• 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
Germany has uphill battle to fight racism
People demonstrate against racism outside a mosque in Duisburg. Photo: DPA

Germany has uphill battle to fight racism

German government representatives admitted to a United Nations (UN) committee on Tuesday that the country had a long way to go in stamping out racism. READ  

Alps Plane Crash
Crash co-pilot did 'trial run' of fatal dive
A Germanwings plane landing at Stuttgart airport. Photo: DPA

Crash co-pilot did 'trial run' of fatal dive

The co-pilot who is believed to have deliberately crashed a Germanwings jet in the French Alps may have "rehearsed" steering the plane into a rapid descent on an earlier flight, Bild reported on Wednesday. READ  

BND Scandal
Spying scandal disrupts cosy coalition
Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel (l) and Chancellor Angela Merkel (r). Photo: DPA

Spying scandal disrupts cosy coalition

A widening scandal over claims Germany helped the US spy on European targets triggered tensions in Angela Merkel's coalition Tuesday, which analysts said could potentially prove dangerous for the "untouchable" Chancellor. READ  

Man tries to pull twin switcheroo on police

Man tries to pull twin switcheroo on police

A man stopped by police while driving without a license tried to pretend to be his twin brother. But officers soon caught on, police said on Tuesday. READ  

Experts: Steinmeier's Egypt visit is 'wrong'
Frank-Walter Steinmeier with Abdel Fatah al-Sisi in Cairo. Photo:DPA

Experts: Steinmeier's Egypt visit is 'wrong'

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier's visit to Egypt on Monday - his first since Abdel Fatah el-Sisi came to power in a 2013 coup - has been condemned as "sad" and "wrong" by experts. READ  

Germany among top ten countries for mums

Germany among top ten countries for mums

Germany took eighth place worldwide in a ranking of the best countries for mothers released by Save the Children on Tuesday. READ  

Schäuble fears Greece deal may fall through
Photo: DPA

Schäuble fears Greece deal may fall through

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble expressed scepticism on Tuesday about whether Greece would be able to strike a deal with international creditors in the next few days on vital financial aid. READ  

Man jailed over kids' deaths in bath
The state court in Kassel. Photo: DPA

Man jailed over kids' deaths in bath

A court in Kassel sentenced a man to three years in jail on Monday after his children died in the bath while he was checking train times at the station. READ  

Elderly burglar foiled after losing glasses
Is Germany experiencing a pensioner crime wave? Photo: DPA

Elderly burglar foiled after losing glasses

One of Germany's oldest burglars has had to spend his 70th birthday in a police hospital after being caught during his latest break-in attempt. READ  

Nightclub owner bans 'aggressive' refugees
File photo: DPA

Nightclub owner bans 'aggressive' refugees

A Bavarian nightclub owner has introduced a ban on refugees after claiming that they were causing trouble in his establishment. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Why Germany is great for mums
Features
The Germans with GI dads
Five ways Germany falls short on gay rights
Travel
Giant tortoise found riding Munich rail
National
FCK CPS? A-OK with court
Politics
Opinion: Brexit's dangers for Germany
Features
Smart kids all want to work for BMW
National
Minister shows off top Denglisch
National
Germany's 'other genocide' in Africa
National
Arms firms get a 'must do better' mark on ethics
Sport
Bayern's anticlimactic 25th Bundesliga win
Politics
A Greek learning politics in Germany
Features
The battle of the "Gates of Berlin"
National
Germany's 'very poor' lobbying record
National
Germany's favourite baby names of 2014
Politics
Merkel's 15 years at the top of German politics
Travel
Lowest of the low: how woman exploited Germanwings crash
Features
Spice up asparagus season with The Local's serving suggestions
Sport
Football and the €30,000 firework
Technology
Why scientists oppose killer robots
National
'Cannibal cop' gets 8 years
National
Which city is Germany's worst for drivers?
Technology
Electrifying 'Ostalgia'
National
Cologne Cathedral returns from space
Pupils mourn lost classmates
National
Freed after 25 years on death row
Shutterstock
Sponsored Article
10 things you didn’t know about Zagreb (and why you should go)
Is your workload 'out of control'? You're not alone...
Sponsored Article
What expat parents should ask before choosing a school
Features
Paddy's Day, Berlin style
National
Why east Germans are happy to get it on on camera
National
Uplifting thoughts to get you through the last week of winter
National
What would you do with a 250-year-old pretzel?
National
Who wants the Olympics more - Hamburg or Berlin?
Features
Just why is the German flag Schwarz, Rot, Gold?
Business & Money
Getting German workers and bosses thinking positive
National
German photographer takes world's top prize
National
Last-minute drama of Germany's Eurovision 2015 entry
Features
Meet the woman getting Germans to drink more – and better – beer
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

7,177
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd
?>