30th anniversary: Four ways to commemorate the fall of the Wall in Berlin
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9th, 1989, and though it is not yet November, exhibitions marking the occasion have already begun.
Berlin has put together a series of exhibitions, memorials, and other events that all commemorate the city's past, and the transformations it has undergone since the fall of the Wall nearly 30 years ago.
Below is a selection of the events taking place between July and November.
East Berlin: Half a Capital
A visitor to 'East Berlin: Half a Capital'. Photo: DPA
Though it has only been 30 years since the Mauerfall, rapid reunification led the peculiarities and particularities of life in East Berlin to disappear quickly. These aspects of everyday life are the subject of the exhibition “East Berlin: Half a Capital”, which can be seen at the Ephraim-Palais Museum as well as other parts of the city.
In the exhibit, visitors are encouraged to examine the lives of East Berliners through a sociological-historical view that neither romanticizes the city's past nor considers it foreign and distant.
Original objects, photographs, film reels, and audio reels take visitors on a journey into the vanished city of East Berlin. These objects include a denim jacket with the slogan “No Power for No One”, a scale model of East Berlin, and the infamous 'Ampelmann' traffic lights.
In addition, a group of private individuals, collectors, and staff members at Berlin’s museums will each present an object from their life in East Berlin that captures some of their memories of the city. Every month, new objects along with their stories will be added to the exhibit, enabling visitors to get a sense of the human stories that underlie life in East Berlin.
Tickets for 'East Berlin: Half a Capital' cost €7 for adults.
The East Side Gallery
Visitors at one of the most famous works of art of the East Side Gallery. Photo: DPA
Days after the Berlin Wall fell, artists began painting on the east side of it. Border patrol guards, however, began to paint over their artwork, but shortly thereafter two prominent artists from Schöneberg and Prenzlauer Berg made an agreement with the GDR to turn a portion of the wall into an enormous art gallery.
That part of the wall on Mühlenstraße, a segment of the wall that had been highly visible to East Berliners, was selected, and 113 artists from 21 countries came to Berlin to begin work on the “East Side Gallery.” In turning the once ugly barrier into a piece of artwork, these artists transformed what had been a symbol of power and obstruction into a symbol of creativity and liberation.
Though the Gallery has been open to visitors since it was created, this year Berlin’s Office of Tourism is offering tours of the East Side Gallery that contextualize the artwork and the history of the Gallery. There are tours focusing on the murals and the history of the Gallery, tours aimed at children aged 8-12, and tours catering for people with learning impairments. Each is offered in English and takes place at 10:30am one morning each month, costing €3.50 per person.
Multimedia Exhibition of Berlin in the ‘90s
Visitors at the 90s Berlin exhibit. Photo: DPA
In this interactive exhibit, visitors have the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the world of Berlin in the nineties, when the newly-unified city transformed itself as tourists flocked to the capital from all over the world.
Berlin’s nightlife scene and techno music culture developed and the city became home to an eclectic mix of subcultures.
The exhibit begins with a dark entry tunnel that is intended to remind visitors of the long entrances to clubs, after which visitors walk through a series of multimedia exhibits.
These include an introductory film, a room filled with 16 video columns where contemporary witnesses describe their recollections of Berlin in the nineties, a replica of the Berlin Wall, and rooms that entrench visitors in the club and shopping scenes of the city.
The curators have also produced an app, through which visitors can gain additional information about the exhibit.
Nineties Berlin tickets cost €9.80 for adults.
Insider Tour: Cold War Berlin
The Palace of Tears, or Tränenpalast. Photo: DPA
Insider Tour’s “Cold War Berlin” walking tour offers a more traditional overview of the Cold War than the other exhibits featured in this article.
During the tour, visitors see many of the sights that are significant to the Cold War, such as the Palace of Tears, a crossing point between East and West Berlin, named because it was the location where many friends and family had to say goodbye to one another.
Participants are also taken to Bernauer Strasse, where many attempted to escape East Berlin, former guard towers, and, of course, Checkpoint Charlie, where diplomats were allowed to cross from the West to the East after the wall was erected.
The tour traces the history of the Cold War with a special focus on how the United States, West Germany, and East Germany each operated in the divided city. Tour guides describe the routines of the Stasi, the GDR’s security service, as well as the actions of the CIA and the broader Allied Forces within Germany during the Cold War.
The tour is offered throughout the week in English, Hebrew, and Spanish, and lasts four hours. Tickets cost €14 per person.