Fall of the Wall – 25th Anniversary in Berlin

November 10, 2014

Germany

Yesterday marked the 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. I don’t think the historical event needs much introduction. It’s one of those ‘where were you?’ moments in history. On 9th November 1989, I was 11 years old, we were living in Scotland, and I remember it being on the news and my parents talking on the phone to our relatives in Germany. Now, 25 years later, I’m actually living in Berlin and felt quite honoured and moved to be part of the city’s very special anniversary celebrations.

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25 years after the Wall came down, Berlin was – albeit only symbolically – temporarily divided again. Over the weekend, starting last Friday evening, 8000 illuminated white balloons stretched along the former course of the Berlin Wall, marking out a total length of 15km, or about one tenth of the original 155km. Reaching from Bornholmer Strasse to Mauerpark and the Berlin Wall Memorial on Bernauer Strasse to the Reichstag, past the Brandenburg Gate and Checkpoint Charlie to the East Side Gallery, the balloons visually demonstrated where the city had once been divided, with the sometimes irrational seeming course reminding people how drastic and intrusive the division was for the citizens of Berlin.

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The light installation was accompanied by the open-air exhibition ‘100 Wall Stories’, with commemorative panels every 150 metres or so describing notable events along the former border, stories of escape attempts, political propaganda and artistic interventions. But in the run up to the event people around the world had also been invited to share their Wall Stories online, creating an invaluable collection of oral history. You can discover 50 of the exhibition stories on the Fall of the Wall website.

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The anniversary weekend was accompanied by a programme of events, including the above mentioned exhibition as well as guided tours, concerts, and of course many speeches from prominent guests including politicians, human and civil rights campaigners, and political witnesses of the time. The weekend culminated on Sunday evening in a big street festival and ceremony at the Brandenburg Gate, where at 7pm school children and guests of honour released the first of the balloons in to the night sky.

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The ascent of the balloons then rippled along the light installation, with balloon patrons from all walks of life releasing them one by one in a symbolical act of the Wall once again coming down. In a span of about 25 minutes, all the balloons were released in parallel at different places along the course of the Wall, whilst the Staatskapelle Berlin and the State Opera Chorus performed a moving rendition of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy at the Brandenburg Gate.

We weren’t present in person at the release of the balloons, but we did go and see the light installation on Saturday evening at Checkpoint Charlie. The grand finale was also broadcast on television.

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Below you can see a short one minute video posted by Kulturprojekte Berlin, who managed the event, on Facebook which pulls together the weekend’s highlights (it sometimes takes a few seconds to load):

2 Responses to “Fall of the Wall – 25th Anniversary in Berlin”

  1. Nina Says:

    Liebe Jenni, ganz tolle Bilder und Blogpost zu diesem emotionalen Event – wir waren auf der Bernauer Strasse mit Baby und waren ganz begeistert von der Stimmung.
    Liebe Grüße, Nina

    Reply

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