Saturday, 8 November 2014

Lichtgrenze - The Fall of the Wall

It is the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and as part of the celebrations, from 7th of November to 9th November an installation of 8,000 illuminated balloons is marking part of the path of the former boundary between East and West Berlin. The Lichtgrenze website explains further.

We went down to the opening of the event, beginning at a concert with Udo Lindenberg and Daniel Barendboim in front of the Brandenburger Tor, and took some photos.

Lichtgrenze - 25th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

Lichtgrenze - 25th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

That's a giant Udo Lindenburg projected on the Brandenburg Gate behind the stage. The guitarist isn't Udo, but the guy who played him in the popular musical about love across the East/West Berlin border Hinterm Horizont. Anybody outside Germany would be forgiven for not knowing who Udo is, but believe me, he is very big here and intrinsically linked with the struggle between East and West Berlin.

Lichtgrenze - 25th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

Lichtgrenze - 25th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

Lichtgrenze - 25th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

Lichtgrenze - 25th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

Lichtgrenze - 25th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

I spotted Klaus Wowereit talking about the event to the ARD cameras. Though he resigned from the position in August, he is still Mayor of Berlin until 11th December 2014.

Lichtgrenze - 25th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

Lichtgrenze - 25th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

Lichtgrenze - 25th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

Lichtgrenze - 25th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

Lichtgrenze - 25th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

Lichtgrenze - 25th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

The ribbon of light evokes for me the illuminated 'death strip' that used to run along this border, and also the transience of the barrier: on 9th November (anniversary of the actual day the borders were reopened) the ballons will be released and fly off into the sky.

There is a poignancy I feel that in the UK they are simultaneously marking the centenary of the outbreak of World War I on Remembrance Sunday 9th November. There is a similarly remarkable installation with a field of ceramic red poppies for that at the Tower of London, also transitory.

All this year, when we tuned into the UK news there seemed to be something about the First World War, whereas on the German news channels there was something about living under Soviet oppression. One nation is marking the sad deaths of thousands of soldiers in a horrific war, whilst another nation is marking the joy of the sudden, peaceful, freedom of movement and thought. Two very different and moving events.

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