I really liked the idea. It was simple but symbolically effective. The effect was a bit anti-climactic, though.
While we were waiting for the “big bang” with approximately 3 million other people on Oberbaumbrücke, anticipation was rising and everybody was expecting… something. You know, like Independence Day style fireworks, although we knew that none were planned at this location. But everybody was so tense, it felt like New Year’s Eve – without the party. I thought the balloons were all going to go up at once. And for whatever reason, I also thought the balloons were going to be lit up (after thinking about it again, it obviously makes no sense, it’s not like they can make candles fly). Instead, the white helium balloons went up in a tediously slow “domino effect” style. Everyone around us was like… ‘oh – yeah. Sure. That’s it. Wait. What happened. Did anything happen? Oh, there’s a balloon. Aww. Okay. Let’s go home.’ It was quite amusing, actually. As always with Berlin doing “big things” in “big style”, it’s just slightly off.
Of course, the 9th of November is a very important date in the history of Berlin and Germany. Everybody remembers were they were 25 years ago when the Wall fell, except for those who were still young then or born after.
Like me. I grew up in the former West of Germany, and for me and most of my generation, there’s no such thing as a division. East/West was something I learned from history classes in school and it was basically a stupid concept really far away from my presence.
Only when I moved to Berlin I actually met people who identified as Ossis and respectively Wessis. I thought that was interesting – that people would still construct these borders. Of course, I know better now. Some of my best friends are only a couple of years older than me, and they remember indeed. They remember that their futures were supposed to be different from mine.
Maybe a couple of generations from now, even the last remnants of the German division will have faded for everyone, finally uniting the country into a stable nation (culturally), hopefully with the bonus of opening its borders for even more people regardless of their ethnicity and status.
On such a day, we’re all encouraged to think about the German past and learn from it, in order to not fuck it up (again) for the future.
And yet hardly anybody takes the time to point out all the actual, material walls that are being built and justified right in this very moment somewhere else in the world. I thought I would at least mention it.