Part of Berlin Wall demolished at dawn
Published: 27 Mar 2013 10:14 GMT+01:00
Updated: 27 Mar 2013 12:20 GMT+01:00
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By 8am initial work had already finished, with six metres, or four pieces of the Wall, removed and lying on the frozen ground next to the Spree River, a police spokeswoman told The Local.
Over 250 police officers turned up as the diggers rolled in at 5am. “They were there to make sure that the builders could work in peace,” said the spokeswoman.
She added that despite huge protest since the plans to remove the Wall, no protestors turned up and everything went smoothly, making way for a luxury apartment building.
A police spokesman told Berlin paper Der Tagesspiegel that they had known since last week that the temporarily halted construction work would resume on Wednesday. A meeting between the property company and the city authorities on Tuesday about possible alternative sites proved fruitless.
"The investor's actions are an affront to all those wanting a reasonable compromise," said city government spokesman Richard Meng.
He added making the demolition work a "fait accompli" was "no signal for willingness to compromise."
The property developer Maik Uwe Hinkel announced at the end of February that he intended to remove a 20 metre segment in order to provide access for a footbridge and luxury flats on the river bank.
He told Bild newspaper on Wednesday that the blocks would be replaced once building was complete. The hole in the wall was, he said, "temporary".
Over 6,000 people turned out to protest in early March. US entertainer David Hasselhof even showed up on March 17th to offer his support, drawing another 10,000 to save the East Side Gallery.
The developer then agreed to stop demolition work while talks with the Berlin city government and local district authority took place.
Since 1990, the outdoor gallery has been covered in brightly coloured murals, including the famous "Fraternal Kiss" depicting Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and his East German counterpart Erich Honecker.
The 3.6-metre high (11 feet) stretch is a tourist magnet and a must-see for history buffs retracing the dark chapter of Berlin's 28-year-long division who are otherwise hard pressed to find remnants of the Wall to photograph.
Thrown up in 1961, the Wall stretched 155 kilometres (96 miles) and divided Berlin until 1989, but today only around three kilometres of it still stand.