Anya Gruber '16 News Editor
The teardown of the Berlin Wall that separated East and West Berlin marked the end of the Cold War. The emblematic wall stood for twenty-eight years and its fall on Nov. 9, 1989, is still a very important and heavily symbolic moment, the implications of which are palpable to this day.
25 years ago, Germans mobbed the streets of Berlin to tear down the reviled wall with pick axes, shovels or their own bare hands.
The city of Berlin recognized this historic event by building a temporary nine-mile long wall made of brightly colored, lit up balloons in the spot where the heavy cement wall used to wind through the city for 90 miles. Around this balloon wall were musicians playing Beethoven pieces including “Ode to Joy.” Celebrators project images on large screens, and there were informative tours. At nightfall, the balloons – 8,000 of them – were released one by one in a spectacular show of light above the city.
Germany dedicated this day to festivities and celebration of the end of the divided Berlin. German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated how it important it was for Germany – and the world as a whole – to remember the hostility associated with the Berlin Wall.
She remained optimistic and pointed out that “we can change things for the better,” as the general tone of the festivities was one of happiness and freedom. She took the anniversary as a chance to address contemporary issues in the world. “This is the message for... Ukraine, Iraq and other places where human rights are threatened,” Merkel added.
Merkel remembered the many people who died trying to scale the wall to escape the oppression of East Berlin. Flowers were placed in crevices in the ground where the wall once stood to honor the deceased, and Chanceller Merkel herself placed down a rose as a symbol of remembrance.
The anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and its political significance are particularly pertinent now in the light of heightened tensions in Eastern Europe between the Ukraine and Russia, as well as conflict in the Middle East. All of these issue are global ones not unlike those of the Cold War.
Some Berliners still feel that there is a lingering separation between East and West Berlin, as many of the adults of the city grew up alongside the wall. Though, in the end, they are all Berliners. According to Christian Heinz, who grew up in West Germany, told USA Today, “the Berliners are all the same. They have a beer and a currywurst and see what happens next.”
As Chancellor Merkel stated, “The fall of the wall showed us that dreams can come true. Nothing has to stay as it is.”