Today’s Berlin is full of distressing monuments to the human resilience and sacrifice experienced before the fall of the Wall. Twenty-five years on, RT takes a look at past and present divides – both real and imagined – and where they may take us next.
On Friday, the German capital was graced with 8, 000 balloons, adorning the length of the old Berlin Wall. As this was taking place, RT’s Peter Oliver strolled along Bernauer Strasse and other historic locations where the Wall used to run, to see the transformations that have taken place.
Right on the very frontier of where the three-meter high wall used to be now stands the Reichstag and the offices of the German government. The surrounding landscape resembled a barren wasteland in the 1980s.
A no less iconic landmark is Potsdamer Platz, with its malls, movie theaters, myriad businesses and high-tech architecture – the bustling heart of Berlin. Like with many other such landmarks, the Wall ran slap-bang through the street. West Berliners used to climb makeshift stairs to peer at their “less fortunate” brethren.
For some, taking a glimpse at the East was motivated by pure curiosity. For others, it was the only opportunity to see their family and loved ones.
We then move to Bernauer Strasse – barely three subway stops away from the city’s absolute center; and where the wall claimed its first victim in 1961. Many people would leap to their deaths from the adjoining building that ran parallel to the Wall in a desperate bid to make it to the West.
Like one of many monuments to the victims’ plight and courage, the sight of the Wall there has been replaced by a beautiful park that tells their story.
And yet, while the German capital has largely left the pain of division behind, a new East-West divide is being formed, as though history never happened.
Marking a quarter century since the Berlin Wall was dismantled and crowds ran to greet each other in jubilation, a warning from former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev emphasizes the outright distrust between the former political blocs, which never went away: that we may see the two hemispheres on the brink of a fresh Cold War.
Chris Calle: 1980s - Fall of Berlin Wal
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