Saturday, 15 August 2009

"Ich bin ein Berliner"

That's what John F. Kennedy said when he visited Berlin in 1963 during the Cold War, 22 months after the Soviet-supported communist state of East Germany built the Berlin Wall. The wall was 155km long and the height was 3.6 meters. He said "Two thousand years ago the proudest boast was civis Romanus sum. Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is Ich bin ein Berliner."
After biking around the city, I must say that Kennedy would be thrilled to see Berliners enjoying their freedom. The country was reunified after the tearing down of the wall on November 9, 1989.
I dared cross Check Point Charlie to see DDR or then, the dreaded Deutsche Demokratische Republik, when I was backpacking around Europe in the 1980s. I remember it being grey and gloomy, a complete contrast to the punk, vibrant and rebellious West Berlin. I was frightened when the border police wouldn't let me cross back since I didn't use all the DDR money. I had to go back to spend every Deutsch Mark and panicking when it was nearing dark.
Now there is not much left of the wall except in the East side where it it is now fenced (right photo) to fend off rummaging souvenir hunters and in the Freidrichshain area where the open air gallery called The East Side Gallery use the remaining part of the wall to exhibit about 100 paintings (murals) by artists from all over the world.
This year 2009 is a great time to visit Berlin as it marks its 20th anniversary of the peaceful revolution that led to the fall of Berlin which precipitated the reunification of East-West Germany and Europe and the end of the Cold War.
Some paintings from the East Gallery:

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