28 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Berlin, I’ll never let you go!

28 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Berlin, I’ll never let you go!
© Enrico Verworner

It’s October!

In a few days, Germany will celebrate the Re-Unification of Germany, otherwise known as, German Unity Day or Der Tag der Deutschen Einheit!

This most important day will take place on October the 3rd.

October 3rd is a public holiday given to the German people to honour the Re-Unification of the two German States previously called the German Democratic Republic (GDR) or DDR (Deutsche Democratic Republic) otherwise known as East Germany, and the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) or Bundesrepublik Deutschland (BRD), otherwise also known as West Germany!

Me in front of a piece of the Berlin Wall & Street Art!

I cannot under-estimate how much I love this city.

I mean, I shout about it loud enough and it was just four (4) years ago that I introduced myself to you on this blog, when I wondered what the heck Berlin was all about anyway!

Oh yeah, and then I wrote a cheeky article which most people didn’t seem to get. And the title? Germany is Boring.

Oops!

I mean, what is the big deal?

Best German meals to try out in Berlin – Currywurst!

I’ll tell you what the big deal is my good man.

It’s the fact that the city of Berlin.

THIS city of Berlin.

Has been together in peace and harmony for 28 years.

That’s right.

28 years!

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28 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Berlin, I’ll never let you go!

WHY WAS THE BERLIN WALL SET UP IN THE FIRST PLACE?

The Berlin Wall after the opening of the Wall near Brandeburger Gate on November 11th, 1989!
@25 Archiv. Bundesstiftung Aufarbeitung – Uwe Gerig

It’s a little complicated but after WWII, Germany was split and divided by the allies as punishment for Nazi Germany. And you only had to look at the city of Berlin to see who the Allies were namely; Great Britain, France, USSR and the United States.

It was not long before arguments and squabbling took place in the international political arena and simply put, the Eastern and Western Bloc decided to go their separate ways, and an Iron Curtain ensued.

East Germany went one step further and built a wall in Berlin, cutting a line through the entire centre of the city!

This wall was supposed to prevent East Berliners and citizens of East Germany from fleeing to the West, but the Wall was unable to stop the mass of people from escaping. As a result, in 1961, the ruling Communist Party in East Germany began adding more border fortifications to the Wall, creating a broad, many-layered system of barriers.

In the West, people referred to the border strip as the death strip because so many people were killed while trying to flee.

I have seen this death wall myself as I live in East Berlin and not 10 minutes away, is the main local park called Mauer Park.

The suburb of Prenzlauerberg where I live, is now enormously trendy and gentrified, and if you’re “in,” or want to be “in,” you strive to live here.

However, let it be noted that “Mauer” in German, means “Wall.”

The Death Strip in now East Berlin but formerly French – Soviet Germany!
©Joyce, S. A.

With the downfall of East Germany in 1989, the Berlin Wall that the Socialist Party tried to use to maintain its power, also fell. The Fall of the Wall marked the definitive end of its dictatorship.

The Berlin Wall enclosed West Berlin from August 13, 1961 to November 9, 1989.

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STREETS ON BOTH SIDES OF THE WALL?

The Berlin Wall.
28 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Berlin, I’ll never let you go!

A couple of years ago, I wrote about one of my favourite places, and where I first lived in Berlin – Kreuzberg. You can read all about it right here! In my post, I mentioned that Kreuzberg had the Berlin Wall running right through the middle of it and that during the happy confusion, when the Wall actually fell, young people were leaving the East to go West, or leaving the West to go East!

In fact, I liked Kreuzberg so much that when I first made a documentary about being a British person in Berlin, we did the filming there!

OMG! Don’t I just look like a city babe!
©Pascale Scerbo Sarro

In Prenzlauer Berg where I live now, we’re about twenty (20) minutes from the original East-West border, and about ten (10) minutes from the first border crossing on the bridge of Bornholmer Straße. If you’ve ever since the videos where East Berliners were running through the border with everyone clapping and giving out free beer, it was that one!

I always take my friends to where the original wall used to be!

And let me tell you.

I always weep tears of joy because even though I wasn’t in Berlin when the Berlin Wall actually fell, living in Berlin means that I’m able to touch, see and sometimes smell, what it was like to live here pre-1989!

Potsdamer Platz today!
28 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Berlin, I’ll never let you go!

In fact, I can still remember when Potsdamer Platz was nothing more than wasteland and a piece of the border strip known as No Man’s Land. And looked like it too!

Not far off from Prenzlauer Berg, is a street called Bernauer Strasse, also known as Bernauer Straße!

Bernauer Straße as part of the Berlin Wall in 1961 – Frank Baake © Thomas Gade

As you can see, the Berlin Wall used to go right through it!

In fact, it was pretty horrid for all concerned, as you could actually see the other side of the Wall from your kitchen window, but you couldn’t go to the Western side without being shot!

Smashing through the wall! ©frizztext
Smashing through the wall!
©frizztext

Imagine the frustration, pain, and horror.

Many people tried to escape to freedom and found ways to be creative by sailing across in a hot air balloon, digging tunnels underground, pretending to have a funeral and lowering the “dead” person into a pit, hiding inside the seated lining of a Volkswagen car, etc. All for a life of freedom.

Not much of the Wall is left today, which was chipped off and destroyed almost in its entirety, however, three (3) long sections are still standing:

The Topography of Terror. You can still see parts of the Berlin Wall right behind it!
©Britta Scherer

An 80-metre-long (260 ft) piece of the first (westernmost) wall at the now Topography of Terror, but which used to be the site of the former Gestapo headquarters!

But obviously, the original building was razed to the ground.
The Berlin Wall, otherwise known as, East Side Gallery!

A longer section of the second (easternmost) wall along the River Spree near the Oberbaumbrücke in Kreuzberg / Friedrichshain, which you can see throughout the 1988 cult film Run Lola Run, otherwise known as, East Side Gallery!

Bernauer Straße in both East & West Berlin!
28 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Berlin, I’ll never let you go!

 

And a third section that is partly reconstructed, in the north at Bernauer Straße, which was turned into a memorial in 1999.

And of course, isolated fragments, lampposts, a few watchtowers, and other elements, remain throughout various parts of the city!

On the border between East & West Berlin in Germany.

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SO HOW DID THE BERLIN WALL ACTUALLY FALL?

It’s easy to forget that this situation was only 28 years ago. Most of you reading this blog, are probably older!

Let’s get some history!


2 May

Hungary begins dismantling the fortifications on the border to Austria.People demonstrate against the election rigging in front of the Sophienkirche (church).


7 May

Local elections in the GDR. Opposition groups prove that the results were faked. People demonstrate against the election rigging in East Berlin on the seventh day of every subsequent month.


4 September

First Monday Demonstration in Leipzig. 1,200 people gather outside St. Nicholas’ Church. Their demands include freedom of travel and democracy.


9 /10 September

New Forum’s initial call-out becomes a signal for change. Further grassroots movements follow.


11 September

Hungary officially opens its western border for GDR citizens, risking a breach in its diplomatic relations with East Berlin.


30 September

West Germany’s foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher informs the East German refugees in the Prague embassy, that they will be allowed to leave the GDR.


3 October

The GDR government bans travel to Czechoslovakia without passports and visas, to stem the mass exodus. Special trains transport people from the Prague and Warsaw embassies to the West, through the GDR. There are violent clashes with police along the railway line, as well as in Dresden.


7. October

On the 40th anniversary of the GDR, several thousand people demonstrate in Berlin outside the Palace of the Republic.  In numerous East German towns and cities, similar protests are broken up by force.


9 October

Despite fear of military repression of the Monday Demonstration, 70,000 people take to the streets in Leipzig. The police, military and civilian forces do not intervene.


11 October

The single ruling political party calls for people to stay in the GDR, offering a “dialogue” concerning the country’s further development.


16 October

The number of people at the Monday Demonstration in Leipzig doubles. The security forces do not intervene.


18 October

Erich Honecker is forced to resign after 18 years in office. Egon Krenz is made the new secretary-general of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED).


24 October

Krenz is also elected chairman of the State Council and the National Defence Council. 12,000 people demonstrate against his appointment in Berlin that evening.


30 October

300,000 people take part in the Leipzig Monday Demonstration.


4 November

The largest demonstration in the history of the GDR takes place in Berlin.


7 November

The government of the GDR, and the Council of Ministers collectively resign.


8 November

The Central Committee Politburo, the highest body in the GDR, resigns. West German chancellor Helmut Kohl links economic and financial aid for the GDR to three conditions: the opposition must be legalised, free elections must take place, and the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED) must renounce its claim to sole authority.


9 November

The Wall falls, prompted by a vague, but now famous, announcement of new travel regulations at a press conference. Tens of thousands of East Berliners rush to the checkpoints and force the border open.


22 December

The Berlin Wall is officially opened at Brandenburg Gate. The first concrete section is removed from its beams at 0.30 a.m.


23 December

The offices issuing passes for the GDR in West Berlin close for good. West Germans no longer need a visa, or have to change a certain amount of money, to enter the East.


1990 Chronology


31 August

The Unification Treaty is signed in East Berlin.


3 October

Germany celebrates the “Day of German Unity” also known as “Re-Unification Day.”


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28 YEARS AFTER THE FALL OF THE BERLIN WALL

Climbing up the Berlin Wall for Freedom! Freedom!!

It was the people who took to the streets en masse and courageously resisted a dictatorship, enabling both the Fall of the Berlin Wall and the Peaceful Revolution.

The 28th anniversary of the Fall of the Wall is important because Berlin will continue to invite locals, expats, eyewitnesses who were here, and people of the world, to participate in the anniversary celebrations, and to tell personal stories about the Berlin Wall.

Outside Bernauer Straße in Berlin. Everyone is going to be here!

Everyone is going to be here!

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ANYTHING ELSE?

Yep! The Festival of Lights!

Festival of Lights ©Kerstin Röhner

Once a year, Berlin’s world famous sights and monuments become the canvas for spectacular light and video projections.

From 06.10.17 – 15.10.17, the Festival of Lights will transform Berlin’s most famous landmarks and historical monuments through light projections and video art whereby different artists will light up the capital, and illuminate buildings in many parts of the city!

Not only that, but the Festival of Lights also includes various art and music events, photography workshops, open house opportunities at selected buildings, and charity events, as well as guided tours by bus, boat and on foot!

Most of the participating monuments will be focused on the city centre, and will be illuminated from 19:00 until midnight.

Every day!

For a full list of participating buildings, maps, and photographic displays, go to the official Festival of Lights website here!

WHAT IF THE BERLIN WALL ISN’T MY CUP OF TEA?

Two sides and periods, of the Berlin Wall.

As if!!

Keep reading my blog. There is more to come!

That’s it for now.

See you next week!

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28 YEARS AFTER THE FALL OF THE BERLIN WALL: BERLIN, I’LL NEVER LET YOU GO!

Festival of Lights ©Alexander Meier

This article is not sponsored and all opinions and the currywurst and bratwurst that I’m sure to be happily scoffing in the next few weeks, are my very own!

I have so much to share with you.

In the Autumn, I’ll be visiting the UK and travelling around the areas of Cheshire, Staffordshire, Manchester, Blackpool, Derbyshire and Yorkshire!

Yipee!

October & November is going to be smashing.

The Berlin Wall – 28 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Berlin, I’ll never let you go!

Watch this space!

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond, WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links, I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

28 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Berlin, I’ll never let you go!

Have you ever been to Berlin? Do you remember where you were when the Berlin Wall Fell. Where were you in 1989? Let me know in the comments below!

 See you in Berlin.

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

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13 thoughts on “28 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Berlin, I’ll never let you go!

  1. I remember the fall of the wall very well. I was sitting on it in front of the Brandenburg Gate on 9 Nov watching the Vopos and the water cannon, none of which,, thankfully, were used. It was a weird atmosphere. Everyone remembers the euphoria, but I remember the angst before the euphoria. It did feel like it could go any way. An exciting time indeed!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much Thomas!

      No way! You were actually here! How amazing! I’m not usually jealous of people over anything at all, but for this, I really am! Wow! Wow!! Wow!!! It must have been so exciting but nerve-wrecking at the same time! Did you chip any of the Wall off! Did you take pictures? How long did you stay in the city? What else did you do? Spill all!

      For the 25th Year Anniversary, I watched as Angela Merkel walked over the border bridge at Bornholmer Strasse, and then I rushed off to Brandenburger Tor and managed to blag myself a position. Right at the front! I was surrounded by an international community of people from all over the world, it was wet and cold, but I didn’t care. I might have missed 1989, but I wasn’t going to miss this one! We also did all the balloon stuff and followed the Berlin Wall trail throughout the city, with all our friends. It took hours, and of course, it was at night, but the atmosphere was amazing!

      p.s. My first German boyfriend told me that in 1989, he was teaching German in a private school in Bristol, and when he saw the news, he just jumped in his car, and drove all the way to Berlin! From Bristol! He made it though! And an ex-student of mine, told me that they were in a pub in West Berlin, when they heard that the Wall was open, and so he and his mates went to the bridge border, saw all these people and then started giving out food and beer. In fact, he told me that all over the city, shops, bars and restaurants gave food and drink away (not that the East Berliners could afford to buy anything in those days) for free. To everyone! He said, it was the best day of his life! 😀

      Like

  2. I loved this post, so well written with great photos to illustrate, I particularly liked the Chronology bit, great way of refreshing our memories on all the events that led up to the fall of the Berlin Wall. I remember seeing the scenes on the TV, I already lived in England, in fact, I was still living in London then. I remember crying my eyes out since it was so emotional. I can’t believe it has been 28 years already. I have never been to Berlin, my visit is long overdue. Your passion for Berlin is infectious…I will visit soon…I promise 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Gilda!

      I can’t imagine that it’s just 28 years ago. It’s not even that long, but so many things have changed the essence of what Germany is today!

      I remember watching all the scenes on TV too. And being so happy and excited for them. And I still am!

      When our son was very young, we used to go to the graveyards of people who had fallen or been taken away, both during WWII and during the Cold War. It was always amazing to me that when I first came to Berlin, I could literally see the differences between East and West Berlin by sometimes just walking down the street. I lived in West Berlin initially, and I would walk to the East Berlin border where you see peoples’ feet above, and everything thereon would be dull and grey! In fact, in those days I couldn’t even venture into East Berlin as it was still dangerous and packed with squatters and punks! Who knew that in 2009, I myself, would actually move to East Berlin! In fact, most West Germans began to flock to Prenzlauer Berg and Mitte, and now you’d be hard pressed to find any “original” East Berliners living here. Oops!

      And not only that, but I would be living just 10 minutes away from the actual border bridge that people literally ran across in 1989! Sometimes it makes me cry with happiness! 😀
      p.s. It’s hightime you came to visit Berlin, you’ll love it. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. thank you for sharing such great information about Berlin. wanting to live in Germany, is what sparked our desire to live abroad. my family and i are currently in Costa Rica and look forward to making our way to Germany.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for commenting TeamBz, I’m always happy to help! 😀

      I’ve only been to the Dominican Republic in South America, and heard it was quite beautiful. I’d love to visit Peru, Mexico & Cuba one of these days! But if ever you need any info or guidance on Germany, I’m able to consult…!

      Like

  4. I was in kindergarten when the wall fell, and I don’t readily remember seeing it on TV. One of my high school history teachers showed a documentary about the Berlin Wall.

    President Reagan’s famous call to “Tear down this wall!” is memorable too.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Such eye-catching photos! I was too young to remember the fall of the Berlin Wall when it happened, but I recently watched Atomic Blonde, which is set in that era – it was pretty interesting to get a sense of what it was like back then. And yes, currywurst is my husband’s favourite too. Every time he sees it being sold, he has to buy one!

    Liked by 1 person

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