28 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall: (Nur Mit Euch / Only With You) – ‘cos Berlin, I’ll never let you go!

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

It’s October!

In a few days, Germany will celebrate the Re-Unification of Germany, otherwise known as, the Day of German Unity 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 five (5) 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!

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 Brandenburg 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.

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 videos where East Berliners were running through the border with everyone clapping, and cheering, 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 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 Berlin 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 from freedom and found ways to be creative by jumping through windows, 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 still stand:

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

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!

And obviously, after WWII, 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 1998 cult film Run Lola Run, starring Franke Potente (The Bourne Identity), and otherwise known as, East Side Gallery!

The film and soundtrack were just so exhilarating.

Even now, 20 years later!

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

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

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

On the border between East & West Berlin in Germany.

SO HOW DID THE BERLIN WALL ACTUALLY FALL?

It’s easy to forget Germany’s history!

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

Hurrah! Germany is now united as One as we celebrate the Day of German Unity, also known as Re-Unification Day or Tag der Deutschen Einheit!

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 or Der Tag der Deutschen Einheit!


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.

The connecting element will be a gallery, the Band der Einheit or Band of Unity showing the road signs of 11,040 towns and cities in Germany that are a blend of East and West Germany, and thus, a united Germany throughout the country.

As a symbol of German Unity, the gallery will span hundreds of metres across the festival area, and will explore the diversity of Germany in a simple yet appealing way, on a journey of discovery throughout Berlin, Germany, and Europe.

More than one million visitors are expected to attend the three-day festival.

Food in Germany: 5 of the Best Ever!

There will be a diverse programme of local street music and street food, DJ sets, dance sets, and karoeke at the Bearpit in Mauer Park, and across the festival.

There will also be an orchestra, and musicians from all over the world, on stage at Brandenburg Gate, resulting in the Grand Finale of a huge open-air concert featuring German artists such as Boss Hoss, Samy Deluxe, Nena, and others.

Absolutely free of charge of course!

I’ll be there. Wil you?

Come join us!

For a full list of participating buildings, maps, and photographic displays, go to the official Nur Mit Euch / Only With You, 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 soon!

28 YEARS AFTER THE FALL OF THE BERLIN WALL: (NUR MIT EUCH / ONLY WITH YOU) ‘COS BERLIN, I’LL NEVER LET YOU GO!

Beeeeerlin! I’ll never let you go!

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.

I’ll be writing about my trip to Sweden, Estonia & Latvia very soon, and in the winter, I’ll be travelling to India.

Keep a look out.

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

If you like this post, please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!

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I’m a fashionista, so I pucker my lips, twirl my skirt, and put on my kitten heels to attend the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Berlin – Spring/Summer 2016!

A model walks the runway at the Marina Hoermanseder show during the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin Spring/Summer 2016 at Kronprinzenpalais on July 10, 2015 in Berlin, Germany.
The Marina Hoermanseder Show at Kronprinzenpalais.

So Friday was effectively the last official day of Berlin Fashion Week.

After a flurry of stylish heels and outfits, exclusive red carpets and impressive runway shows and presentations, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin ended its 17th season with more than 50 designers presenting their Spring/Summer 2016 Collections.

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin - Save the Date

Phewwwwwwy!

What a fabulous week it was.

Berlin Fashion Week

 

Faaaashion Week.

Now take note. I’m not a fashion blogger. I couldn’t even tell you who is wearing what, when or how, next season!

Me on the beach at Lloret de Mar, Spain.
Me on the beach at Lloret de Mar, Spain.

What I can tell you, is how to do your own thing and be your own personal style icon.

What I can show you, is how to live of both style and travel because if I can do it.

So can you.

Sonja Kirchberger and Jenny Elvers at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin SPRING/SUMMER 2016. Foto: © Nass / Brauer  - Mercedes-Benz

This year, Berlin Fashion Week took place from 06.07.15 – 10.07.15.

Last season I bit off far more than I could chew, packed far too many things in, went a bit over-board and exhausted myself running all over the city and quaffing on champagne and gin and tonic!

Berlin's most iconic Brandenburg Gate - Let the good times roll!
Berlin’s most iconic Brandenburg Gate – Let the good times roll!

This season, I was better prepared and booked a few days out in order to take advantage of all the possibilities that the fashion week had to offer.

You know how much I really like Berlin and the fact that the opportunities here abound for all who are ready to work hard and find their own creative space. That is why even though my blog is centered on lifestyle and travel rather than fashion per se, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin (MBFWB) fully accredited me as a member of the press industry and honestly, every time I see my press pass it makes me feel so honoured and also enormously proud.

I mean, who would have thought that I, a lifestyle expat travel blogger of less than two (2) years would get the chance. THE CHANCE to not only attend Berlin Fashion Week, but also the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin!

The Marina Hoermanseder Show at the Kronprinzenpalais.
The Marina Hoermanseder Show at the Kronprinzenpalais.

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin is the cherry on the top of all that is fashion in this town. I mean, they are the cat’s pajamas LOL!

Thank you so much Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin!

LOL!

My press pass and equipment as you can't do better than a note-book, a pencil and a power stick!
My press pass and equipment as you can’t do better than a note-book, a pencil and a power stick!

I’ve written extensively about how I got involved in Berlin Fashion Week so you can read all about it below:

BERLIN, GERMANY - JULY 10:  A model walks the runway at the I'Vr Isabel Vollrath show during the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin Spring/Summer 2016 at Stage at me Collectors Room on July 10, 2015 in Berlin, Germany.  (Photo by Zak Kaczmarek/Getty Images for IMG)
I’ VR ISABEL VOLLRATH Show

SO WHAT’S MERCEDES-BENZ FASHION WEEK BERLIN REALLY ALL ABOUT THEN?

Well if you didn’t know, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin is an event that offers a glimpse into what’s next in fashion.

It features renowned designers and introduces up-and-coming fashion and design talent making their debut in front of fashion insiders from all across the globe in not only “the Tent” at Berlin’s enormously historic landmark – Brandenburg Gate, but for the first time, at a new contemporary venue called “the Stage” at me Collectors Room.

At the Emre Erdemoglu show - Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin Spring/Summer 2016.  (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz)
The Emre Erdemoglu Show.

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin is one of the most important supporters of the German fashion industry and is the flagship event for creative and emerging designers with:

  • Participating designers from Austria, China, Croatia, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Latvia, Malaysia, Mozambique, Nigeria, Russia, Serbia, Switzerland, Turkey, Uganda, the United Kingdom and Vietnam.
  • Registered press and buyers from Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Holland, Poland, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
  • The catwalk at Brandenburg Gate being 33 m in length and offering two different setups (Straight, Wide).
  • The catwalk at me Collectors Room being 20 m in length and offering two different setups (Straight, Presentation).
  • 628 lights and 50 loudspeakers to amplify the shows at Brandenburg Gate.
  • 126 lights and 20 loudspeakers to amplify the shows at me Collectors Room.
  • 6,550 hairpins.
  • 3,100 hair ties.
  • More than 702 hairstyles dressed by the L’Oréal Professionnel team under the direction of Head of Hair – André Märtens.
  • 560 bottles of hairspray.
  • 340 hair clips used in 4 days!
  • 210 cans of gel and pomade.
  • The creation of the latest hair styling trends.
  • And VIPs’ and celebrities such as Elle MacPherson, Eva Herzigova, Nena, Patrice Bouedibela, and Zac Posen.
Backstage Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin SPRING/SUMMER 2016 in Berlin am 08.07.2015 Foto: Nass / Brauer Photos fuer Mercedes-Benz
I get a little help from my friiiiiiiends!

Phew!

AND IN LAYMAN’S TERMS?

Well, the focus this season was on linen, huge flowers and prints, sleek clean lines, long shorts, cream, grey, pale blue and brown, long hair with bold and intricate plaits for the girls and either long hair or side-parted crops for the boys and leather or platform slip-ons, and a deliberate overlap between fashion and technology.

BERLIN, GERMANY - JULY 09:  Models walk the runway at the Impuls_03 Graduate Show der HTW-Berlin show during the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin Spring/Summer 2016 at Brandenburg Gate on July 9, 2015 in Berlin, Germany.  (Photo by Peter Michael Dills/Getty Images for IMG)
Very Game of Thrones at the Impuls_03 Graduate Show of HTW in Berlin!

And what were most people wearing?

Black.

Again!

Double sigh!

CAN ANYONE GO TO FASHION WEEK?

Atmo, †bersicht Mercedes-Benz und Vogue Fashion Night im Rahmen der Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin SPRING/SUMMER 2016, Restaurant Borchardt am 10.07.2015 Foto: Nass / Brauer Photos fuer Mercedes-Benz
Of course!

You sure can.

Many events were “by invitation only” but if you’re a member of the public and are really interested in the designer, you only have to write to their P.R. or agent, and ask! Besides, there were many other events in which you could either buy a ticket to attend or were “open to the public” anyway.

Do note that one of the reasons many events were “by invitation only” was because of the space. You want to be comfortable, safe and secure. And the same goes for the models and everyone who is attending. Safety first.

Myself at  Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin.
In my heeled kittens!

Unlike a certain after-party that I went to that was so “popular” that security had to close the entrance. At one point people began to get squashed and were piling on the stairs!

I took it as my cue to leave and the security guys were very helpful in keeping me safe. More about the social parties next week…!

cropped-me-at-csd.jpg

WHERE WAS VICTORIA aka THE BRITISH BERLINER?

Well, I received press invitations and passes to:

PANORAMA, SHOW & ORDER, BREAD & BUTTER, PREMIUM, SEEK, BRIGHT TRADESHOW, #FASHIONTECH BERLIN-KONFERENZ, PATRICK LOVES SPONGEBOB by PM, ETVAS MAGAZINE PRESENTS, and various exclusive fashion houses in conjunction with Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin, of course!

Bread & Butter Get Together

WHERE DID I ACTUALLY GO?

I actually went to:

  • BRACHMANN
  • IVANMAN
  • VEKTOR
  • ANJA GOCKEL
  • LOUISE FRIEDLAENDER
  • IRENE LUFT
  • JULIAN ZIGERLI
  • STEINROHNER
  • AUGUSTIN TEBOUL
  • LILLY INGENHOVAN
  • ETVAS MAGAZINE PRESENTS..
  • PANORAMA
  • SHOW & ORDER
  • BREAD & BUTTER
  • PREMIUM
  • SEEK
  • BRIGHT TRADESHOW
  • #FASHIONTECH BERLIN-KONFERENZ
Lena Hoschek at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin.
Lena Hoschek at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin.

I should also have gone to:

  • LENA HOSCHEK
  • ALEXANDRA TAMELE
  • MISS GERMANY
  • KASEEE
  • EWA HERZOG
  • VERO MODA “BACK TO THE ROOF”
  • PATRICK LOVES SPONGEBOB BY PM

but by the time that I got around to it, it was far too late to send an RSVP, too far away to get back to, or clashed with another event.

Einladung_Lilly_Ingenhoven_MBFWB_PR4Friends (1)

LESSONS LEARNT:

  • Reply ASAP!
  • No, really.
  • ASAP!
  • Say “yes” to everything.
  • Once you say “yes,” put everything in order with the date, time and location.
  • So now that you’ve said “yes,” don’t try to do everything at all! Confusing isn’t it?!
  • Do some, and politely decline the others!
  • Use all the exclusive Mercedes-Benz shuttle services provided from the main venue at Brandenburg Gate, to the offsite events for accredited press and media.
  • Wear comfy shoes at the trade fair shows and “fashion” shoes at the “real” Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin.
  • Don’t forget to eat.
  • Drink lots and lots of water.

Stay tuned!

BERLIN, GERMANY - JULY 08:  A model walks the runway at the Anja Gockel show during the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin Spring/Summer 2016 at Brandenburg Gate on July 8, 2015 in Berlin, Germany.  (Photo by Peter Michael Dills/Getty Images for IMG)
Riding crops for everyone!
  • Photos ©Nass / Brauer for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week SPRING/SUMMER 2016 in Berlin,
  • Photo ©Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz,
  • Photo ©Zak Kaczmarek/Getty Images for IMG,
  • Photos ©Peter Michael Dills/Getty Images for IMG,
  • Photos ©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner.

This article is not sponsored and even though I received complimentary press tickets, all opinions and the various titbits and refreshing glasses of champagne that I didn’t hesitate to accept, are my very own!

I have so much to share with you.

Next week, I will continue the excitement that is Berlin Fashion Week and give you all the fashion details. I’m also going to let you in on the much-sought for after-party tips as well as my next travel destination to three (3) countries!

Very, very soon!

July is going to be delightful.

Watch this space!

Mercedes-Benz Fashion ‎Week with Doutzen Kroes.
Mercedes-Benz Fashion ‎Week with Doutzen Kroes.

Have you ever participated or been to Fashion Week in Berlin or anywhere else in the week? A Mercedes-Benz or a Bentley?

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post or 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

Please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!

25 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Berlin, you’re my BFF!

The Berlin Wall after the opening of the Wall near Brandeburger Gate on November 11th, 1989!  Photo@ 25 Archiv Bundesstiftung Aufarbeitung - Uwe Gerig. (www.berlin.de/2013)
The Berlin Wall after the opening of the Wall near Brandeburger Gate on November 11th, 1989!
Photo@ 25 Archiv Bundesstiftung Aufarbeitung – Uwe Gerig. (www.berlin.de/2013)

You know how I love this glorious city right.

You know.

This city called Berlin.

I mean, I shout about it loud enough and it was just under a year ago that I introduced myself to you on this blog, when I wondered what the heck Berlin was all about anyway!

I mean, what’s the big deal?

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 25 years.

That’s right.

25 years!

A few days ago was October 3rd.

October 3rd is the 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.

You are leaving the American Sector! Photo credit: © Owen Franken/Corbis
You are leaving the American Sector!
Photo credit: © Owen Franken/Corbis

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

It’s a little complicated but after WWII, Germany was split up and divided by the allies as punishment, 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 took it 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 fleeing. 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 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.”

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,

The Berlin Wall.
The Berlin Wall.

STREETS ON BOTH SIDES OF THE WALL?

In May, I went on a brilliant walking tour with an organisation called the Real Berlin Experience Walking Tour in 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 Prenzlauerberg where I live now, the same thing occurred. There is a street called Bernauer Strasse on which the Berlin Wall also lay. 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! Photo@ frizztext
Smashing through the wall!
Photo@ 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.

It’s easy to forget that this situation was only 25 years ago. Most of you reading this blog, are probably older!

SO HOW DID THE BERLIN WALL ACTUALLY FALL?

Read on…..!


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.


East End Gallery: A Part of the Berlin Wall.
East End Gallery: A Part of the Berlin Wall.

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.”


Climbing up the Berlin Wall. Freedom! Freedom!!
Climbing up the Berlin Wall.
Freedom! Freedom!!

25 YEARS AFTER THE FALL OF THE BERLIN WALL

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 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Wall is again going to mobilise as many as people as possible.

Berlin is inviting Berliners, eyewitnesses who were here, and people of the world, to actively participate in the anniversary celebrations as balloon patrons, and to tell your personal stories about the Berlin Wall.

Two sides and periods, of the Berlin Wall.
Two sides and periods, of the Berlin Wall.

You, and I, are invited to be involved in looking back at the events of 1989, and reflecting on the connection to the present.

The stories, memories, and wishes expressed by balloon patrons for a peaceful world without walls, are going to be seen and collected at www.fallofthewall.com. The result will be a unique online gallery that commemorates and reflects on the Berlin Wall from today’s perspective. If you want to be a part of this unique moment, then please go to the website here.

ANYTHING ELSE?

Visualization of the LICHTGRENZE or Light Installations at Engelbecken  © Kulturprojekte Berlin WHITEvoid / Christopher Bauder, Photo@ Daniel Büche (www.berlin.de/2013)
Visualization of the LICHTGRENZE or Light Installations at Engelbecken
© Kulturprojekte Berlin WHITEvoid / Christopher Bauder, Photo@ Daniel Büche
(www.berlin.de/2013)

From the 7th to the 9th of November 2014, Berlin will once again be (temporarily) divided 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. 8,000 luminous, white balloons will mark the former course of the Wall. For more info about this: go here.

The highlight of the 25th year anniversary is a spectacular community event that will send all the balloons soaring into the sky. At the Brandenburg Gate, the Staatskapelle Berlin will play a live broadcast of the final movement of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with “Ode an die Freude” under the baton of Daniel Barenboim. For more info about this: go here.

Visualization of the LICHTGRENZE at Brandenburg Gate  © Kulturprojekte Berlin_WHITEvoid / Christopher Bauder. Photo@ Daniel Büche (www.berlin.de/2013).
Visualization of the LICHTGRENZE at Brandenburg Gate
© Kulturprojekte Berlin_WHITEvoid / Christopher Bauder. Photo@ Daniel Büche
(www.berlin.de/2013).

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

As if!!

Keep reading my blog. There is more to come!

Me relaxing at the Berlin Music Video Awards, 2014.
Me relaxing at the Berlin Music Video Awards, 2014.

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 so I will be returning to our adventures in Indonesia, and Qatar, in November.

As I told you last week, my huge surprise for you is that next week, I will be going to France! I can’t believe it. On my first (1st) ever press trip! My next post will be about Northern France. Yipee!

In October, I will be writing about the British National Theatre LIVE production. The next production coming up at Cinestar Berlin – Original is:

Skylight on: 30.10.14.

Frankenstein – Original Cast on: 13.11.14.

Frankenstein – Reversed Cast on: 27.11.14.

I’ll be participating in An Eat-the-world food Kreuzberg walking tour on 18.10.14. ‘So exciting. Yum!

DANIEL SLOSS – Live! with very special guest Jack Woodhead – is going to take place on 21.10.14 at the Quatsch Comedy Club in Berlin.

In October & November, Berlin will be celebrating and marking the 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall.

Following a smash-hit tour of the UK and Ireland, LET IT BE will descend on Berlin with a six (6) day exclusive showing of a celebration of The Beatles from 11.11.14 – 16.11.14 at the Admirals Palast.

October is going to be amazing.

Watch this space!
19-year-old guard Conrad Schumann on August 15, 1961 jumping over the barbed wire in his uniform while toting his machine gun. Photo@ artwork images - Klaus Lehnartz.
19-year-old guard Conrad Schumann on August 15, 1961 jumping over the barbed wire in his uniform while toting his machine gun.
Photo@ artwork images – Klaus Lehnartz.

Have you been to Berlin? Where were you in 1989?

See you in Berlin.

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