The Berlin passport and customs office known during the Cold War as the “Palace of Tears” was reopened this week by Chancellor Angela Merkel as a museum and memorial dedicated to documenting the separation of East and West Germany.
The “Treanenpalast” was the part of the busy Friedrichstrasse train station where papers were inspected during the 1960s. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the building became a nightclub. It will now contain many of the items it did when East Germany was still communist: cubicles, stamps and officious-looking office materials.
Merkel, who grew up in East Germany, said during the ribbon cutting ceremony that she had waved goodbye to her grandmother at the Traenenplast many times because many of her family members were West German.
The new exhibition tries to tell individual stories about immigration and to explain the social ramifications of the partition of Berlin to both Germans and tourists, for whom Checkpoint Charlie, a different crossing long associated with international intrigue has long been a major attraction.