Blooming Memory

Probably the most unusual garden in the city, is hidden in the government district in the center of Berlin. The so-called parliament of trees on the banks of the Spree, directly opposite the Reichstag building, is not just there to linger: it is a living symbol against war and violence.

Here, on the former strip of the Berlin Wall, the people who lost their lives on the inner-German border are given a place to be remembered. Wall remains and commemorative plaques keep their memories alive. The park was laid out by the artist and environmental activist Ben Wagin shortly after reunification in 1990. Sustainability was important to him throughout his life - in his works he always pursued the aim of preserving nature in the cities. He has also succeeded here: in the center are 16 trees that were planted in the year they were created by the 16 all-German prime ministers of the old and new federal states - including a ginkgo, a honey locust and a common beech. Even if not all 16 original trees have been preserved to this day, a monument has grown out of Wagin's garden over the years, which is touching because of its silent power. Whether the treetops are lush green or mute autumnal colors, their presence exudes hope. Ben Wagin defended this special place against any construction project, he took care of it himself and constantly redesigned it: You can now discover 120 different types of plants and temporary art installations here – most recently (until July 2022) an exhibition led by female artists who had come to Berlin after fleeing from Ukraine.

Since Wagnis passed in 2021, the garden has received ongoing support from the Berlin Wall Foundation. As a tree outlives a human lifetime, our commitment to peace should also span generations. "Whoever plants trees takes root," wrote former Bundestag President Rita Süssmuth on one of the pieces of wall in the Parliament of Trees. How right she is about that?

Parliament of trees against war and violence
Schiffbauerdamm, next to house number 40 (Federal Press Conference)
Sun 12-5pm

"The Parliament of Trees against War and Violence, created by Ben Wagin in 1990, is the last authentic remnant of the GDR border regime in the government district and a dynamic, ever-changing place of nature, memory and art. As an extremely unusual one, however integral part of Berlin's memorial landscape, it also shows how civic engagement can preserve a historic site in the long term."

Prof. Dr. Axel Klausmeier, Director of the Berlin Wall Foundation

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