Please sign in to post.

Berlin Wall - Events for the 20 year Anniversary of the Fall

For all of you people planning trips to Germany, you might want to take a look at what is planned in Berlin for this year. Different events going on all year to commemorate the fall of the wall. The website is nice and easy to use to find events for different months.

This WAS a momentous occasion and it was so wonderful watching all these people up on the wall, coming through and going shopping, being excited about such simple things like being able to buy as many oranges as they wanted. When I first came over here in '86, our unit took a trip to the Fulda Gap. What a moving experience, to see this no mans land of barbed wire, land mines and guard towers. It was surreal.

So, if you have some interest in modern history, make sure you go to Berlin and help them celebrate!

http://www.mauerfall09.de/en/calendar/article/132/year/2009/month/2/

Posted by
2297 posts

I'm with Sharon - can't believe that so much time has gone by, it feels like it happened yesterday.

Thanks for the link, Jo. Comes in handy as I'm currently teaching German to a young kid who's leaving for Germany at the end of March. His only must-see destination so far is Berlin. Like many, he knew of the Berlin wall when we discussed some cultural issues during our lesson, but he had no idea that there was a wall much longer and much more fortified separating East and West Germany.

Posted by
324 posts

Jo, thanks for the reminder. I, too, was surprised to see you write that it's already been 20 years. That was an exciting time, when courage and conviction triumphed, and let a bit of light into the darkness of the world.

Posted by
9106 posts

Courage, and conviction, and also a bit of luck:) The wall's days were numbered in 1989, but on the night the gates opened, a spokesperson from the East German Government misread instructions from his superiors on live television. He announced that East Germans would be able to freely travel between the two halves of the city. When he should have said East Germans needed to apply for some sort of permit scheme to cross. But word quickly spread and the crossing points were flooded with citizens eager to try their first Big Mac:) The border guards were powerless to stop the mob, people-power prevailed and the rest is history!

Posted by
386 posts

I never forget that day - 4th of November 1989. I was living in the States then: I was reduced to tears, I was so incredibly moved and happy. While I don't have German roots, it was clear that the days of communism and the Iron Curtain were coming to an end, and that soon the rest of the Eastern Bloc countries would follow, and they did.
In 2003 I went to explore my Hungarian roots - I took the Hydrofoil to Bratislava, then Budapest, seeing that stretch of the Danube and the world for the very first time, despite growing up a stones throw away.
It was simply fantastic.

While the EU governing body is often criticized and ridiculed, don't ever forget the European dream behind it! East and West united again - we have sworn never to go to war with each other again, but to go hand in hand from here on out.

The only other historic event that made such a deep impact on me personally, was 9/11.

Posted by
9010 posts

Well, they had the nerve to build the darn wall on my birthday, so I have a personal link to it.

I also admire the Berlin airlift and all the logistics that went with it. It was really sad when they closed Rhein Main Air base a couple of years ago. This was truly an amazing feat. I got to meet some of the pilots and mechanics this past summer. I even got "the candy bomber's" autograph and got to shake all of their hands and thank them for their service.

I guess I just like all this Berlin history stuff. Now I want to go up and tour those escape tunnels. That looks so fascinating!

Posted by
12040 posts

I remember it very clearly... back then, CNN actually reported current events from around the world. I don't recall if I watched it live, but the images were broadcast that same day.

I know someone who served in the Berlin Brigade at the time, which was considered the most fun, but potentially dangerous assignment in Europe. He remember his orders from his superiors very clearly - "We don't know exactly what's going on, but we know it's not an invasion. Just stand back and let it happen."

Posted by
5678 posts

I too cried when it came down. I first visited Berlin in the early 70's in winter. Our college group stayed in the west. But a smaller group of us took the SBahn to the East. We had to get back by 11 PM. I remember so well the Friedrich Strasse station and the guards giving us just enough of a hard time to make us nervous. When the whole group went over it was to visit museum island. I remember it all being so very, very gray in the east. When I went back again summer 2007 I was overwhelmed by the differences. There is a Burger King in Friedrichstrasse, not a McDonalds, but a Burger King! And Alexander Platz isn't a vast wasteland. Interestingly though, when I told someone who had lived in the East in those days that I thought that my memories of it all being so gray might have been colored so to speak, but the fact that it was winter and it rained. He said, no, it was gray. I'm so amazed that it's been 20 years. It's a great city to visit today.

Pam

Posted by
208 posts

Jo, I was working in Frankfurt when I was 19 back in the mid 60's. I remember my trip from Frankfurt to Berlin by train. When we reached the East German border it was about midnight. The E/German guards did come on the train and look around, but mostly I remember dozens of them with machine guns and guard dogs patrolling the outside of the train. It was the same way on the return trip. Once into Berlin we were ok. The wall was up and several were killed the weekend I was there trying to escape. You could walk in the west zone and see machine gun towers and guns in the windows of the buildings in the east. They were about every 300 yards or so. Many flowers along the west side in memory of those killed trying to get out. Always amazed me how West Berlin operated and was a great city and 150 yards away desolation and opression.

Posted by
5678 posts

Tony, I remember those guards too. We traveled by bus from Stuttgart to Berlin. When we hit the DDR the East German Guards came on the bus. It was winter and they had these fantastic gray coats. They reminded me of the Winkies from the Wizard of Oz. We'd all been told by our professors that we were take the whole process very seriously and not make jokes. It's just wonderful that this has changed in our lifetimes. Pam

Posted by
100 posts

I have a friend who was living in Switzerland at the time. He invited me to come over to Germany for the concert celebrating the wall coming down. I didn't go and I have kicked myself ever since. Twenty years ago!! Man I am getting old.

Posted by
2297 posts

I grew up in West Germany and visited relatives in East Germany about once a year. We couldn't go more often cause we couldn't afford the "Zwangsumtausch": they made us exchange money, something like 25 DM/person/day which was a lot 30 years ago for just visiting your aunt sleeping on couches there and you are a family of 5! We tried to spend the money by having family reunions at restaurans, but it wasn't easy to get reservations at decent places. Often 90% of the restaurants had to remain empty because they didn't get enough supplies, i.e. food!

I got an inkling that something was changing when my aunt, who was the most non-political person I knew, told us that she started joining the thousands on the street every Monday night in Leizpig - with her then 7 yo daughter holding her hand.

My biggest regret right now is that I haven't been back to Leipzig and not seen my aunt since the late 1980s. The last trip to Leipzig with my siblings and father was just horrible and we stopped going after that: on the way back our car was stopped and searched as usual at the border crossing. But in addition, my father was taken inside and questioned. We children (and we were children) were left to ourselves only with half a dozen soldiers surrounding the car and their machine guns pointing at us. My father returned after about an hour - the longest hour in my life ....