Berlin Wall 1989-2009

Berlin Wall, Germany

If you turn on the television or glance at a newsstand in just about any city lately, it would be hard to miss the coverage on Berlin.  This month marks the 20th anniversary of the falling of the Berlin Wall.  It was on November 9, 1989 that the wall came down. A wall that was put up by the GDR (German Democratic Republic) to stop East Berliners from escaping.  They were fleeing by the thousands per day, trying to go from Soviet-controlled East Germany to the West, which was then occupied by the Americans, British and French.  I was lucky to visit Berlin and learn about the history up close – stand in front of the last remnants of the wall, watch select artists make their statements and especially follow the parallel lines of cobblestones that trace where the wall was.  To me that was a powerful sight.

Berlin Wall, GermanyBerlin Wall, GermanyBerlin Wall, GermanyBerlin Wall, Germany

To coincide with the anniversary, I’ll share some of my photos and adventures from Berlin in the next couple of weeks.  Berlin is a fascinating city to visit, if a bit overwhelming because of just how much there is to see and do, and especially learn. To be in a place with that much history is not something to be taken lightly.  Below you will see a series of links so you too can read up on the events of the past and the present. I have chosen just a handful (in both English and French), which I found very informative and interesting – with tons of links for articles, interviews, videos and images.  It won’t even scratch the surface of just how much is available online and in special edition magazines and books, on TV and the radio.  But it’s a good start.  If you found a great link, please feel free to share with us in the comments.

Berlin, GermanyBerlin, Germany

If you go to Berlin, you’ll notice a particular little man with a hat on telling you to cross the street or to stay put.  That’s the Ampelmann, East Berlin’s traffic figure created in 1961 shortly after the wall was built.  It is now a symbol of East Berlin and the past socialist era, and truly a cult figure.  You can tell if you’re in what was once West Berlin if you don’t see him anymore, and instead a more mundane hatless green man is telling you to cross.

Online coverage

CNN: http://edition.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2009/autumn.of.change/

Wall Street Journal: http://online.wsj.com/public/page/berlinwall.html

BBC: http://bit.ly/X4vLu

TIME: http://bit.ly/2fGLOX

Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/wall/

Facebook Group: http://www.facebook.com/freedomwithoutwalls

History Channel videos:
“Kennedy responds to Berlin Wall”: http://bit.ly/1jag33
“Regan speaks about visit to Berlin Wall”: http://bit.ly/1Pux5F

A brief overview: http://www.berlin-life.com/berlin/wall

And to explain the famous “Brotherhood Kiss” above between Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and his East German counterpart Erich Honecker: http://bit.ly/D0kJ

En français:

Le Figaro: http://www.lefigaro.fr/international/mur-de-berlin.php

GEO: http://www.geo.fr/en-kiosque/geo-368-octobre-2009-54655

TV5: http://bit.ly/2N4f3O

ARTE: http://bit.ly/4gkTTj

L’Internaute: http://bit.ly/1LUsqe

L’EXPRESS: http://www.lexpress.fr/actualite/monde/chute-mur-de-berlin/

18 Responses to “Berlin Wall 1989-2009”

  1. VeggieGirl says:

    Incredible sight.

  2. Amanda says:

    Wow! Are there any explanations of that kiss in English? Perhaps you can give us a quick little translation… I am so curious now. Looking forward to your other posts on Berlin. This city is definitely on my list.

  3. Amanda says:

    oops, pardon me. I figured out that the link for the kiss explanation and your french resources are separate…

    Love that little green man with the hat!

  4. uberVU - social comments says:

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

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  5. Julia @ Mélanger says:

    I can’t believe it’s been 20 years. I remember the day it all happened. How time goes so quickly. What a fabulous round up of the coverage and history. I’ve never been to Berlin, but fortunately know I know a little bit more because of your great article here. It’d be great to know what the general vibe was like when you were there???

  6. kelleyn says:

    I had the opportunity to visit the wall in Sept of 1989. To be on the westside and see the guards is scary. My husbands grandparents and mother escaped from East Germany, and he had many family members who lived on the East during that time. I am glad that it is now open and they can enjoy freedom.

  7. Emma says:

    I like the hatted green man too. But of all the signs I saw in Berlin, my favorite was this one:
    http://www.travelblog.org/Photos/Popped/935425

    I also like the looks of this; I guess bicycling works differently in Germany:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ampelmaennchen_Ost_Fahrrad.jpg

  8. jen laceda says:

    Oh my, that was 1989? 20 years ago? And I still remember watching it on TV. Gosh, I just confirmed that I’m old! Some of the bloggers I know weren’t even born yet when the walls came tumbling down! Thanks for all the links. I will check them out soon!

  9. Tweets that mention Berlin Wall 1989-2009 | MyKugelhopf -- Topsy.com says:

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  10. katy says:

    just love the info about the little Ampelmann. so cool~

  11. Kerrin says:

    Amanda, I loved that little green man too. I assume you read up on the kiss – pretty interesting, right? It’s one of the most recognizable images concerning the Wall. If you don’t know the story behind it though, it can certainly be disconcerting – and shocking!

    Julia, amazing that you can remember the very day, 20 years ago. As for the general vibe when I was there – there wasn’t nearly as much action as there probably is right now. Just lots of tourists taking pictures really. Even if it’s quiet and there’s not much going on – it’s still a very intense atmosphere, when you are face to face with such important historical monuments and thinking about all that happened where you are standing.

    kelleyn, thank you so much for sharing. I can imagine just how scared I’d be to see those guards too! That is fascinating that you were there mere months before the Wall came down. Question – did people know that it was soon going to happen? Or when you were there, was there no notion at Incredible about your husband’s family. all? Must be so interesting to talk to them about their experiences. I absolutely agree – thank goodness that all who suffered for so long, can now live in freedom and be with their family all throughout the country.

    Emma, those signs are just too cute, thanks for sharing the links! The first image is similar to the system here in Zurich – there are separate traffic lights (and even crossing paths) for pedestrians and cyclists. Very organized! Love your favorite sign too – hearts as heads 🙂 !

    Jen, yes indeed 20 years, crazy right?! That doesn’t mean you are old, silly! haha! Hope you enjoy reading the articles I selected. Let me know if there are others you found too.

  12. Matt says:

    Hi. Great post about Berlin. I was there all week and was at the celebrations on Monday night! And, I just had a currywurst at Tegel airport right before flying back to Zurich last night. Mmm. (burp)

    A more in depth comment about the traffic man. He now appears in areas of both east and west berlin, not only the east. He was nearly eliminated after the reunification 20 years ago but was brought back by popular demand on crossings of smaller roads.

    I also found an absolutely fantastic restaurant while in Berlin, remind me to tell you about their 4-course 4-wine gourmet seasonal meal I had next time we meet… and the chardonnay grappa… http://www.altes-zollhaus-berlin.de/

  13. Kerrin says:

    Matt, how amazing that you were just there – and for the actual day of celebrations no less. That must have been some experience for sure. And of course, a currywurst too – you are definitely on top of all the food trends around the world.

    Thanks for sharing the info on the traffic man and the restaurant link too. Sounds like a real find that I’ll be sure to keep on my radar for the next time I’m in Berlin. Can’t wait to hear about those 4 courses…

  14. Andrea says:

    Kerrin

    I only WISH I could have been there for the 20th anniversary FOR I was there that incredible day back in November 1989. My memories are vivid and profound. I still remember the many East German families bringing their families into the large western Berlin department stores (KaDeWe) and observing how many of them had never eaten a fresh fruit before. One obviously East German woman in particular was crying as she saw her young child try and put a banana with the peel on, in his mouth. I also remember the long lines of little “Trabbies” (East German cars) roaming along the western streets of Germany. Most special of all, was the opportunity I had to chisel pieces of the wall to keep!

    Thank you for highlighting the anniversary of this still amazing historical celebration!

  15. Kerrin says:

    Wow, Andrea, thank you so much for sharing with us. That is simply incredible that you were there in November 1989, and able to experience such an important moment in history. I can only imagine all of the stories you have – sights you saw – things you will remember for a long time to come. And even a piece of the wall too. Again, danke schön !!

  16. mchang says:

    Awesome pictures! Really wish I had been there for the fall, but they didn’t actually advertise it ahead of time. You were really gifted with that real time experience.

  17. mn homes says:

    Seeing those pics you posted, I can tell that Germans have great aesthetic sense. That wall is more than just an art. It played a vital role in the History of Germany. I want to personally see the Berlin Wall.

  18. Teen says:

    just love the info about the little Ampelmann. so cool~

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