The Berlin Wall

René Sommer Documentary Photography

Twenty-five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Germany is still hopelessly divided




During a press conference that took place on November 9, 1989 and that was broadcasted on television, a member of the East German Politburo, Mr. Günter Schabowski announced the new travel regulations for the East German citizens. The confusing answers given by Mr. Schabowski about these new regulations gave the impression that the German Democratic Republic had opened its borders with immediate effect. But it hadn’t. As a result of those confusing answers, East Berliners gathered at border crossings in such numbers that they overwhelmed the guards, who were just as confused as everyone else.


The first border crossings took place on the Bosebrucke at the Bornholmerstrasse and later on that evening the fall of the Berlin Wall was a fact. Four hundred thousand people had crossed over from East to West by the time Germany reunified just about year later. An exodus from the former German Democratic Republic. Now, twenty five years later Berlin is celebrating this event. For three days a sixteen km “Border of Light” symbolizes where once the Berlin Wall stood that for twenty eight years divided the city in two. On sunday evening November 9, 2014, about 8000 balloons were released to mark not only the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of East- and West Germany, but even more important the freedom for people in general.


At the Bernauerstrasse an elderly man pointed at the light towers of the SV Empor Berlin stadium close to the Mauerpark on former East German territory. “That’s where my boys played football”, he said. Ostalgie -Nostalgia for aspects of life in the former German Democratic Republic- is still very much alive.


And while most Germans were celebrating the 25th anniversary of the reunification of Germany, the ‘Aktionsgruppe 9. November 2014′, demonstrates at Berlin Alexanderplatz with a huge banner stating: “This border was torn down, so that together we can go to war again”. In Dresden -a city once part of the former GDR and its brutal regime-, rallies and demonstrates the anti-Islam movement Pegida. Twenty-five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Germany is still hopelessly divided.



Berlin. November 10, 2014