On November 9, 2019, the fall of the Berlin Wall will celebrate its 30th anniversary. On this occasion, more than 200 events will take place in Berlin, dealing with topics such as reunification, the construction of the Berlin Wall, the division of the world during the Cold War and the overcoming of the Wall by the Peaceful Revolution of 1989.
Peaceful Revolution Exhibitions
The official focus is on the locations in Berlin where the peaceful revolution took place. There, the historical events will be presented in open-air exhibitions. At six of the seven locations, large-format light installations will also be projected onto facades after dark. Three locations I want to highlight are:
On November 4, 1989, the largest protest demonstration in GDR history took place on Alexanderplatz. Hundreds of thousands took to the streets for freedom of travel, press and opinion and another democratic GDR. Film footage is projected onto the surrounding facades throughout the week after dark.
While thousands of people demonstrated in East Berlin on October 7, 1989, the SED leadership celebrated the 40th anniversary of the GDR in the Palace of the Republic, which was demolished in 2008. The east facade of the Humboldt Forum will therefore be illuminated during the week with the portrait of the Palace of the Republic. Additionally, historical tours will be offered several times a day.
On November 9, 1989, people celebrated the fall of the Wall from the top of the Brandenburger Gate. The images went around the world and have become iconic symbols of freedom and the reunification of the Germans. This is commemorated by the art installation “Visions in Motion” by US artist Patrick Shearn. Around 120,000 colorful ribbons were knotted together to form a 120-meter-long carpet that blows across the Straße des 17. Juni.
This Saturday, November 9th, the anniversary will be celebrated with a big stage show at the Brandenburg Gate. Among others, the Staatskapelle under the direction of Daniel Barenboim, the rap duo Zugzogen Maskulin and DJ legend WestBam will perform. In addition, the show will feature plays, dance performances, talks with contemporary witnesses, light shows and fireworks. The event starts at 17.30 hrs. More importantly: the festivities will be screened live on public German TV.
The Cold War
You may ask yourself: who needs a 24-episode documentary series about anything, much less about the Cold War?
I do. I am that person. Nothing – not even 13 years of intense German schooling – will teach me more about modern history than the epic BBC production that I found on YouTube. If you’re even vaguely interested in geopolitics and want to understand the modern World as we know it, I think this could be the binge of your lifetime.
But if you’ve only got so much time and simply want to catch up on what happened in Berlin, check out episode 4, 9 and 23.
The Walls of the 21st Century
There’s a literal wall in Palestine. There is still a figurative wall between South and North Korea – another remnant of the Cold War, and a much greater divide between one nation. There may very well soon be a wall between Mexico and the USA. Is there irony in celebrating the Fall of the Berlin Wall, when so many others are underway?
Against this background, it is only natural that the people of Berlin should be interested in Korea – the world’s only country still divided. “UnWall”, the title of this exhibition, stands for the demolition of the wall. As its name suggests, the exhibition focuses on the experience of division – linking Korea and Germany – the Berlin Wall and the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), both of which emerged as a result of the division, as well as the narratives about them.
- Vernissage: 8.11.2019 (Fr), 7 PM
- Kunstquartier Bethanien, Mariannenplatz 2, 10997 Berlin
- UnWall information
Good news for couples and families who want to celebrate reunification in Berlins public transport network: on the occasion of the fall of the Berlin Wall, a festival week ticket (valid from 4 to 10 November) will be sold. It’s worth 7 days of BVG and S-Bahn at 30€ (same price as the usual week ticket) – but includes travel for two adults and up to three children. The ticket will be available at all BVG ticket machines.
- BVG Website “Mauerfall-Ticket”
- 30€, valid 7 days 4-10 November for two adults
No Photos On The Dancefloor
No story about Berlin is complete without an excursion into techno, hedonism and drugs. As soon as the Wall fell in 1989, empty buildings, wasteland and factories were transformed into clubs, bars, galleries and studios. This scene revived the city and the reorientation of an entire generation of young people. Names like Planet, Tresor and Ufo became eponymous with Techno. Berlins club life became the final act of youthful European subversion after the Cold War. With the exhibition project No Photos on the Dance Floor! Berlin 1989-Today, the Berlin club scene has been historically documented since the fall of the Berlin Wall and can be experienced “live” on club nights at C/O Berlin.
The exhibition is accompanied by a multitude of discussion panels, parties and talks.
- No Photos On The Dance Floor! Berlin 1989–Today
- exhibition running til November 30, 2019
- c/o Berlin, full program on website
I know there are plenty of movies about the Berlin Wall. One that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed was the German feature “Ballon“. The captivating thriller is based on a true story of two families in 1979 who attempt to escape from the GDR to West Germany by crossing the border in a hot air balloon. The movie, while lacking here and there the grandiosity of a typical Hollywood blockbuster, is a packing journey filled with fear, paranoia and the harsh reality of life in the dictatorship.