• Germany's news in English
 

Giants rekindle the magic of German reunification

Published: 04 Oct 2009 11:28 GMT+02:00

Last year, Barack Obama wasn’t allowed to speak at the Brandenburg Gate, it’s so sacred a national landmark. On Saturday, a French puppet giantess was permitted to squat at the foot of it and take a wee.

God bless Berlin.

The impromptu toilet break just before the huge marionette walked through the gate was the most bizarre moment in a surrealistic day of celebration worthy of Germany’s irreverent capital.

Tens of thousands of people turned out for the climactic moment of the performance by French street theatre group Royal de Luxe in honour of the 19th anniversary of German reunification. Two giants, representing East and West Berlin, were “reunited” at the Brandenburg Gate after walking around the city for two days.

Click here for a photo gallery of the giants in Berlin.

Among the audience were Markus Eglin and his wife Gitta Zabel-Eglin, who met in early 1990, just months after the Berlin Wall fell. Appropriately, he came from the West and she from the East.

“This is like part of our life,” said Eglin, clearly moved by the moment at which the giants hugged and touched foreheads in a stunningly lifelike gesture of affection. “My wife and I are a real East-meets-West life story, so I found this afternoon very emotional. It was just fantastic.”

Despite the mammoth expectations whipped up by the spectacle’s organisers, the 15 metre-tall “big giant” and five-metre “little giantess” could not have failed to impress the most recalcitrant cynic.

They were a technical marvel, with their limb movements powered by the scurrying activities of the “Lilliputians,” the human crew dressed in 17th century French livery pulling and swinging from ropes to hoist the giant’s arms and legs in a convincing gait.

Click here to see the routes the giants will take from October 2 - 4.

In the allegorical story, the long-lost uncle and niece had been separated by the construction of a wall, which was subsequently destroyed by an earthquake, setting them on a quest around Berlin to find each other.

“It is a wonderful story for Berlin,” said Angela Hobeck from the western Berlin district of Steglitz, who watched the big giant walk down the Straße des 17 Juni boulevard with her twin sister Martina. “It is a real story of real people who were divided – and now look around you. I remember the day the wall fell and everybody was so excited and so happy. Today reminds them again of what that was like.”

However, the big giant’s initial effect on the crowd on Saturday morning, when he emerged from the water at the river harbour next to Berlin’s central train station, was hardly unifying.

The chartered boat for VIPs and the media dropped anchor broadside in the middle of the harbour, blocking the view for much of the crowd on the bank and prompting a barrage of angry shouting.

“I hope you’re having fun,” one woman yelled. “Because my son can’t see!”

But the Very Important Boat was unmoved and the Lilliputians on the bank were forced to relocate.

Fortunately, all was forgotten when the giant rose in his antique diver’s suit out of the water and up onto the bridge. Dense crowds followed him as he strode past the train station, over a bridge and past the Chancellery and Reichstag.

By the afternoon, Berlin was so unified that the police were forced to shut down the area around the Brandenburg Gate to stop the crowds pressing in too tightly.

“It gives you goosebumps,” said Arie Leeflang, a Dutch tourist who was holidaying in Berlin with his wife Janneke, and friends Hans and Ria van Yren.

The van Yrens had travelled down Berlin’s Spree River by boat in the mid 1980s.

“It was scary back then,” Mr van Yren said. “We were photographed all the way through. They even put cameras under the boat to make sure nobody was escaping. You wouldn’t believe that was the same wonderful city we see here today.”

Related links:

David Wroe (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Wolf spotted in North Rhine-Westphalia
File photo: DPA

Wolf spotted in North Rhine-Westphalia

Camera traps have spotted a wolf for the second time in a month in North Rhine-Westphalia, the state environment ministry reported on Friday. READ  

German ranchers murdered in Paraguay
Paraguayan police on patrol in an area known to contain EPP rebels. File photo: DPA

German ranchers murdered in Paraguay

The Foreign Ministry in Berlin confirmed that two Germans living in Paraguay were kidnapped and killed earlier this week. READ  

AfD braces for busy conference weekend
"Vote AfD!" reads the flyover message. Photo: DPA

AfD braces for busy conference weekend

As leaders of the Germany's anti-Euro upstart party Alternative for Germany (AfD) prepare for its party conference this weekend, the potential for chaos is rising. READ  

Sudden dose of winter causes traffic chaos
Snow in Oberharz. Photo: DPA

Sudden dose of winter causes traffic chaos

UPDATE: Two people were rescued from avalanches as a blast of winter has taken Germany by surprise, while snow and ice accounted for several traffic accidents across the country on Friday. READ  

BND collects 220 million phone records a day
Photo: DPA

BND collects 220 million phone records a day

Germany's foreign intelligence agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) collects 220 million pieces of information about foreign phone calls and SMS every day, Zeit Online reported on Friday. READ  

U-turn on minimum wage for foreign drivers
Photo: DPA

U-turn on minimum wage for foreign drivers

Germany temporarily hit the brakes Friday on applying its new minimum wage to foreign truck drivers transiting the country in a move welcomed by Poland, which vigorously opposed the system. READ  

Crises make Germany EU foreign policy leader
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Photo: DPA

Crises make Germany EU foreign policy leader

Foreign policy think-tank the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) gave Germany top marks in its annual check-up of EU member states released on Thursday. READ  

Prost! Beer sales hop up for first gain in 8 years
Photo: DPA

Prost! Beer sales hop up for first gain in 8 years

New figures released Friday by federal statistics office Destatis are numbers breweries can drink to, as German beer consumption saw its first year-on-year rise since 2006. READ  

Germany has thousands of uni spots open
Photo: DPA

Germany has thousands of uni spots open

New research published by Spiegel on Friday shows that there are thousands of university placesa unoccupied across the country, while certain hot spots cope with too much demand. READ  

Borussia coach admits to 'downward spiral'
Borussia Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp at a press conference. Photo: DPA

Borussia coach admits to 'downward spiral'

Borussia Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp admits feeling the pressure as his side resume their fight to stay in Germany's top flight on Saturday at fellow Champions League side Bayer Leverkusen. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Business & Money
FATCA: 'The age of financial privacy is over'
Gallery
The best regional foods TTIP opponents want to protect
Photo: DPA
Features
The rise and spread of Pegida
Photo: Shutterstock
Culture
This cosplayer did not think his plan through
National
Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
Photo: DPA
Politics
The Local's report from Pegida's largest ever demonstration.
Sponsored Article
Top-notch tech boosts bilingual schools
National
Six stories that will rock Germany this year
Photo: DPA
National
Terror alert at a new high. Should you be worried?
Dresden skyline and river by night. Photo: DPA
Politics
What does Dresden have against Muslims?
Photo: DPA
National
What were your favourite news stories of 2014?
Gallery
Top 12 German idioms
National
Why has The Local got a new logo?
Photo: DPA
National
This German was abducted and tortured by the CIA
Culture
10 top tips for partying in Germany
Photo: DPA
Technology
What does the Chancellor see as the future of the internet?
Photo: DPA
Berlin
The Local's series on 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,971
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd