One Resident’s Observations

Klaus-Peter Elle is a born-and-bred native of Berlin. Born in 1952 in the Wedding district, he spent most of his life in the neighborhood around Bernauer Strasse. His father was a film projectionist at the VOX-Cinema that was on the West Berlin side of Bernauer Strasse. The movie theater was not only an attraction for his son. Many East Berliners were able to see movies there that were not shown in the East German cinemas. Klaus-Peter Elle’s grandparents and some of his relatives lived on the east side of the city. That is how, as a young boy, he got to know the two very different worlds on both sides of the city. The family was separated when the Wall was built in August 1961. Klaus-Peter Elle and his parents were not able to visit their relatives in the East again until December 1963. The visit was made possible by the first Permit Agreement negotiated between East Germany and the West Berlin Senate. Despite the many difficulties, Klaus-Peter Elle was able to maintain contact with his relatives over the years. He finished his university studies and began work as a development engineer for telecommunications.

Klaus-Peter Elle had lived with his family on Bernauer Strasse since 1974. He could see the border strip from his balcony and observe the border guards on duty because the watchtower on Strelitzer Strasse stood right in front of his building. Consequently, he was also able to see the fall of the Wall and the demolition of the border fortifications close up. In 1989 he began documenting with film and photos the situation at the Wall and the changes at the border.

Klaus-Peter Elle currently works as a freelance consultant for orientation and change processes.

Maria Nooke

Tearing down the watchtower at Strelitzer Strasse

Video filmed from Klaus-Peter Elle’s apartment, June 1990

Klaus-Peter Elle

Klaus-Peter Elle, photo: private

Vox-Kino an der Bernauer Straße, um 1961

Vox-Cinema on Bernauer Strasse, around 1961, unknown photographer, Berlin Wall Memorial


Observing the border guards

From an oral history interview, May 8, 2008, Berlin Wall Memorial (in German)