Berlin Wall as a Piece of History: Too-Good Riddance?

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BERLIN -- Two decades after they triumphantly tore down the infamous wall that divided their city, Berliners are having some regrets.

The Germans did such a thorough job of demolishing the hated barrier that visitors to the capital have a hard time finding any trace of it. For years, residents were eager to move beyond a painful chapter in Berlin's history and focused on building a new metropolis for a new century.

But as Germany prepares to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the wall's collapse on Nov. 9, many Berliners wish they had left more of the structure intact as a memorial.

"In Berlin, there is history under every stone out there. The most deadly mistake we could make is to get rid of it all or cover it up," said Burkhard Kieker, director of Berlin's tourism bureau, which has tried for years to persuade the city to do more to commemorate the wall. "One mistake was to take away too much of the wall. We did the job in a very German way -- very organized -- and we finished it off, almost completely."

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