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Remembering the Fall of the Wall 25 years ago

9 November 2014 is the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

© Kulturprojekte Berlin/WHITEvoid/Christopher Bauder/Foto Daniel Bueche - Light Limit

The catalyst for the Fall of the Wall was a simple question. During a press conference, which was broadcast live, an Italian journalist asked the spokesman for the East German government, Günter Schabowski, when the new GDR travel law would go into effect. Initially, Schabowski responded in a confused manner, and then said: “To my knowledge, it goes … is immediate, at once”. This sentence initiated the end of the German Democratic Republic. Thousands of East German set out for the border crossings. At first there was chaos, but then the GDR border officials yielded to the onslaught and opened the Berlin crossings. Thus the Wall fell, 28 years after its construction.

For a time the historic date of 9 November was under discussion as the day to mark the national holiday of united Germany, but out of consideration for the commemoration of the Kristallnacht, which took place on 9 November 1938 and which saw the murder of over a thousand Jews, the burning of over 2,000 synagogues and the brutal plundering of Jewish-owned shops, the date was rejected and 3 October became the public holiday marking the reunification of East and West Germany.

For the people who fought for freedom

Nevertheless, on the 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Wall on 9 November a big citizens celebration will be held at the Brandenburg Gate under the motto “Courage for Freedom”, in which, along with international artists such as Peter Gabriel, Daniel Barenboim and Udo Lindenberg, the Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel will take part. The 9th of November will be dedicated to the people who courageously fought for freedom in the GDR, says government spokesman Steffen Seibert.

In the days preceding the event, the action “Light Border” will trace the former course of the Berlin Wall with 8,000 luminous balloons over a length of 15 kilometres.

Fall of the Berlin Wall, 9 November 1989