Berlin Wall

Along Once Bloody Border, a Quarter-Century Harvest of Tranquility

Two men harvesting rye in the near the Chapel of Reconcilation, located in the former death strip of the Berlin Wall. Source: DPA
Two men harvesting rye near the Chapel of Reconciliation, located in the former death strip of the Berlin Wall.

Harvest season is under way across Germany, only this is no ordinary harvest. This plot of land lies on Bernauer Strasse in the middle of Berlin’s former death strip, the once uninhabited stretch of land that ran along the Wall dividing East from West.

The 1,000-square meter plot, located next to the Chapel of Reconciliation, was being plowed on Friday by what looked like the world’s smallest combine harvester. It was kicking up plenty of dust as volunteers pulled the straw out of the harvester and placed it into small sacks.

Tourists gawked at this strange occurrence from the sidelines, no doubt thinking to themselves: “These efficient Germans, they really do use every single inch of land!”

Of course, this space is not really a large farming operation. The harvest is a highly symbolic action. The rye has been planted along the once deadly border between East and West Berlin, on either side of the chapel that also sits in the strip of land, where East German patrols once had orders to shoot anyone who tried to flee to the West. For nine years now, the rye has instead represented a new life-force growing in the space that used to bring misery to millions.

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