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David Hasselhoff rallies support for Berlin Wall
Photo: Jessica Ware

David Hasselhoff rallies support for Berlin Wall

Published: 17 Mar 2013 17:38 GMT+01:00
Updated: 17 Mar 2013 17:38 GMT+01:00

US entertainer David Hasselhoff on Sunday tried to rally support to halt the planned demolition of part of the Berlin Wall for luxury apartments along the German capital’s riverfront. Matthew Luxmoore reports.

“This is like tearing down an Indian burial ground. It’s a no-brainer,” the 60-year-old former Baywatch star told reporters at a packed press conference at a club near the Wall. “This is the last memorial to the people who died and to the perseverance of freedom.”

“Somebody said to me: ‘What if they tore down the Brandenburg Gate?’ I think there’d be a bit of a protest there too. If you tried to get near 9/11, where [the terror attacks] happened, you’d have a lot of problems,” he said.

The segment of the Wall in question is known as the East Side Gallery, a tourist attraction and one of the few remaining signs of Berlin's Cold War division. After German reunification in 1990, the 1.3-kilometre stretch of concrete barrier was covered in colourful murals from artists around the world.

But plans for a high-end residential development along the banks of the Spree River as well as providing access to a footbridge require a 22-metre part of the Wall to be dismantled. After angry demonstrations in recent weeks, the plans have been put on hold. Talks with the Berlin government and local district authorities are set to commence on March 18.

After hearing about the demolition work, Hasselhoff, known affectionately by his fans as The Hoff, decided to travel to Berlin to voice his support for the protestors fighting to keep the East Side Gallery intact. He also took the opportunity to recount his experiences of traveling through East Germany shortly after the Wall fell.

Click here for a gallery of The Hoff in Berlin

“It was staggering and overwhelming. The only place they had a flat road was in front of where politicians lived,” he said. “The food in Leipzig tasted like shoe leather. There was acid rain all over the cars. They had lived in acid rain for the last twenty odd years.”

When asked by The Local if he’d consider buying part of the Wall, he laughed and said: “There’s no way I could afford it. But together we can work to raise the money.”

As he left the conference to begin the planned walk alongside the last remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall, he provided a heartfelt rendition of his 1989 hit “Looking for Freedom” to the delight of the crowd awaiting him outside.

Hasselhoff has repeatedly stated that singing the song to half a million East and West Germans in front of the Brandenburg Gate just a few months after the Wall fell was one of the most special moments in his life.

But many of the thousands of people who turned up to witness the spectacle were sceptical about the difference The Hoff’s presence would make.

“Anything that raises awareness will help. But you’ve got to ask yourself whether people are here to support the Berlin Wall or whether they’re only here to see David Hasselhoff,” Lisa Goldschmidt, an onlooker, said.

The general opinion, however, was that anything that brought attention to the cause and garnered extra publicity would have a positive effect.

“Whether you take him seriously or not, you have to recognize that his appearance today has mobilized a lot of people,” said Phil Boyd, who was keeping his distance from the melee provoked by Hasselhof's exit from the riverside club.

"The fact that international media have turned up to cover this will only increase awareness of the situation."

Matthew Luxmoore

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

20:33 March 17, 2013 by pepsionice
If he could master a half-way decent bit of German....they'd hire him for a hit-German-cop TV series, and he'd be a star again. He just doesn't realize the value in his career left....if he just stayed in Germany.
09:15 March 18, 2013 by Steve1949
I'd say he probably sand everyone to sleep. He wasn't much of an actor but yes, maybe in Germany he could be a star since the Germans like him so much. He's even less of a singer.
14:29 March 18, 2013 by simi1983
what do you mean as the Germans like him so much? it's a nice offer but the U.S. really can keep him :p
17:54 March 18, 2013 by lordkorner
More a case of rallying support for his own feeble career.
23:47 March 18, 2013 by luise28
Well, as an American who Loves Berlin, I personally don't care for Hasseldorf, but I would hope they would keep portions of the Berlin Wall, as it is so historically important. Perhaps to Berliners it's too harsh a memory, but the message it imparts to the world is very important. And tourists from around the world will go to see it, but they will have no interest in touring new apartments. Please keep portions of the wall as a reminder of freedom's triumph.
17:04 March 19, 2013 by franconia
A foot bridge? This is "THE WALL" , and i have plans for a tunnel instead. It would be a lot more appropriate. It can be constructed to look like a 60s or 70s tunnel with photos of the originals on either side. Because everyone sees the wall above and has no clue what went on below the wall. We must never forget the tunnelrats.
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