Posted November. 10, 2009 09:46,
Germany was in a festive mood yesterday as it celebrated the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
More than 100,000 people including world leaders gathered in front of Brandenburg Gate, a symbol of German reunification. Twenty years ago, the Brandenburg Gate stood in isolation surrounded by machine guns and barbed wire during the Cold War. It, however, has turned into a venue for a festival with people dancing to the tune of victory, the Associated Press said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel greeted world leaders in front of the gate, including British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Former Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev and former Polish President Lech Walesa, who had heavily influenced the fall of the Berlin Wall, also attended the ceremony.
In 1961, the East German government built the concrete wall measuring 155 kilometers as the number of people in East Germany fleeing to West Germany increased after the division became permanent. Before the wall fell 28 years later, 136 Germans who tried to cross the wall in search of freedom lost their lives.
○ Domino effect
The highlight of the celebration was the symbolic toppling of a 2.3-meter high Berlin Wall domino made up of 1,000 giant bricks erected along a 1.5-kilometer strip that once separated East and West Berlin between Potsdamer Platz near Brandenburg Gate and parliament.
Walesa had the honor of toppling the domino first in recognition of his contribution to the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe by leading Poland`s pro-democracy Solidarity movement.
The brick pieces of the domino wall were made of light polystyrene and carried metaphorical messages celebrating reunification, such as We are of one nation. A domino brick that said Bleeding Heart contained an image of the city bleeding from stab wounds.
Berlin resident Stefan Schuller said with joy, In everyones mind, there exists a wall of ones own. It would be great if we can bring that wall down.
Former East German Jacquelina Bachstein, 35, who participated in the celebration with her two daughters, said in tears, Today is a truly impressive day. My family was reunited thanks to the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit said, Some people laughed at the idea of the domino, but there was no other symbolic way to show the walls collapse. We had the domino made by our students in person so as to remind them of the importance of the historic event.
The German daily Berliner Zeitung wrote, Mondays ceremony was a reminder to the young post-Cold War generation of Europe of the courage of their parents who challenged the Iron Curtain 20 years ago.
Israeli pianist and maestro Daniel Barenboim conducted an orchestra in front of Brandenburg Gate, followed by celebratory performances by German DJ and producer Paul van Dyke and the American rock band Bon Jovi.
The celebration ended with a magnificent firework display that lit up the sky over Brandenburg Gate.