Before World War II, Potsdamer Platz was one of the busiest squares in all of Europe. It reached its pinnacle in the 1920s and ‘30s and, according to Wikipedia, “It was a key location that helped to symbolize Berlin; it was known worldwide, and a legend grew up around it. It represented the geographical center of the city, the meeting place of five of its busiest streets in a star-shaped intersection deemed the transport hub of the entire continent.”
As with much of the rest of Berlin, Potsdamer Platz was laid waste during the late war bombing raids. It remained a desolate, isolated area during the post-war years and was completely leveled and divided in two when the Berlin Wall went up in August 1961.
Barbed wire and tank traps were set up cutting through Potsdamer Platz prior to construction of the wall.
After the wall went up, a platform was built to allow Berliners to look over to the East where many had relatives and close friends who hadn’t been able to get over to West Berlin before the Wall went up. I note in my novel, McCurry’s War, that “Potsdamer Platz had become a potent symbol for the distress Berliners felt over the division of their country.”
More often than not, all they were able to see were the heavily armed Volkspolizei. The Volkspolizei, or more commonly known as vopos, were hated by West Berliners as a symbol of the heavy handed repression in the East.
Next stop, the Geisterbahnhof, or ghost stations of the U-Bahn that were created by the construction of the Wall.