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Originally published Saturday, February 25, 2012 at 7:00 PM

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East meets West at Berlin Wall Memorial

The wall, built in the early 1960s by the East German regime, divided streets and buildings, families and friends.

Hit the Wall

The Berlin Wall Memorial includes part of the wall, a research center and exhibits: www.berliner-mauer-gedenkstaette.de/en/.

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IN THE HEART of Berlin, at a remnant of the grim wall that once cleaved the city, visitors wander along the barrier, even passing a camera through a hole to snap photos on both sides.

Decades ago, anyone getting so close to the Berlin Wall could have been shot.

The wall, built in the early 1960s by the East German regime, split the city between communist East Germany and capitalist West Germany. Built to prevent East Germans escaping and guarded by shoot-to-kill East German soldiers, it divided streets and buildings, families and friends.

The Berlin Wall was the concrete symbol of the Cold War tensions between the United States and Soviet Union and their respective allies. It came tumbling down after the political reunification of Germany in 1990.

Berlin became, once again, a single city — now with tourists' hands stretching through the wall.

Kristin R. Jackson is The Seattle Times' NWTraveler editor.

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