Build Bridges, Not Walls | 25th Anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall

Here is an arial shot tracing the former wall through the city of Berlin.

Berlin Wall Falling, falling of Berlin Wall, 25th anniversary falling of Berlin Wall

8,000 balloons in Berlin tracing the path of the former wall, which fell 25 years ago today, November 8, in 1989

I’m reposting this article in the Int’l Business Times, in which they’ve documented the 8,000 white balloons erected to trace the path of the former Berlin Wall from all different vantage points.

The light installation was developed by two artists, Christopher and Marc Bauder, set up along a 15 km (9.3 mi) stretch. The balloons were then released. One major states that they represent “Peace and Freedom”. This article has a video showing the celebration of the release of the balloons into the sky among crowd-packed streets in Berlin.

Put into effect in 1961, the Wall was built by the German Democratic Republic – (GDR) East Germany, and remained until November 9th, 1989 – 25 years ago today. The Wall extended hundreds of miles outside of Berlin, including many towns which were part of the Eastern Bloc. One man with whom I got a ride hitchhiking while traveling through Germany, was a football coach, raised in the East. He was lucky, his profession was easily absorbed by the West. However, many of his friends who had professions and degrees, weren’t so lucky. He candidly stated that in fact the comfort and security that people of the East had – by having all of their major needs provided (education/housing/food) – lacked the incentive to keep reaching forward in their careers. For example, because of not having the push that goes along with the pressures of capitalism – to strive and succeed in competition with others – left a population somewhat resigned to complacency. [I, the author, do not condone capitalism either – as I think that it leans towards consumerism and away from a healthy cooperation between people and their environment and appreciation and respect for all living things.]

The falling of the Wall lead to Germany’s Unification Treaty that was signed on the 20th of September in 1990. I mentioned being among the celebrations of Berlin’s ‘Tag der Einheit/Unification Day’ while living in Berlin in this former blog.

This youtube video highlighting the former Wall through Berlin features the music that is sooooo typical of Berlin’s down tempo minimalist sound! The former Wall was constructed by the Soviet empire to keep the Eastern residents under Soviet rule, from entering the West. Ironically, when I first moved to Berlin in 1995, I soon recognized that residents of each side, still held this border within. I’d ask locals who lived on each side to join me to attend an event on the other side, and found that there was a reluctance. Young residents of the former East, had resistance to go to a happening in the West those in the West snubbed going to an event in the East. Naturally, as an Ausländer, I didn’t have this Wall in my head. I was surprised that it lingered in the hearts of even the youth.

I discovered this article in the New York Times by Michael Kimmelman since posting this blog, “Berlin After the Wall: A Microcosm of the World’s Chaotic Change”. It features video footage and interviews of how the light bridge was constructed. More importantly, the author talks about the expectations of how the city would change and about how the world has changed since the wall fell. He interviews a scientist and former civil rights leader of former East Germany, Jens Reich. “During those first years after the wall came down, the city was gloomy, industries were dying, communities dying,” Mr. Reich said. “Many Berliners fled to the suburbs. The elderly left. But then, unexpectedly, young people started moving into neighborhoods like mine, Prenzlauer Berg in the former East, and now children of those who left want to come back, except they can’t afford the rents because all the foreigners are driving prices up.”

The photo below is along the Spree, in a location which 15 years ago was still an empty lot with a bunch of cranes. All of this area had been bombed and flattened. The rubble since long gone, but still nothing remained. Since then, the array of government buildings were constructed, when the capital of Germany was relocated once again back to Berlin in 2000 from Bonn, Germany. This shot is fairly close to the Reichstag along the Spree river which runs through Berlin.

Balloons tracing path of former Berlin Wall along Spree river in Berlin.

among the 8,000 balloons tracing the former path of the Berlin Wall, which fell November 9th, 1989

Strangely, as this article in the LA Times points out, the far-right National Front party has gained ground in France.