At Brandenburg Gate, Berliners, Germans from elsewhere and visitors from all over the world celebrated the fall of the Wall on Saturday with an impressive stage show. Tens of thousands listened to President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and musical performances.
At the fall of the 30th anniversary celebration of the fall of the Berlin Wall at Brandenburg Gate, Steinmeier said the Wall was gone. But new walls in society had developed since 1989. They needed to be pulled down. These walls were made of frustration, anger and hatred. They were walls of speechlessness and estrangement, the German President stated.
Moment of Silence for Victims
Everyone in Germany could contribute to getting rid of those walls, Steinmeier told a crowd of tens of thousands. “We must not allow people to be marginalized or attacked”, he said. Democracy should not be ridiculed. These statements against Germany’s radical right-wingers who gained a lot of ground in the past years were applauded by many.
Berlin’s Governing Mayor Müller said values like peace, freedom and democracy needed to be defended every day. It was necessary to oppose populists who were spreading hatred and agitation. Müller talked about the peaceful revolution in the GDR which had been an “incredible accomplishment”. Those involved had been very courageous. And he commemorated the victims of the communist dictatorship in East Berlin.
A prominent former GDR civil rights activist, Marianne Birthler, took the stage too. For those who were killed while trying to flee the country and those whose lives were destroyed by the communist regime, she asked the crowd to observe a moment of silence.
Diverse Music Program
In spite of the rain which came down on Saturday afternoon, many Berliners and tourists did not want to miss the big show at Brandenburg Gate. It included the Banda Internationale. The band with lots of horns from Dresden played a mixture of Pop and World Music, including Klezmer. The East German group ‘Die Zöllner’ impressed with a well-played and very soulful ballad entitled ‘Viel zu weit’.
The Berlin State Orchestra, directed by none other than Daniel Barenboim, performed Ludwig van Beethoven’s 5th symphony, while an illuminated art installation called ‘Visions in Motion’ flapped in the wind. Brandenburg Gate, an important symbol for Germany’s reunification, was hardly visible behind the gigantic stage set up for the anniversary.
Security was tight, also because the better part of the federal government, the Berlin Senate and the Berlin House of Representatives were on site. Along with many other VIP guests, Chancellor Angela Merkel and her husband Joachim Sauer followed the speeches and the show from a temporary stand close to the stages.
Most Terrible and Most Joyful
The organizers said, the number of spectators had been limited to 100,000 for security reasons. In order to make sure people would not get squeezed like oranges, police closed two entrances to the ‘S-Bahn’ train station at Brandenburg Gate. All streets in the area were blocked. At the entrances to the anniversary show, all bags were searched.
Earlier on Saturday, Chancellor Angela Merkel had taken part in another commemoration event, at the Berlin Wall Memorial at ‘Bernauer Strasse’. She said November 9th was a day of fate to the Germans. It stood for the most terrible and the most joyful day in German history.
Merkel referred to the so-called Night of Broken Glass on November 9th, 1938, when Jews were murdered and taken to concentration camps while Nazi mobs destroyed Jewish-owned businesses and burned down countless synagogues in Germany. By the most joyful day she meant the fall of the Wall in 1989.
The big day concluded the fall of the Berlin Wall anniversary.