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Old July 6th, 2008, 05:48 AM   #21
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It should not be demolished. Put in a museum, yes. With some parts remaining where they were naturally located, such as the pieces on the Platz there.

It defines a large portion of Germany's 20th century history.
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Old July 6th, 2008, 12:43 PM   #22
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Well, it even defines a large portion of Europe's 20th century history.

It has to be maintained. This thing is the only reason why Americans come to Berlin
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Old July 9th, 2008, 11:12 AM   #23
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The Wall was one thing that made Berlin unique. Both from a historical and tourist point of view eradicating it would be a mistake. There are walls elsewhere too that have been retained, like here in Prague from the 30 Years War in the 17th century, a war no less traumatic than the Cold War. Tearing that down would be unthinkable.

On the other hand walls are impractical, but can be used to great effect. Me, I would have made fun of pieces, like having a piece with ladders over them or tunnels under them, reclining walls, or motorised submerging walls, like the new anti-terror barriers you can see elsewhere in Berlin, or, my favourite, a reconstituted wall from pieces the the tourists hacked off from it in the early 1990s. Those pieces of concrete were spread to all parts of the world, it might be time for them to come home. It seems that BubbaDaBuilder is willing to donate his piece.
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Old October 18th, 2008, 06:07 PM   #24
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Effort launched to save fading Berlin Wall murals

BERLIN, Oct 16 (Reuters) - Murals on the largest remaining section of the Berlin Wall, the world's longest open-air art gallery, are to undergo emergency restoration to save them from decay, an organiser said on Thursday.

Most of the 160 km (100 mile)-long wall was torn down after crowds scaled or smashed through it in November 1989 and the East German communist state collapsed.

But 118 artists from 22 countries flocked to Berlin in 1990 to paint murals on a surviving 1,300-metre (4,300ft) stretch of the once-forbidding concrete barrier.

Since then, paint has faded, the concrete has been eroded by the elements and some panels have been defaced by graffiti.

"If we don't restore it now it'll be too late," said Kani Alavi of the East Side Gallery Artists' Association which has organised the 2.2 million-euro ($3-million) restoration.

"We want to remove and repaint each image," he said. "We have gone to a lot of effort to track down the artists."

Organisers have found about 80 percent of the 118 and are trying to reach the rest.

Built by communist authorities who described it as an "anti-fascist protective barrier", the Berlin Wall divided the city for 28 years. Scores of people were killed by East German sentries as they tried to escape across it from east to west.

Many of the East Side Gallery's 106 murals were inspired by the collapse of communism. One of the most famous is the "Brotherly Kiss", showing former East German leader Erich Honecker kissing Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev.

The gallery was declared a historic monument by the Berlin city government in 1992 and has become one of the city's top tourist attractions.

Construction workers and artists began restoration work on Wednesday and aim to complete it by November 9, 2009 -- the 20th anniversary of the Wall being breached.
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Old October 20th, 2008, 09:30 AM   #25
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Restoration work starts on the Berlin Wall's longest remaining stretch
15 October 2008

BERLIN (AP) - East German leader Erich Honecker famously proclaimed in 1989 that the Berlin Wall could remain in place for another 100 years.

It turns out that his faith in East German construction was almost as off the mark as his political instincts. The Wall opened for traffic a few months after Honecker spoke. And now the remaining pieces are crumbling physically.

On Wednesday, some 19 years after the barrier was opened, restoration work began on the longest remaining stretch, which has been ravaged by age and damaged by vandals and trophy hunters chipping off pieces.

The three-quarter-mile (1.3 kilometer) stretch, known as the East Side Gallery, snakes along the Spree River in Berlin's Friedrichshain neighborhood. In 1990, 118 international artists covered it with elaborate graffiti at the city's invitation.

The sight recalls the wall's western side during the Cold War, which was covered with graffiti during the decades after the barrier was erected on Aug. 13, 1961. Parts of the eastern side -- to which the East Side Gallery belongs -- were painted only after communism collapsed.

Today, the stretch of Wall attracts droves of tourists, who pose for snapshots in front of the murals -- famous images such as the fraternal communist kiss between Honecker and Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, or the East German Trabant car that appears to be bursting through the wall.

In addition to the crumbling concrete, the murals themselves have seen better days, as pollution, rain and graffiti have turned them into a sad, flaking sight.

The approximately euro2.2 million (US$3 million) restoration project will see much of the original concrete removed and replaced with better-quality materials, and then finished with a surface that will better keep the artwork from peeling off.

More than 20 of the original artists were at a kickoff ceremony Wednesday, and the East Side Gallery's Artists' Association is already in contact with around four-fifths of the 118 involved in the 1990 project, said the association's leader, Kani Alavi.

Though the original art will have to be removed for the restoration of the concrete, the hope is to have the artists repaint the wall exactly as it was in time for November 9, 2009, the 20th anniversary of the fall of the wall, Alavi said.

"It must be authentic," said Alavi, an Iranian-born artist who in 1990 painted the East Side Gallery mural of East Germans crossing into West Berlin called "Es geschah im November" or "It happened in November."

In the cases where the original artists have died -- five are known to have -- the East Side Gallery Artists' Association is trying to track down people who may have worked with them in 1990 to recreate their art, Alavi told the AP.

"For me it is a big challenge to get the East Side Gallery finished by next year for the 20th anniversary," he said.

The money for the project comes from the European Union, state lottery money, and federal and local funds, Alavi said. Organizers have set aside euro1 million (US$1.36 million) for the art restoration and euro1.2 million (US$1.6 million) to fix the wall itself.

In total, 821 wall segments and 105 artworks will be restored.

"The East Side Gallery is a part of Berlin's concept for remembering the wall and paying tribute to its victims," said city culture official Andre Schmitz. He said it represents "living with the wall after its fall."
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Old November 27th, 2008, 04:19 AM   #26
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Two-wheeled tours of Berlin's old divide.
15 November 2008
Irish Times

Go Culture: A cycle along the route of the Berlin Wall is a great way to unravel the logic of the German capital, writes Louise East

WALLS, FOR the most part, do not make great tourist attractions. They may do sterling work holding roofs up and keeping invaders out, but bricks and mortar are not exactly the stuff of a riveting slide show.

Walls that do make the guide-books - the Great Wall of China, Hadrian's Wall, the Wailing Wall - earn star billing by virtue of their symbolic as much as their aesthetic value.

Nowhere is this more evident than in Berlin, a city to which tourists are drawn in their masses to a wall that no longer exists.

Nineteen years ago last week, live footage of bleached-denim-clad teenagers scrambling over a concrete behemoth dominated the evening news. In one November night, the wall that had divided communist east Berlin from capitalist west for 28 years lost its power.

In the weeks and months that followed, the Berlin Wall was torn down with earnest efficiency, its symbolism too potent to be tolerated a moment longer. Now, Berlin is a city famous for its absences; the wall that is not there, the bunker until recently unmarked, the mighty architecture lost to Allied bombs.

What cannot be erased is the route the wall once took through the city, cutting through tramlines, canals and back gardens, often with an absurd, illogical cruelty.

Cycling the route makes sense. In total, the wall was 160km long; the section running through the city centre amounted to some 32km, all of it flat and most of it covered by a cycle path. Several of Berlin's must-see sights are on or near the route, and cycling what was once an impregnable boundary goes a long way towards unravelling the logic of the city.

Berlin has not been slow to pick up on interest in the wall, and there are several websites, tours and guidebooks that show you where to go. I signed up with Fat Tire Bike Tours and was issued a colourful Beach Cruiser bike, complete with handlebars as wide as buffalo horns and a fat squashy saddle.

Bike tours take 4˝ hours, but the pace is leisurely and there's no fitness or experience requirement; several anxious riders in my group were swooping like swallows by the end of the tour.

As Fat Tire's dedicated Berlin wall tour had finished for the season, I joined its year-round city tour, which follows a good chunk of the wall route, starting with Checkpoint Charlie, the infamous Allied checkpoint.

It was here that US and Soviet tanks faced off in October 1961, an iconic Cold War moment now promoted with grimly ironic capitalist fervour. You can have your passport "stamped" by an actor wearing the uniform of a GDR border guard, or pay a couple of euro to have your photo taken alongside a reconstruction of the US army guardhouse.

The buildings all around illustrate Berlin's frenzy of reconstruction, but an on-street exhibition of photos, maps and personal histories goes some way to reconstructing the windswept menace of the former border crossings.

From Friedrichstrasse, we turn down Zimmerstrasse, following a double row of chestnut-brown cobblestones. These crop up throughout the city, indicating where the wall once ran, and they are never less than poignant, their simplicity in stark contrast to the impenetrable wall they represent.

Our next stop is at Niederkirchnerstrasse, where several metres of wall still stand, 12ft tall, and topped with a distinctive tube of re-enforced concrete. In a strange reversal of fortunes, it is now the wall that is sealed off with a wire fence, designed to protect it from the Mauerspechte or "wall-peckers" - people determined to chisel off a souvenir.

Just beyond the strip of wall lies an empty square of wasteland, and a few razed remains of the Prinz Albrecht Palais, once the headquarters of the Gestapo and the SS. When the building was torn down, a series of cells used as torture chambers were revealed; these foundations now host a series of photos and information panels called, rather luridly, the Topography of Terror.

It's a bleak spot, haunted by the strange desolation of a tourist sight dedicated not to pleasure but remembrance. Yet the mood of the tour is light. Somehow, Mike, our tour guide, manages to weave humour through his account of Berlin's grim past, and there's something rather uplifting about cruising the city's streets in a gang of cyclists.

Right now, Mike pulls our thoughts out of those grim foundations and directs them to a window high up in a stern Nazi-built block across the street. From here an East German office clerk managed to fly his family across the wall to the West, by posting each out the window on a hastily secured zip-wire. Another escapee managed to drive his low-slung sports car neatly under the checkpoint barrier. From Niederkirchnerstrasse, the wall route takes us past one of only five remaining guard towers of the 300 that once watched the notorious Death Strip just inside the wall, and into Potsdamer Platz, home of Germany's first electric traffic light, a few lone panels of the wall and several glass and steel sky-scrapers.

We cycle on, past the undulating concrete slabs of the Jewish Memorial and down the side of the Tiergarten to the Brandenburger Gate. Built in 1789 and intended to recall ancient Greece, the Brandenburg Gate is now indelibly associated with the celebrations that greeted the fall of the Berlin Wall.

In fact, its inclusion in the iconography of the Cold War is rather arbitrary; for much of its length, the wall was only a brick-width wide, but in front of the Gate, it stood a couple of metres thick, making it a good place to drink champagne and party.

At this point, the Fat Tire city tour parts ways with the wall route to ride through Berlin's many other sights, so the next day I head out with my own bike and a guidebook to explore another section of the wall.

Oberbaumbrücke spans the River Spree, a beautiful, two-storey red brick edifice of arches and spires, connecting Kreuzberg in the west and Friedrichshain in the east. In December 1963, after two years of complete isolation, West Berliners were finally granted one-day visas to visit their relatives in the East across this bridge.

Running along the edge of the river on the Friedrichshain side is the longest surviving stretch of wall, a 1.3km stretch now known as the East Side Gallery due to its technicolour skin of protest graffiti, including Birgit Kinder's iconic painting of a Trabant car blasting west in a shower of bricks.

Backed by a four-lane highway and much supplemented by the biros of tourists, the wall is depressingly shabby in places, but days before my visit a facelift was announced. Funding of €2.2 million is in place, and the call has gone out asking the original artists to return and restore their work.

I leave the East Side Gallery and take a short cut north to Bernauer Strasse. Light is fading fast but I want to see this particular street, a primer to the absurdity of building a wall through a city. When the residents of Bernauer Strasse woke up on the morning of August 13th, 1961, they discovered that the houses on the south side of the street were in East Berlin but the pavement below was in the West.

As fast as people jumped out the windows, the authorities bricked them up, until finally, 58-year-old Ida Siekmann jumped from her third-floor window, later dying from her injuries. There's little to see at present-day Bernauer Street bar a plaque describing two secret passageways, called Tunnels 29 and 57 after the number of people who made it through.

But perhaps here more than anywhere else in central Berlin you get a sense of what it was like back when the wall scored a line through the city centre. No shiny new buildings have covered over the death strip and it remains a dusty, weed-strewn wasteland, too wide to shout across. I park my bike and scout around until I find them, two lines of cobblestones disappearing into the wilderness.

Go there: Ryanair (www.ryanair.com) flies to Berlin-Schönefeld airport from Dublin. Aer Lingus (ww.aerlingus.com) flies to Berlin-Schönefeld airport from Cork and Dublin

Where to stay, eat and go if you visit Berlin

Where to stay

East Side Hotel(6 Mühlenstrasse, Friedrichshain (00-49-30-293833; www.eastsidehotel.de) is so close to the East Side Gallery you can read the graffiti from your room. Doubles from €70.

City Stay Hostel(16 Rosenstrasse, 00-49-30-23624031, www.citystay.de) is a clean, well-located hostel that makes the most of its renovated 1896 building. Dorm rooms from €17, en-suite doubles from €32.

Hotel Riehmers Hofgarten, (83 Yorckstrasse, Kreuzberg, 00-49-30-78098800, www.riehmers-hofgarten.de) is in a very pretty courtyard in an area thick with cafes and restaurants. Singles from €98, doubles from €129.

Ostel(5 Wriezener Karree, Mitte, 00-49-30-25768660, www.ostel.eu). Travel back in time with this hotel, which recreates life in the GDR. Dorm beds from €9, en-suite doubles from €61.

Ackselhaus(21 Belforter Strasse, Prenzlauer Berg, 00-49-30-44337633, www.ackselhaus.de). Super-chic apartments and suites in one of the prettiest parts of the former East Berlin. Doubles from €100.

Where to eat

Grossbeerenkeller.

90 Grossbeerenstrasse, Kreuzberg, 00-49-30-2513064. A Berlin institution since 1862, and handily close to the wall route.

Café Adler. 206 Friedrich Strasse, Kreuzberg, 00-49-30-2518965. A useful stop-off point, just beside Checkpoint Charlie, for coffee, cake and calm.

Witty's. Wittenbergplatz, Charlottenberg. Judging by the queues at this stand, Witty's organic sausages are definite contenders for the title of Berlin's best wurst.

Borchardt. 47 Französische Strasse, Mitte, 00-49-30-81886262. Swish, buzzy and central.

Pasternak. 22-24 Knaackstrasse, Prenzlauer Berg, 00-49-30-4413399. A cosy place to tuck into beef stroganoff and blinis.

Where to go

• Art is big in Berlin right now. A major Jeff Koons retrospective has just opened in the Mies van der Rohe-designed Neue Nationalgalerie (50 Potsdamer Strasse, 00-49-30-2662652, www.neue-nationalgalerie.de) while Andy Warhol and Joseph Beuys make unusual bedfellows at the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum fur Gegenwart Berlin (50-51 Invalidenstrasse, 00-49-30-39783411, www.hamburgerbahnhof.de).

• On Sunday, shops shut in Berlin. Instead, head to Boxhagener Platz in Friedrichshain, where Berliners like to forage in the flea market and linger over brunch.

• To get a great view of the city, climb the Norman Foster-designed dome at the Reichstag. It's worth doing, but be prepared to queue.

• The DDR (GDR) museum (1 Karl-Liebknecht Strasse 00-49-30-847123731, www.ddr-museum.de) offers a hands-on introduction to life in the former East Germany, from Trabis to gherkins.

On your bike

• Fat Tire Bike Tours Berlin (00-49-30-24047991, www.fattirebiketoursberlin.com) offer bike tours all-year-round (€20 per person). Their Berlin Wall tour restarts on May 1st, or they can organise a private guide. Bike hire €12 per day.

• Cycline's Berlin Wall Trail(Esterbauer, €12.99) is a guide to cycling the wall route, available in English.

Irish connectionCheck out Ard Bia Berlin (39 Chodowieckistrasse, 00-49-30-4862537, www.ardbiaberlin.com). The Berlin off-shoot of Galway's Ard Bia gallery is hosting artists talks all winter.
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Old January 16th, 2009, 05:55 PM   #27
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Get a good night's sleep on a slab of Berlin Wall
16 January 2009

BERLIN, Jan 16 (Reuters) - Mattresses shaped to look like slabs of the Berlin Wall -- complete with slogans and grafitti -- have been created by a trio of local artists to help mark the 20th anniversary of its demise.

The designers came up with the idea for "Mauermatratzen" (Wall mattresses) and "Berlin Wall guest beds" after the city called on artists to come up with designs to celebrate the Nov. 9, 1989 collapse of the Wall that split East and West Germany.

"The Wall divided people so we liked the idea of turning it around by making furniture which brings people together," Juliane Zoeller, one of the designers, told Reuters on Friday.

The beds -- which are pieces of art and not really bedroom furniture -- have been exhibited in London and Berlin.

"We thought we could tackle the subject without taking it too seriously," she said.
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Old January 25th, 2009, 06:32 AM   #28
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Source : http://www.pbase.com/ernestl





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Old January 25th, 2009, 05:08 PM   #29
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my photos of the berlin wall at eastside gallery taken on a bitterly cold January 1st 2009

[IMG]http://i42.************/169kjk6.jpg[/IMG]

[IMG]http://i40.************/2w3xsso.jpg[/IMG]

[IMG]http://i42.************/2u9ls8y.jpg[/IMG]
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Old February 2nd, 2009, 06:09 AM   #30
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Berlin Kicks Off 20th Anniversary Year of the Fall of the Wall
28 January 2009
Deutsche Welle

Berlin kicked off a year of events on Wednesday, Jan. 28, commemorating the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989.

At a gathering at Berlin's landmark Potsdamer Platz, the city's Senate representative Richard Meng said 2009 is a "year of remembrance," as well as a "year of respect for the people who contributed to the peaceful fall of the Wall."

Throughout the year, exhibitions, talks and guided walks will remind people of the huge changes Berlin has undergone.

The highlight of the year will be a weekend of celebrations and a huge series of domino stones, set to topple on November 9, symbolically marking the sequence of events that brought an end to communism.

"In Berlin, Germany grew together more than anywhere else," Meng said, adding that it's time to "show and describe the change which has occurred everywhere in Berlin."

From Thursday, a red information booth at Potsdamer Platz highlights the city's transformation since 1989.

The booth has a flight of stairs, granting a panoramic view of the square which was redeveloped in glass and steel with the aim of helping it regain the central role it played before the city was divided.

Travelling display traces history

An interactive display, replicated in a mobile box travelling the city, reveals pictures of Berlin's changing face over the course of the last 20 years.

As the infobox visits 15 historically significant locations across Berlin, a large helium-filled arrow will float above it, pointing to the sites from a height of 100 meters.

These booths are needed, city officials said, in part because very little is left of the original Berlin Wall. Tourists and locals alike are baffled by the fact that it's now difficult to see the former division between east and west.

Berlin's mayor, Klaus Wowereit, said there was an urge to remove all traces of the city's division after 1989. "We were in a euphoric mood," he told Berlin's RBB Inforadio on Wednesday.

"Nobody wanted to bear this wall any longer, this wall of disgrace that divided the city, that brought so much distress to the city, to the families, to the individuals affected."

Despite the posters, maps and interactive displays, it's difficult to transmit "the horror of the Wall, this system of terror with its mines, its dogs and the orders to shoot," the mayor said.

Wowereit added that, in retrospect, maybe the Wall was removed too hastily. "Maybe more should have been left standing as an example," he said.
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Old February 15th, 2009, 12:27 PM   #31
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Berlin searches traces of Wall 20 years on
28 January 2009
Agence France Presse

A bright red viewing platform went up in central Berlin Wednesday allowing visitors to retrace the history of the Berlin Wall 20 years after its fall.

The 5.5-metre-high (18-foot-high) Infobox was erected on Potsdamer Platz, which was sliced in half by the Wall during the Cold War and has in the past two decades transformed into a booming commercial and business hub.

Inside, visitors from Thursday will be able to look out on the former route of the Wall and click on an interactive city map showing before-and-after photographs of key spots.

Berlin government spokesman Richard Meng noted that although the strip along the Wall had mainly been a desolate no-man's land, many Berlin tourists were frustrated to see so little of the Wall left and intensely interested in that era of city history.

"The most important change is that Berlin has become a diverse city that is open to the world, with 180 nationalities living here, and that the city is still unifying," Meng told reporters.

"This is a city in which creativity is welcome, where there are a lot of young people -- a city where you can have an impact. Other big cities such as London, Paris are already complete... but Berlin is still inventing itself."

The platform is to be open at least until mid-April.

The attraction is modelled on the highly successful Infobox which presided over Potsdamer Platz from 1995 to 2001, allowing a bird's-eye view of what was then Europe's biggest construction site and displaying models of what the square was to look like.

The communist East German government built the Berlin Wall, a 155-kilometre (96-mile) stretch of reinforced concrete and barbed wire, to halt a mass exodus of its citizens to the west.

More than 1,000 people are believed to have died trying to escape.

Germany is marking the fall of the despised Wall with events throughout the year culminating on November 9, the day East Germany threw open the border, leading to national unification 11 months later.
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Old April 15th, 2009, 05:21 AM   #32
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Artists start repainting faded Berlin Wall murals
14 April 2009

BERLIN, (Reuters) - Artists on Tuesday began repainting the largest remaining section of Berlin Wall with the murals they created after the fall of the hated symbol of the Cold War almost 20 years ago.

A 1,300 metre (4,265 ft) stretch of wall, the world's longest open-air art gallery, was decorated by 118 artists from 21 countries in 1990, but has since been damaged by the weather, exhaust fumes, vandals and souvenir-seeking tourists.

The restoration work is expected to be completed in time for the 20-year anniversary in November of the fall of the wall that once divided communist East Berlin from capitalist west Berlin.

Artist Gerhard Lahr, 70, a children' books illustrator living in East Berlin, recalled the thrill of being allowed to paint a mural on the wall in 1990, where rifle-toting border guards had patrolled only months before.

"Just that we were allowed to go there, it was incredible," he said, as he started to repaint his work "Berlyn" under a cloudless sky.

The gallery was declared a historic monument by the Berlin city government in 1992 and has become one of the city's top tourist attractions.

However, not all of the artists were pleased to learn their original murals on the stretch known as the East Side Gallery would be erased -- and that they would be expected to repaint them.

Russian artist Dmitri Vrubel, who painted the famous image of East German leader Erich Honecker kissing his Soviet counterpart Leonid Brezhnev, has told German media he would not paint the same image as before.

The artists now working on their sections are using transparencies and an overhead projector to ensure their recreations are precise.

Built by communist authorities who described it as an "anti-fascist protective barrier," the Berlin Wall divided the city for 28 years. Scores of people were killed by East German sentries as they tried to escape across it from east to west. (Reporting by Jacob Comenetz; Editing by Sophie Hares)
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Old April 30th, 2009, 11:19 AM   #33
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A Break in the Fence
Twenty years ago this week, a bold move began the process that would bring down the Berlin Wall

4 May 2009
Newsweek

Erich Honecker could not have guessed he was presiding at his last real May Day. It was May 1, 1989, and the aging overlord of the German Democratic Republic stood atop a reviewing stand in East Berlin before a sea of marching soldiers and flag-waving communist youth. The sun shone, and a soft breeze ruffled his fluffy, grandfatherly white hair. Regimes across the East bloc were holding their annual salute to Marxism and military might. But a blow was coming that would finally smash that empire.

In the next few months there will be all sorts of commemorations of communism’s end, particularly of the demolition of the Berlin Wall in November 1989. To Americans it was a glorious moment, emblematic of the West’s victory in the Cold War. But if you watched the East bloc’s disintegration from the ground, as I did, you know that the process was far longer and more complex than many people realize. Most modern histories pay little notice to the bold plot that set the whole thing in motion and would ultimately redraw the map of Europe.

As Honecker luxuriated in a cloudless May Day, Miklós Németh trudged through a sullen rain 400 miles away in Budapest. Responding to rising discontent, Hungary’s ruling communists had canceled their parade in favor of a People’s Picnic. As prime minister, Németh had no choice but to attend—the proverbial skunk at a lawn party. The reform-minded economist stood in the chilly drizzle and listened as the Communist Party boss, a former typesetter named Károly Grósz, castigated him for his progressive policies. Németh, Grósz said in scathing tones, wanted to wreck the country with democracy and free elections—free markets and capitalism, too. Grósz all but spat upon him, Németh would later recall. “This may be your day,” the prime minister told the party boss as they went their separate ways. “But my day is not far off!”

He spoke the truth. The next day, on May 2, Németh and his government did the unthinkable: they cut a hole in the Iron Curtain. Németh and fellow reformers had been planning it for months, almost from the time they took office in December 1988. Days before, they had invited the international media to the border with Austria for a “special event.” And there, as TV cameras rolled, they proclaimed that the electric fence running the length of the frontier was an “anachronism.” Hungarian soldiers with giant wire-cutters broke open a stretch of barbed wire that for four decades had divided East from West.

“What are those Hungarians up to!” Honecker shouted in a Politburo meeting the following morning. The answer was obvious. Within weeks, East Germans would be setting out on summer trips, and Hungary was a favorite destination. The country’s “goulash economics,” mixing Marxist industrial planning with a measure of free enterprise, provided things unavailable almost anywhere else in the grit-gray Soviet-bloc East: nice restaurants, ample food and good wine. For Honecker, the news was a nightmare straight from 1961, the year the Berlin Wall was built to stop East Germans from fleeing to the West. Németh’s assault on the fence was an open invitation to East Germans to head south on “vacation”—and head west via Hungary’s open border.

That’s what happened. All that summer, East Germans fled their country in growing numbers. In June, the Hungarians restaged their snipping of the fence, this time with the two countries’ foreign ministers ceremoniously doing the cutting. The conspirators shuttled secretly between Vienna and Bonn, consulting with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and others on the next steps. On Aug. 19 there was a gathering billed as “the Pan-European Picnic,” where hundreds of East German tourists poured out through a new hole in the fence. The next month, the Hungarians jettisoned such charades altogether and simply threw open the gates. NEWSWEEK headlined it “The Great Escape”: a mass exodus that would set the stage for the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Twenty years later, I remain mystified. “We never saw it coming,” many experts confessed. And yet the signs had been there, from May Day and before, like the creaking and cracking of a snowpack before an avalanche. The Cold War had lasted so long that change seemed unimaginable. But freedom burst into flower at last.

Meyer was NEWSWEEK’S bureau chief for Germany and Eastern Europe in 1989. This article is drawn from his forthcoming book, “The Year That Changed the World,” to be published in September by Scribner/Simon & Schuster.
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Old May 10th, 2009, 08:24 PM   #34
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Berlin exhibit commemorates peaceful revolution

BERLIN, May 7 (Reuters) - A new outdoor exhibition documenting the peaceful revolution of 1989 that culminated in the fall of the Berlin Wall opened on the German capital's Alexanderplatz square on Thursday.

The exhibition, a main feature of Berlin's commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the symbolic end of the Cold War, focuses on the role played by civil rights activists in the former East Germany, or GDR.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier opened the exhibition 20 years to the day after local elections that civil rights groups contested, marking what he said was the beginning of the end of Communist rule.

On that day, said Steinmeier, "the GDR was finished, because civil society had conquered it."

"This exhibit rightly showcases those who made the revolution happen," he added.

"These were first and foremost not those individuals written about in the history books, but the courageous citizens of the GDR, thousands and hundreds of thousands of them."

On Nov. 4, 1989, tens of thousands of people gathered in Alexanderplatz demanding peace and democracy in the largest unauthorised demonstration in East Germany.

Banners bearing the words of their chant, "Wir sind ein Volk" ("We are one people") are displayed above the exhibition.

Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit, who opened the exhibition with Steinmeier, welcomed the many GDR opposition leaders present.

"The exhibition we are opening today is not meant to be in a museum," he said. "The memories of autumn 1989 are too recent."

The exhibition will remain open around the clock until Nov. 14. Entrance is free.
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Old September 23rd, 2009, 08:24 PM   #35
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The wall absolutely must be preserved, it was perhaps the most significant construction in Europe during the 20th century. Sure it was ugly, but as others have said, it's history and we should never, ever, forget the past - especially a past like that.

The wall in 1990 - my home video

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Old August 9th, 2010, 06:13 PM   #36
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Berlin Wall section on display at Ohio museum
24 June 2010

CINCINNATI (AP) - A three-ton section of the Berlin Wall has become part of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in downtown Cincinnati.

The section 12 feet tall and 4 feet wide will be dedicated as a monument July 3 outside the museum that focuses on how Civil War era slaves reached freedom, and on freedom around the world. It arrived Wednesday.

The Munich, Germany, Sister Cities Association worked to help get the section from Berlin to Cincinnati as part of a relationship with the Ohio city that began more than two decades ago as the Soviet bloc was falling apart.

The Freedom Center plans an educational mini-park for the segment, which will be lit at night. Other sections of the wall that divided East and West Berlin until 1989 have been given to other cities over the years.
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Old August 9th, 2010, 07:22 PM   #37
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That's awesome! I can't wait to see it!
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Old August 9th, 2010, 07:22 PM   #38
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I really don't get the point of what some "historians" wanted to. It seems like they wanted Berlin to be forever divided with the whole barrier standing, only without the checks and controls.

Cities are dynamic. You can't "preserve" everything. Imagine if an extensively rebuilt place like Rome were never touched or transformed by Etruscans, Latins, Romans, Visigoths, Bretons etc. etc. etc.

Most European cities had medieval walls that limited the city growth until the late 18th Century, when they began to be torn. This (Berlin Wall) was just the same phenomena again.
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Old August 10th, 2010, 04:33 PM   #39
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In my hometown half of the historical medival wall still exist, why should they not try to save a part of the berlin wall?
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Old August 10th, 2010, 04:48 PM   #40
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I want that wall to be down its shows a dark history in Germany. As myself a German i hate that wall. BERLIN CITY GOVERMENT TEARDOWN THAT WALL LOTS OF PEOPLE HATE THAT WALL.
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