Sunday, November 9, 2014

Berlin - 25 anniversary of fall of the Berlin wall

While I post this, Berlin is celebrating 25 anniversary of fall of Berlin wall. Wish I could have stayed back to witness this event in Berlin.  I had to come back to catch another flight to Singapore. But, I am glad that I was there this week to see curtain raiser for the celebrations for this big event and to feel the festive mood of the city.
These blue boxes were all around
I had forgotten about the history of  Berlin wall except that I knew there was a wall in Berlin. I am not a serious student of history. But when I saw Berliners being so nostalgic about the wall I was intrigued to know more.  ‘This was  East and  that was west ’ were the most heard phrase during my stay in Berlin this week.
Brandenburg gate.. stage installations in progress behind the gate
The fun part of  any travel is that it takes you to unseen pages of history in our formative years. For those of you like me who would like to know why did they build wall between East and West Germany ? The story goes like this.
After the second world war, West Germany was ruled by US, Great Britain and France. East was under the Soviet Union’s rule. The whole nation was divided between democracy and communism. Within few years of this divide, one could see that both the sides were growing distinctly in different directions. West  Germany was growing economically with its capitalist approach. But East was not making any march forward under communist regime.  More youngsters were migrating to West from East Germany and  East  started to feel the lack of youths in its demography. So communists decided to protect East from West and they raised walls on one fine night. After that  night, for next 25 years people had to be part of the nation they slept that night. Without their approval people of Berlin, became West and East Berliners. It is difficult to imagine the cold war days situation in a globalized world of today.
1961 building  which doesn't have windows towards the wall. Sorry for picture quality
The border was protected with high raised walls, guarded with high alert level of security, secured with automated war equipments. Arrangement was made, ensuring no one escapes from East to West Germany. They went to the extent to close the window of the houses facing the very wall. I saw a building infront of the Wall memorial. There are  no  windows towards the wall for 30 feet high rise building. 
Remains of the Berlin walll
Next question how did the wall fall ?
As per Berliners, the wall fell down on one fine night accidentally the way it was raised. A spokesperson from East Germany got a message to announce to the world that there would be check posts made to allow people move to both sides. However, he was not informed on the rules and regulations of this operation. While answering to the question , ‘when will that happen?’ he unknowingly answered ‘ immediately’. That’s it. Millions of People gathered at gates. Security force was confused. When they tried to get connected to officers they didn’t get any proper direction. To avoid violence, security opened the gate  to create history. People from both the sides entered East to West, West to East. In this way security people protecting the gate at Berlin created history. People celebrated the unification. Some of them started breaking the wall with hammers. The wall started to crumble, and within few days people become one. Since, then the Germans became citizens of unified Germany. 
Pieces of the wall is available as a souvenir to buy from the shops
The Berlin wall pieces for sale at souvenir shop
For non –Germans it is just a wall. Being in Berlin during this celebration week I can understand what it means to them. Some of them could see their family members after 25 years ! Joy that freedom brings is limitless.
As part of celebrations, thousands of Illuminated white balloons were lit all the way for about 15 kms where wall once existed. This art installation is called as Lichtgrenze. I I was told these ballons would be released to air today between 7-7.30 pm on November 9. There was a big stage set next to  Brandenburg gate. There were mock skits all over there. There were LCD screens in all major junctions showing the history of the wall. The world without walls is the vision of many thinkers across the globe. Germans did it in their own way on November 9th


  1. Thanks for re-telling the story. I wish our history lessons were as interesting as your narration. Vidhya

    1. :-) You made my day Vidya .. Thanks.. I didn't have any memory of what I studied in schools about world wars.

  2. very inspiring story...
    Joy of Freedom is indeed limitless!!

    1. Isn't it Uma ? Thanks. Can't imagine a wall to be constructed between neighboring cities where our beloved ones live

  3. I am so glad to land up on this post Girija. Its a story well portrayed by you. Thank you for sharing the info. Loved reading it :)

  4. Thanks Tara. Glad that you read it. Any inspiring words means a lot for a newbie like me :-)