The planned monument, dubbed a ‘seesaw’ because of its shape and rocking motion, has seen its own ups and downs over the past ten years.
The decision to build a memorial honouring the country’s 1990 reunification after the Cold War was made in 2007. The design chosen was a 50-metre-long tilting steel dish, which was intended to rock when people climbed into it.
The monument would also be inscribed with the words “Wir sind das Volk, wir sind ein Volk” (We are the people, we are one people) – echoing the slogan shouted by demonstrators in former East Germany leading up to the fall of the Berlin Wall.
But from the beginning the project faced obstacles, including that the remains of a former monument to Kaiser Wilhelm were dicovered at the slated site, and a colony of rare bats had also taken up occupancy there.
In April last year, a budget committee of the Bundestag (German parliament) withdrew its support for the monument because of an increase in estimated costs of up to €15 million, or about 50 percent more than projected.
But then this week, Bundestag representatives made a surprising announcement.
“The freedom and unity monument in Berlin will come forth as the German Bundestag in 2007 and 2008 decided,” said conservative Union party spokespeople on Tuesday.
“We want the proposed ‘people in motion’ to become reality,” said Social Democrat (SPD) faction head Thomas Oppermann, adding that it would occupy its previously planned location on Museum Island, next to the reconstructed Berlin City Palace.
A model of the planned monument. Photo: DPA.
The building permit has already been granted, and now the financing plan must be passed.
“I think that 27 years after German Reunification, we can show with such a monument that people can fight for democracy and defend democracy,” Oppermann said.
“It is a seesaw, a balance, that is in motion. ‘People in motion’, it is called. Now it has tipped back.”
Conservative Union faction (CDU/CSU) leader Volker Kauder said that the delay in the project due to the budgetary committee’s decision last year was necessary to reevaluate the plans, given the cost increases.