While walking along the Berlin Wall, it’s easy to get immersed into the creativity, artistic vision and the vivid colors of the longest open air gallery in the world. The street performers, artists, and even the con-artists trying to lure you into betting on which cup the ball is under, add to the vibrancy of the experience. With all the excitement, you forget that it’s 3 degrees outside, your legs are numb and nose might fall off at any minute.
For a moment, you might also forget what the paintings on the wall stand for – the joy of the fall of the Berlin wall, the overcoming of the Iron Curtain of Europe, and the euphoria felt when freedom won over persecution. A couple of days before, I had looked up the history of the Berlin wall.
On August 13, 1961, the Communist government of the German Democratic Republic (GDR, or East Germany) began to build a barbed wire and concrete “Antifascistischer Schutzwall,” or “antifascist bulwark,” between East and West Berlin. The official purpose of this Berlin Wall was to keep Western “fascists” from entering East Germany and undermining the socialist state, but it primarily served the objective of stemming mass defections from East to West. The Berlin Wall stood until November 9, 1989, when the head of the East German Communist Party announced that citizens of the GDR could cross the border whenever they pleased. That night, ecstatic crowds swarmed the wall. Some crossed freely into West Berlin, while others brought hammers and picks and began to chip away at the wall itself. To this day, the Berlin Wall remains one of the most powerful and enduring symbols of the Cold War. (source)
After having taken care of all the touristy stuff, got all the pictures I needed, admired the wall-art in enough detail, and even bought the souvenirs I wanted, my attention turned to the story behind what I was seeing. While walking back, images of the 9th of November, 1989 raced through my head. I was trying to place where the images were taken, and I could see it in front of me, I tried to picture the commotion and the feelings, which gave me a fleeting euphoric feeling.
Around that time of the year 27 years ago, people and the world were celebrating the breaking down of wall and all the oppression it symbolised. 27 years later, the world is fearing the threat of a new wall being built up.
Sure, we can find escapism in memes, dark humor, and the endless jokes at Donald Trump and America’s expense, make viral videos about American being fist, but (country name second), but when the memes and jokes run their course, then what?