Lichtgrenze: 25 Jahre Mauerfall

For the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the city had planned a very intriguing and fantastic concept: the Lichtgrenze, a wall constructed of balloons that lit up the former border between West-Berlin and the GDR. After two days of illuminating (and thereby remembering) the division, the balloons went up into the air last night.
10 Nov ’14 by Sara Events, Street Life

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.

Four comments

  1. Oh dear Sarah, I felt exactly like you about the balloons!!!Maybe it would have been better to do it during daytime and all at once

  2. Ein sehr schöner Post :) Sehr lustig deine Beschreibung des gestrigen Events.

    Ich habe auch sehr lange sehr wenig von der damaligen Trennung mitbekommen, als auch von der Trennung im Kopf, die heute noch herrscht. Einerseits, weil ich zur Zeit des Mauerfalls erst 4 war, zum Anderen, weil ich in München aufgewachsen bin. In Berlin ist die Einteilung zu Ost und West noch stark, das erscheint mir bis heute merkwürdig und etwas irritierend. Meine “Ossi”-Freunde müssen da öfter mal ein paar Späßchen über sich ergehen lassen. Ich kann da gar nicht mitreden, ehrlich gesagt. Ich musste mir erst mal Goodbye Lenin reinziehen und mich von Berliner Freunden über Nudossi und kalten Hund belehren lassen.

  3. The effect actually looked pretty cool on telly, perhaps partially due to the dramatic tune of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.

  4. @Diana: I think it would have been just too much of an orginaizational hassle to time all these 8000 people to release their ballon at the same moment. Therefore, the domino-style was probably the easier choice.