Sunday, November 08, 2009

Looking For Freedom: The Fall Of The Berlin Wall

If you've been to Berlin since the wall fell you know how truly divided it once was. Yuko and I made it there in 2000.

Alexanderplatz (above), the main square in the old Communist part of the city, resembled a kosmonaut village with the GDR/CCCP's love of all things space-like finding expression in the Fernsehturm (TV Tower) and all the shiny, metallic surfaces. Ironically, the communists' futuristic fetish revealed an escapism that would have made a comrade like Bertolt Brecht choke on his pumpernickel.

Meanwhile, the western part of the city reveled in a kind of gritty realism; stone monuments, blackened from pollution, and building facades pock-marked with bullets leftover from WWII, offered a requiem scarred with history.

I was at the University of BC in Vancouver on November 10, 1989 (a Friday), the morning after the checkpoints were opened. It was a beautiful autumn day and I remember meeting with my theatre history prof, the great Peter Loeffler, who was ecstatic over the news.

Here's an account of how it happened in the days leading up to November 9, 1989:
"Erich Honecker, East Germany's head of state, resigned on October 18, 1989. The new governement prepared a new law to lift travel restrictions for East German citizens.

At 6:53 pm on November 9 a member of the new East German government was asked at a press conference when the new East German travel law would come into force. He answered:
Well, as far as I can see, ... straightaway, immediately.

Thousands of East Berliners went to the border crossings. At Bornholmer Strasse the people demanded the border open and at 10:30 pm it was opened.

That moment was the end of the Berlin Wall."

Oddly (and sadly), David "The Hoff" Hasselhoff's "Looking For Freedom" was a mega-hit in West Germany in 1989, staying at number 1 for eight weeks.

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