30 Years On: The Fall of the Berlin Wall

It has been such a privilege to be a part of the 30th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. Not because I have any specific role in this huge celebration. But because I am so fortunate to live in this extraordinary capital.

At Brandenburg Gate, thirty thousand ribbons wave gently above my head. They are part of an installation by artist Patrick Shearn and on each is written a wish or hope. In front of the Gate itself is a stage, where a huge concert will be performed to mark Mauerfall – the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9th, 1989.

Brandenburg Gate

The stage at Brandenburg Gate

On the front of the stage, video footage from that monumental day plays silently, accompanied only by the melody of a lone guitarist, busking. Honestly, you can’t fail to be moved. We are with friends who were brought up in the former East and remember that weekend vividly. They tell us they will never forget the taste of freedom – something we all take for granted.

Wall Bernauer

Part of the Wall along Bernauer Straße – my walk or cycle to work

What remains of the Berlin Wall is all around me.  My regular journey to work as a TV reporter for Germany’s international broadcaster, DW, takes me along Bernauer Straße. Here, parts of the Wall have been preserved and the area has been turned into an open museum. 

Berlin Wall Memorial

A memorial to some of those who died trying to cross the Berlin Wall – including children.

There is a memorial to all those Germans who died trying to cross the Wall. There are photos on buildings of what it looked like here – including those lucky few who escaped through man-made tunnels.

And there are the steps marking out where those tunnels ran underground. 

We had friends staying last weekend and we visited the East Side Gallery in Friederschein. At 1.3 km long, this has become the world’s largest outdoor gallery.

It was here that after the Wall fell, artists from around Berlin and the world, decided to make their mark. There have been a few restorations over the years in order to preserve the paintings. And today it looks as good as new. ‘The Kiss’ is the most famous and it depicts the General Secretary of the Soviet Union, Leonid Brezhnev, with the head of the East German government (the DDR), Erich Honecker. 

My family at the Berlin Wall, 1979

My mother, sister and me at the Berlin Wall in 1979. (I’m on the left of the photo.)

Something else you may not know. I was born and lived in Germany until I was four. My father was in the British army here and in the late ’70s we came to Berlin to visit friends. The photo of my mother, sister and me in front of the Berlin Wall still amazes me.

And here I am – a few decades later – living in what was the former East. It’s a constant reminder that although we all have our differences, even walls can’t separate us for long. I feel very fortunate to live here.

3 Comments
  1. Darling that is the most marvellous piece that you have written on the 30 year celebration – it brought tears to my eyes. All love xxx

    Celia Forrest

    >

  2. Very interesting post thanks, Alex. I have found it all fascinating. So much so that I even watched our DW News coverage in the “zombie” hours between night shifts. A first!

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