The Berlin Wall: 25 Years Later

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Do you remember what you were doing on November 9, 1989? This was the day the Berlin Wall came down, and 2014 marks the 25th anniversary of this historic event. Janna, one of our Berlin guides, has been guiding in the city since 1995, and remains fascinated by the way Berlin's past continues to shape its future. She's here today to share a bit of information about this piece of Berlin's story.

Nov 9, 1989 - a magical day – 25 years ago: the end of the Berlin Wall. A few words, stuttered by Günter Schabowski, member of the Politbuero, made Berliners from East and West jump out of their sofas toward the checkpoints, waiting for the wall to give way. Chaos grew, as Eastern border troops had no clue of what Schabowski had publicly announced during a press conference. Finally a Stasi border guard decided to open the way direction West, as he feared violence. No violence – only tears of joy were shed this night, when family, friends and strangers fell into each other’s arms. Thousands took their first steps into Western streets, which were literally non-existent on East Berlin city maps.

For 28 years of the Berlin Wall standing, East Berliners were kept from seeing the West, being walled in in their own country, the so-called GDR, German Democratic Republic (the non-democratic Germany). To stop the significant brain drain of East Germans heading towards a free and more attractive life in West Germany (the Federal Republic of Germany), Eastern leaders put up the Wall on August 13, 1961.

Today, a quarter century has changed the world and the city Berlin – if you saw it then, you wouldn’t recognize it now. Magnificent old buildings restored, empty lots dating from war time refilled with shiny new construction: Berlin has renewed itself, not for the first time in history. After suffering under two dictatorships in the 20th century, being a city filled with blood and tears, it is now a city with a worldwide reputation for tolerance, high standard of living, a vast amount of green space for a city of 3.3 million, and lots of freedom. Come and see Berlin in 2014. This year, on Nov 9, glowing balloons marking the former Wall's outline will be sent up in the sky, bright messengers of times changed.

Thanks Janna! This sounds like an amazing event to witness. If anyone is traveling to Berlin in 2014, consider getting in touch with Janna for both a lesson in 20th century history and a local perspective on one of Europe's most fascinating cities.
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