Kaninchenfeld: The Brass Rabbits of Berlin

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Berlin was once divided into East and West Berlin by a massive concrete wall, the infamous Berlin Wall, that created a 155-km-long strip of no mans land. This so called “death strip” on the East German side of the wall was off-limits to people. It was raked with sand and gravel to show footprints, lit with floodlights at night, and guarded by vicious dogs and patrolling soldiers ready to shoot down escapees on sight. While the Berlin Wall succeeded in preventing its human citizens from escaping the communist East Germany, the rabbits had free reign, burrowing under the wall and hopping off from East to West. Berliners on both sides of the wall looked on the rabbits fondly because they reminded them of the freedom of movement they once had.


Photo credit: digitalcosmonaut/Flickr

But when the Berlin Wall came down in 1990, the bunny population disappeared into parks, bushes and gardens. Nearly all of them migrated to the west where is now about 10 colonies of wild rabbits, and only one in the east.

In order to commemorate the bunnies of the Berlin Wall, in 1999, Berlin artist Karla Sachse installed the silhouettes of 120 brass rabbits into the asphalt of the road and slabs of the pavement in the Chausseestrasse area of Berlin. The project is called Kaninchenfeld, which is “rabbit field” in German, and the art pieces are located at the site of the former border crossing.

Sadly, the brass rabbit population is declining, just like their real life counterparts did when the Berlin Wall was torn down. A large number of them have disappeared under fresh layer of asphalt. Careless reconstruction also destroyed many. It’s hard to say how many survive today, and no one seems to be interested in saving them.


Photo credit: Photo credit: digitalcosmonaut/Flickr


Photo credit: digitalcosmonaut/Flickr


Photo credit: digitalcosmonaut/Flickr

Sources: AndBerlin / Digital Cosmonaut / The Guardian

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1 comment:

  1. I recall watching the wall come down on Tv. Not only that but during the late 1980's I spent a month there as a member of the military police (RMP) and visited the east via Checkpoint Charlie. The bunnies seem fitting due also to the people who tunneled their way to freedom. Pity no one is caring for them. Great pity.


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