The First Art Newspaper on the Net Established in 1996 United States Thursday, November 27, 2014


Germany Celebrates Memory of Berlin Wall Falling with Museum Opening and Memorials
German Chancellor Angela Merkel tours an exhibition during the opening of the new museum of German history Villa Schoeningen in Potsdam November 8, 2009. REUTERS/Bernd Settnik/Pool.

By: Matt Moore, Associated Press Writer

BERLIN (AP).- With concerts and memorials on Monday, Germans will celebrate the day the Berlin Wall came crashing down 20 years ago.

On that cold night, they danced atop the wall, arms raised in victory, hands clasped in friendship and giddy hope. Years of separation and anxiety melted into the unbelievable reality of freedom and a future without border guards, secret police, informers and rigid communist control.

Germans are celebrating with concerts boasting Beethoven and Bon Jovi; a memorial service for the 136 people killed trying to cross over from 1961 to 1989; candle lightings and 1,000 towering plastic foam dominoes to be placed along the wall's route and tipped over.

On Nov. 9, 1989, East Germans came in droves, riding their sputtering Trabants, motorcycles and rickety bicycles. Hundreds, then thousands, then hundreds of thousands crossed over the following days.

Stores in West Berlin stayed open late and banks gave out 100 Deutschemarks in "welcome money," then worth about $50, to each East German visitor.

The party lasted four days and by Nov. 12 more than 3 million of East Germany's 16.6 million people had visited, nearly a third of them to West Berlin, the rest through gates opening up along the rest of the fenced, mined frontier that cut their country in two.

Sections of the nearly 155 kilometers (100 miles) of wall were pulled down and knocked over. Tourists chiseled off chunks to keep as souvenirs. Tearful families reunited. Bars gave out free drinks. Strangers kissed and toasted each other with champagne.

Klaus-Hubert Fugger, a student at the Free University in West Berlin, was having drinks at a pub when people began coming "who looked a bit different."

Customers bought the visitors round after round. By midnight, instead of going home, Fugger and three others took a taxi to the Brandenburg Gate, long a no man's land, and scaled the 12-foot (nearly four meter) wall with hundreds of others.

"There were really like a lot of scenes, like people crying, because they couldn't get the situation," said Fugger, now 43. "A lot of people came with bottles" of champagne and sweet German sparkling wine.

Fugger spent the next night on the wall, too. A newsmagazine photo shows him wrapped in a scarf.

"Then the wall was crowded all over, thousands of people, and you couldn't move ... you had to push through the masses of the people," he said.

Angela Merkel, Germany's first chancellor from the former communist East, recalled the euphoria in an address last week to the U.S. Congress.

"Where there was once only a dark wall, a door suddenly opened and we all walked through it: onto the streets, into the churches, across the borders," Merkel said. "Everyone was given the chance to build something new, to make a difference, to venture a new beginning."

The wall the communists built at the height of the Cold War and which stood for 28 years is mostly gone. Some parts still stand, at an outdoor art gallery or as part of an open-air museum. Its route through the city is now streets, shopping centers, apartment houses. The only reminder of it are a series of inlaid bricks that trace its path.

Checkpoint Charlie, the prefab that was long the symbol of the Allied presence and of Cold War tension, has been moved to a museum in western Berlin.

Potsdamer Platz, the vibrant square that was destroyed during World War II and became a no man's land during the Cold War, is full of upscale shops selling everything from iPods to grilled bratwursts.

At a ceremony in Berlin Oct. 31, Helmut Kohl, the German chancellor who presided over the opening of the wall, stood side by side with the superpower presidents of the time, George H.W. Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev.

After the decades of shame that followed the Nazi era, Kohl suggested, the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of their country 11 months later gave Germans pride.

"We don't have many reasons in our history to be proud," said Kohl, now 79. But as chancellor, "I have nothing better, nothing to be more proud of, than German reunification."

In an interview in Moscow with Associated Press Television News, Gorbachev said it was a catalyst for peace.

"No matter how hard it was, we worked, we found mutual understanding and we moved forward. We started cutting down nuclear weapons, scaling down the armed forces in Europe and resolving other issues," he said.

It all began with a routine late afternoon news conference.

On Nov. 9, 1989, Guenter Schabowski, a member of East Germany's ruling Politburo, casually declared that East Germans would be free to travel to the West immediately.

Later, he tried to clarify his comments and said the new rules would take hold at midnight, but events moved faster as the word spread.

At a remote crossing in Berlin's south, Annemarie Reffert and her 15-year-old daughter made history by becoming the first East Germans to cross the border.

Reffert, now 66, remembers the East German soldiers being at a loss when she tried to cross the border.

"I argued that Schabowski said we were allowed to go over," she said. The border soldiers relented. A customs official was astonished that she had no luggage.

"All we wanted was to see if we really could travel," Reffert said.

Years later, Schabowski told a TV interviewer that he had gotten mixed up. It was not a decision but a draft law that the Politburo was set to discuss. He thought it was a decision that had already been approved.

That night, around midnight, border guards swung open the gates. Through Checkpoint Charlie, down the Invalidenstrasse, across the Glienicke Bridge, scores of people streamed into West Berlin, unabated, unfettered, eyes agog.

___

Associated Press Writers Nesha Starcevic and Laura Stevens in Frankfurt and Melissa Eddy and Kirsten Grieshaber in Berlin contributed to this report.



Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.


Berlin Wall | Concerts | Memorials |




Today's News

November 9, 2009

Germany Celebrates Memory of Berlin Wall Falling with Museum Opening and Memorials

Vibrant Post-Impressionist Posters and Prints Portray the Avant-Garde

Martin Gropius Bau Offers a Contemporary Look at Islamic Visual Expression

Camden Arts Center to Present the Work of German-Born Artist Eva Hesse

Major Exhibition of the Work of Andreas Hofer at Sammlung Goetz

Australian Artist Pam Hallandal Wins Dobell Prize for Drawing 2009

Arno Fischer Retrospective at the Art and Exhibition Hall in Bonn

Group Exhibition Presents Discarded Materials Transformed into Works of Art

Conner Contemporary Presents Koen Vanmechelen's Cosmopolitan Chicken

First Solo Exhibition of Gianfranco Baruchello at Galerie Michael Janssen

Duncan Speakman Re-Examines the Classic British Street Scene

Enlarged Photographs and Models by Walter Wick at the Arkell Museum

Exhibition at Jan Krugier Gallery Explores the Dynamic and Static Notions of Stillness

Jeu de Paume Presents, "All Over, a Piece of Internet Art" by Samuel Bianchini

Response and Memory: The Art of Beverly Buchanan to Open at the Morris Museum of Art

Künstlerhaus Stuttgart Presents Exhibition Dedicated to English Composer Cornelius Cardew

November UBS 12 X 12 Presents Haptic and Lisa Slodki at Chicago's MCA

Influences of the Silk Road at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts

Carnegie to Present Installation by Designer Cecil Balmond at Forum 64

Most Popular Last Seven Days



1.- Greece holds breath as skeleton found in Alexander the Great-era tomb at Amphipolis

2.- Spain mourns the death of art collector Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart, Duchess of Alba

3.- Meet the ancestors: Exhibition at Bordeaux gallery reveals faces of prehistoric humans

4.- Getty Foundation and partners launch free of charge online art collection catalogues

5.- Historic photos of dead Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara resurface in small Spanish town

6.- Exhibition showcases the first two 'Poesie' created by Titian following their restoration

7.- O'Keeffe painting sells for more than three times the previous world auction record for any female artist

8.- Crystal Bridges announces the departure of museum President Don Bacigalupi

9.- artnet Auctions offers a later example of Yayoi Kusama's important Infinity-Nets series

10.- 'Degenerate art' should go back to museums: German advisor Jutta Limbach

Related Stories



Leaders from Around the World Celebrate 20th Anniversary of Fall of Berlin Wall



Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 

Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez - Marketing: Carla Gutiérrez
Special Contributor: Liz Gangemi - Special Advisor: Carlos Amador
Contributing Editor: Carolina Farias

Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org theavemaria.org juncodelavega.org facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site