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GDR watch tower at Potsdamer Platz, Berlin
GDR watch tower at Potsdamer Platz © Getty Images, Foto: matremors

Watchtower at Potsdamer Platz

From the viewpoint of a GDR soldier

Take up the viewpoint of a GDR soldier who used to secure the border on the watchtower on Potsdamer Platz.

One of the last relics from the GDR era can be found in a small side street on Potsdamer Platz – the type “BT 6” watchtower. A concrete exterior, round at the base and octangular above. Two iron ladders on the inside take you up the few metres to tree-top level and once you are there you can look out through the small windows just as the border soldiers used to.

History of the watchtower at Potsdamer Platz

The so-called “panoramic observation tower” was part of the border troops’ base and of the Ministry for State Security. It was used for monitoring the border strip as well as the ministries close by. The solid, type “BT 6” watchtower with rifle loopholes was built from 1966. At the end of the GDR era, there were more than 200 of these watchtowers on the Berlin border.
The watchtower at Potsdamer Platz was erected in 1971. The shooting range stretched from the Tiergarten to the Brandenburg Gate. The tower was manned at all times by two border patrol soldiers working eight-hour watches in cramped conditions.

Today, the watchtower is the last remaining one of its kind. It was listed as a site of historical importance in 2001 and renovation work began 10 years later. Thanks to the work of volunteers, you can view the tower today on Erna-Berger-Straße. You can fine the opening hours and prices on the page of the Initiative Berlin Wall Exhibition:

Attractions close to the watchtower at Potsdamer Platz

It is not only the watchtower at Potsdamer Platz that commemorates the partition of Germany. Just one street away, on the premises of the Topography of Terror, a 200-metre stretch of the Berlin Wall has been preserved. These other sights are also just a few minutes away on foot:

Our blog editors have visited the watchtower at Potsdamer Platz in person: The Last Watchtower of Its Kind.

Opening hours

Monday 11:00 – 17:00
Tuesday 11:00 – 17:00
Wednesday 11:00 – 17:00
Thursday 11:00 – 17:00
Friday 11:00 – 17:00
Saturday 11:00 – 17:00
Sunday 11:00 – 17:00