It was a Wall that not just divided a country and a city, but also separated families and friends. The Berlin Wall, which was brought down 25 years ago on November 9, 1989, cut through areas that were once reliant on one and another, and even split homes.
A total of 138 people, including 8 soldiers, were killed in the conflict, in which people wanted to move from East Berlin to West Berlin.
As Berlin kicked off the official celebrations on Sunday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the country would always be grateful for the courage of East Germans who took to the streets to protest.
Terming it “nothing short of a miracle” that the Wall came down without a shot being fired, Merkel said, “It was a day that showed us the yearning for freedom cannot be forever suppressed.”
Merkel opened an overhauled museum at the site of the present Berlin Wall Memorial on Bernauer Strasse street, which still has some surviving sections of the Wall.
A couple, whose story finds a mention at the DDR Museum, was separated for 29 years after the Wall came up. While Wolfgang Aue lived in West Berlin, his wife, Helga Aue, and their two children stayed in East Berlin. The couple could spend only their summer holidays together in Hungary, or meet on public holidays, until the Wall came down. After 29 years, they finally moved in together and lived in the west part of the city.
More than a million people, out on the streets of Berlin on an overcast, bitterly cold Sunday, heard of and read about many such heart wrenching tales.
Thousands who had gathered on the east side of the Brandenburg Gate — the symbol of German unity — were glued to big screens playing documentaries, waiting for the fireworks show. On the other side, 8,000 illuminated balloons tied along a 15-km stretch of the original wall made for perfect photo taking opportunities. The celebrations will reach a crescendo when the lit up balloons are released in the air (around midnight IST), symbolising the fall of the Wall.
The reporter has travelled to Berlin as a guest of the German Consulate, Delhi