Traenenpalast – Palace of Tears in Berlin

The Tränenpalast (eng. “Palace of Tears”) is the Berlin colloquialism for the former border crossing station at the Berlin Friedrichstrasse railway station. The name comes from the many tearful “Good-Bye’s” that took place in front of the building, where visiting citizens of the divided city had to say farewell to their East-German relatives that were not permitted to travel to the Western part of Berlin.

Although the Berlin Friedrichstrasse railway station was located entirely in the former Soviet sector of Berlin, as a result of the Berlin Wall, some of the Berlin S-Bahn and the Berlin U-Bahn lines stopping at the station were only accessible from West-Berlin, and West-Berlin travelers could use the Berlin Friedrichstrasse railway station to transfer between those trains, or to cross into East Germany. The Tränenpalast was build after the amount of traffic and the constraints of the lower level of the Friedrichstrasse station main building made it necessary to expand.

The building was used only for westbound border crossings, with separate check points for citizens of West-Berlin, citizens of West-Germany, Foreigners, Diplomats, transit travelers and East-German citizens. On the door was a guard station to separate people permitted to cross the border from those ineligible, leading to many tearful “Good-Bye”s in front of the building. This gave the building the questionable moniker Tränenpalast (“Palace of Tears”).

The extensive checks in the building included three individual passport checks, customs control, waiting rooms (since the crossing could take anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours), offices to register and record people crossing the border, and a counter for visa fees and the (mandatory) currency exchange. After the border check, passengers would enter a underground pathway that lead to the underground station of the Berlin Friedrichstrasse railway station.


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