mankind and nature on the former border strip

The heart of the memorial site is a square of 16 trees that were planted in 1990 by the 16 German state presidents – the Parliament of Trees. Memorial stones, testimonies of the Berlin border facilities, flower beds, pictures and texts complete the installation. It not only remembers those who died on the Wall but also examines the relationship between mankind and nature. This is illustrated by painted statements such as “The Foundation of a common European home has to be an intact environment”.

Wall memorial in Marie-Elisabeth-Lüders-Haus

The Parliament of Trees had to be marginally reduced in size for the construction of the Marie-Elisabeth-Lüders-Haus that also lies on former no man’s land. A round room in the Marie-Elisabeth-Lüders-Haus remembers the history of the location. Wagin secured parts of the Wall that follow its original route.

The Parliament of Trees is on the east bank of the Spree, opposite the Reichstag, and can be reached via Schiffbauerdamm. It is part of the “Band des Bundes” that stretches from the Reichstag to the Chancellor's Office via Paul-Löbe-Haus.