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Sunday, November 9, 2014
25 Years Ago Marks the Fall of the Berlin Wall:Berlin Wall: Thousands of balloons released to mark fall
WOW! I can't believe it's been 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall when this took place I was 8 years old when this Historical event took place. Here is what the BBC News reported on this 25 year Anniversary. Berlin Wall: Thousands of balloons released to mark fall The balloons were released into the Berlin night sky, as Jenny Hill reports
Gorbachev warns of 'new Cold War'
East Germany's trade in human beings
The Berlin Wall - in 60 secs Watch
Some 8,000 helium balloons have been released into the night sky over Germany's capital at the culmination of events to mark the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Earlier, Chancellor Angela Merkel said the fall of the wall had shown the world that dreams could come true.
Tens of thousands of people attended events, including a "citizen's party" at the Brandenburg Gate.
The Berlin Wall was built in 1961 to stop people fleeing the communist East.
Its fall in 1989 became a powerful symbol of the end of the Cold War.
The white balloons - perched on 3.6m poles to match the height of the wall and stretching for 15km (nine miles) - were released one by one to symbolise the breaching of the wall by crowds of protesters.
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Chancellor Angela Merkel places a rose in a remaining section of the wall
The Berlin State Orchestra under Daniel Barenboim played Beethoven's Ninth Symphony "Ode to Joy" in front of the Brandenburg Gate.
"We're the happiest people in the world and we're thrilled that you brought the Berlin Wall down 25 years ago," said the Mayor of Berlin, Klaus Wowereit, as the first balloons were sent aloft.
"Nothing and no-one can stand in the way of freedom."
The release came amid a massive open-air party at the Brandenburg Gate. Earlier at the party, UK performer Peter Gabriel sang a version of David Bowie's Heroes.
At the scene: Damian McGuinness, BBC News
For a weekend the balloons had become a part of the city, with Berliners strolling, jogging or cycling along the route.
Today not much of the Wall remains, and often you don't even notice when crossing between East and West. That's because, after 1989, Berliners wanted to destroy the much-hated barrier and rebuild their city.
But suddenly seeing the circuitous and often illogical line which tore through the city's heart was a reminder of the insanity of using concrete to split a city in two, dividing neighbourhoods, friends and families.
Now the balloons have floated off into the sky, each one accompanied by cheers from the crowd - a shining and delicate symbol of peace and light, in stark contrast to the brutality of the heavy slabs of grey concrete. And a powerful reminder of how 25 years ago, under pressure from ordinary Berliners, this deadly barrier suddenly lost its threat.
The word peace is projected on to the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin. 9 Nov 2014
The word "peace" was projected on to the Brandenburg Gate
Fireworks over Brandenburg Gate followed the release of the balloons, 9 Nov
Fireworks over Brandenburg Gate followed the release of the balloons
'We can change things'
The day's events began with a brass band playing, evoking the trumpets which brought down the walls of the biblical city of Jericho.
Chancellor Merkel, who grew up in East Germany, and other officials laid roses in one of the remaining sections of the wall.
Chancellor Merkel speaking at new information centre on Bernauer Strasse, Berlin - 9 November
Chancellor Merkel said it was easy to forget what had happened in Berlin
Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev attends a ceremony in Berlin, 9 Nov
Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev attends a ceremony in Berlin
Festivities in Berlin, 9 Nov
Tens of thousands joined the festivities in the German capital
Peter Gabriel performs at the Brandenburg Gate party, 9 Nov
Peter Gabriel performs at the Brandenburg Gate party
Speaking at the opening of a new information centre about the Wall, Ms Merkel said it was easy to forget what had happened and it was important to remember it.
"We can change things for the better," she said. "This is the message for... Ukraine, Iraq and other places where human rights are threatened.
"The fall of the Wall showed us that dreams can come true. Nothing has to stay as it is."
Recently Ms Merkel has revealed more details about her movements on the day that the Wall opened.
She told German TV on Saturday that she joined crowds heading towards West Berlin after a visit to the sauna, describing "an incredible feeling of happiness".
The chancellor was joined later at the Brandenburg Gate by former Polish trade union leader and president Lech Walesa and Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader.
The anniversary was also mentioned in an address by Pope Francis in Rome.
He told crowds in St Peter's Square: "Where there is a wall, there is a closing of hearts. We need bridges, not walls."
A visitor peeks into the former "death strip" between layers of the former Berlin Wall next to a former East German guard tower at the Berlin Wall Memorial at Bernauer Strasse. 8 Nov 2014
A guard tower still marks the "death strip" between layers of the former wall that divided Berlin
The first Trabant to cross from the East to the West 25 years ago, traverses the border again in commemoration - at the Ullitz crossing from Saxony into Bavaria, 9 Nov
The first Trabant to cross from the East to the West 25 years ago, traverses the border again in commemoration - at the Ullitz crossing from Saxony into Bavaria
The wall stretched for 155km (96 miles) through Berlin but today only about three kilometres of it still stands.
At least 138 people died trying to flee to West Berlin.
Within a year of the wall's collapse, Germany - divided after its defeat in World War Two - was reunited.
Striking a sombre note, Mr Gorbachev, 83, warned on Saturday that the world was on the brink of a new Cold War.
The BBC examines the rise and fall of the Berlin Wall, in 60 seconds
Tensions between the West and Russia have been raised by the crisis in Ukraine, which was part of the Soviet Union.
"Bloodshed in Europe and the Middle East against the backdrop of a breakdown in dialogue between the major powers is of enormous concern," he said.
"The world is on the brink of a new Cold War. Some are even saying that it's already begun."
Mr Gorbachev, as leader of the USSR in the late 1980s, is credited with rapprochement with the West and creating a more liberal atmosphere which led to the collapse of communist regimes in Eastern Europe in 1989. Here is the History on the Berlin Wall.
On August 13, 1961, the Communist government of the German Democratic Republic (GDR, or East Germany) began to build a barbed wire and concrete “Antifascistischer Schutzwall,” or “antifascist bulwark,” between East and West Berlin. The official purpose of this Berlin Wall was to keep Western “fascists” from entering East Germany and undermining the socialist state, but it primarily served the objective of stemming mass defections from East to West. The Berlin Wall stood until November 9, 1989, when the head of the East German Communist Party announced that citizens of the GDR could cross the border whenever they pleased. That night, ecstatic crowds swarmed the wall. Some crossed freely into West Berlin, while others brought hammers and picks and began to chip away at the wall itself. To this day, the Berlin Wall remains one of the most powerful and enduring symbols of the Cold War.
THE BERLIN WALL: THE PARTITIONING OF BERLIN
As World War II came to an end in 1945, a pair of Allied peace conferences at Yalta and Potsdam determined the fate of Germany’s territories. They split the defeated nation into four “allied occupation zones”: The eastern part of the country went to the Soviet Union, while the western part went to the United States, Great Britain and (eventually) France.
Did You Know?
On October 22, 1961, a quarrel between an East German border guard and an American official on his way to the opera in East Berlin very nearly led to what one observer called "a nuclear-age equivalent of the Wild West Showdown at the O.K. Corral." That day, American and Soviet tanks faced off at Checkpoint Charlie for 16 hours. Photographs of the confrontation are some of the most familiar and memorable images of the Cold War.
Even though Berlin was located entirely within the Soviet part of the country (it sat about 100 miles from the border between the eastern and western occupation zones), the Yalta and Potsdam agreements split the city into similar sectors. The Soviets took the eastern half, while the other Allies took the western. This four-way occupation of Berlin began in June 1945.
THE BERLIN WALL: BLOCKADE AND CRISIS
The existence of West Berlin, a conspicuously capitalist city deep within communist East Germany, “stuck like a bone in the Soviet throat,” as Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev put it. The Russians began maneuvering to drive the United States, Britain and France out of the city for good. In 1948, a Soviet blockade of West Berlin aimed to starve the western Allies out of the city. Instead of retreating, however, the United States and its allies supplied their sectors of the city from the air. This effort, known as the Berlin Airlift, lasted for more than a year and delivered more than 2.3 million tons of food, fuel and other goods to West Berlin. The Soviets called off the blockade in 1949.
After a decade of relative calm, tensions flared again in 1958. For the next three years, the Soviets–emboldened by the successful launch of the Sputnik satellite the year before and embarrassed by the seemingly endless flow of refugees from east to west (nearly 3 million since the end of the blockade, many of them young skilled workers such as doctors, teachers and engineers)–blustered and made threats, while the Allies resisted. Summits, conferences and other negotiations came and went without resolution. Meanwhile, the flood of refugees continued. In June 1961, some 19,000 people left the GDR through Berlin. The following month, 30,000 fled. In the first 11 days of August, 16,000 East Germans crossed the border into West Berlin, and on August 12 some 2,400 followed—the largest number of defectors ever to leave East Germany in a single day.
THE BERLIN WALL: BUILDING THE WALL
That night, Premier Khrushchev gave the East German government permission to stop the flow of emigrants by closing its border for good. In just two weeks, the East German army, police force and volunteer construction workers had completed a makeshift barbed wire and concrete block wall–the Berlin Wall–that divided one side of the city from the other.
Before the wall was built, Berliners on both sides of the city could move around fairly freely: They crossed the East-West border to work, to shop, to go to the theater and the movies. Trains and subway lines carried passengers back and forth. After the wall was built, it became impossible to get from East to West Berlin except through one of three checkpoints: at Helmstedt (“Checkpoint Alpha” in American military parlance), at Dreilinden (“Checkpoint Bravo”) and in the center of Berlin at Friedrichstrasse (“Checkpoint Charlie”). (Eventually, the GDR built 12 checkpoints along the wall.) At each of the checkpoints, East German soldiers screened diplomats and other officials before they were allowed to enter or leave. Except under special circumstances, travelers from East and West Berlin were rarely allowed across the border.
THE BERLIN WALL: 1961-1989
The construction of the Berlin Wall did stop the flood of refugees from East to West, and it did defuse the crisis over Berlin. (Though he was not happy about it, President Kennedy conceded that “a wall is a hell of a lot better than a war.”) Over time, East German officials replaced the makeshift wall with one that was sturdier and more difficult to scale. A 12-foot-tall, 4-foot-wide mass of reinforced concrete was topped with an enormous pipe that made climbing over nearly impossible. Behind the wall on the East German side was a so-called “Death Strip”: a gauntlet of soft sand (to show footprints), floodlights, vicious dogs, trip-wire machine guns and patrolling soldiers with orders to shoot escapees on sight.
In all, at least 171 people were killed trying to get over, under or around the Berlin Wall. Escape from East Germany was not impossible, however: From 1961 until the wall came down in 1989, more than 5,000 East Germans (including some 600 border guards) managed to cross the border by jumping out of windows adjacent to the wall, climbing over the barbed wire, flying in hot air balloons, crawling through the sewers and driving through unfortified parts of the wall at high speeds.
THE BERLIN WALL: THE FALL OF THE WALL
On November 9, 1989, as the Cold War began to thaw across Eastern Europe, the spokesman for East Berlin’s Communist Party announced a change in his city’s relations with the West. Starting at midnight that day, he said, citizens of the GDR were free to cross the country’s borders. East and West Berliners flocked to the wall, drinking beer and champagne and chanting “Tor auf!” (“Open the gate!”). At midnight, they flooded through the checkpoints.
More than 2 million people from East Berlin visited West Berlin that weekend to participate in a celebration that was, one journalist wrote, “the greatest street party in the history of the world.” People used hammers and picks to knock away chunks of the wall–they became known as “mauerspechte,” or “wall woodpeckers”—while cranes and bulldozers pulled down section after section. Soon the wall was gone and Berlin was united for the first time since 1945. “Only today,” one Berliner spray-painted on a piece of the wall, “is the war really over.”
The reunification of East and West Germany was made official on October 3, 1990, almost one year after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
The Commemorative Ceremony of 25th Anniversary of Berlin Wall Fall
The Berlin Wall : Documentary on the Berlin Wall from Construction to Destruction