Can it really be 25 years since the peaceful fall of the Berlin Wall? The city itself has been paying tribute to the event this weekend with lighted balloons placed along the entire path where the hated wall once stood. We were in Berlin just 3 weeks ago; and getting up close to parts of the wall still standing was at the top of my “must see” list. We had seen pieces of the wall dotted along the city while on various tours and at exhibits, but I most wanted to get a chance to walk alongside the East Side Gallery.
This concrete canvas is considered an international tribute to freedom. The longest existing piece of the original wall, it runs 1.3 kilometers (or 0.8 miles). During the many years that the wall was up and patrolled, the west side was consistently covered in graffiti. But because of the constant watch on the east, that side remained gray and clear. That was remedied 1 year after the official opening of the wall at this locale on Mühlenstraße (Miller Street).
The East Side Gallery has 105 paintings that were created by artists from all over the world starting in 1990. And it’s considered to be one of the longest-lasting open air galleries ever.
Due to scheduling issues, we only had 1 afternoon to see this display. But that day was very cold and spitting rain. Still, I grabbed my Mom and Aunt, who had tagged along with me on this business trip, and we got on a hop-on/hop-off tour bus. As the guide explained other sites along the way, the rain grew heavier and heavier and we finally decided, sadly, to just stay on the bus and look at this historic site through the windows…
So I jumped off into the downpour, hollering to my family that I’d meet them back at the hotel. But as the bus pulled off, they were standing there beside me. We were 3 women shivering under umbrellas but wearing huge smiles. What can I say? This was the very definition of something not to be missed.
Now, about that famous spot: It’s known as (painting #25) “My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love” and is a painting of an actual photo taken in 1979 during a traditional “fraternal kiss” between Russia’s Leonid Brezhnev and East Germany’s Erich Honecker.
This painting has pretty much become the face of the Gallery and has been recreated on everything from posters and mugs and t-shirts to advertising campaigns.
Of course all of the artwork, with most depicting hope for a better future for all people, were fascinating. And although at one point I could no longer feel my toes, I still loved my walk along this colorful piece of history.
While Germany is celebrating the wall’s fall today, I am grateful to have been able to see the site and hear the stories closeup. Happy 25th Anniversary Berlin!