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Born in Stuttgart, Germany, in 1914, Rainer Hildebrandt became an active participant in the resistance against East Berlin’s communist regime after World War II. On August 13th, 1961, Hildebrandt witnessed the rise of the Berlin Wall. He worked with the CIA in helping East Berliners escape to the west. On November 8th, 1989, President Mikhail Gorbachev announced that travel restrictions would no longer be forbidden, and people from the west began to tear down the Wall. By November 9th, the Berlin Wall had fallen.

Hildebrandt saved and preserved 1,000 pieces of the eastern perimeter of the Berlin Wall. He commissioned three Russian artists, Tamara Dubinovskaja, Andre Aksenov, and Vladimir Smachtin, to paint 115 slabs. The collection was brought to the United States, and shortly after, in 2004, Hildebrandt died in Berlin. The late Jay Goulde and Jack Jawitz of the Berlin Wall Project committed to using the collection to teach the history of the Cold War and honor the memory of those who died trying to cross the Wall.


Tanara Dubinovskaja

Vladimir Smachtin