Article by: Joseph Hadaway
On November 9, thousands swarmed to Berlin to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Built in 1961 out of concrete and wires, the Berlin Wall divided Berlin into two sides – the socialist East Germany and the democratic West Germany. This division ended in 1989, when citizens of both sides used various tools to chip off parts of the wall. As a result, the Cold War, which had plagued Europe for decades, ended.
Today, the 9th of November is known as “Schicksalstag,” or, “fateful day” in Germany. During this year’s anniversary celebration, an art installation called “Lichtgrenze” – a series of illuminated balloons placed on the land where the Berlin once stood – was displayed for three days. The project, created by brothers Christopher and Marc Bauder, involved over eight thousand balloons, each with a corresponding donor. Each balloon also had a story about an event that took place in that area of the wall. On the final day of the installation, the donors released respective their balloons into the sky, to represent “a future of a world without walls.”
To further commemorate the event, speeches, art exhibits, prayer circles, film festivals, and concerts were all planned and organized by the German government. German Governing Mayor Klaus Wowerit gave a speech, stating, “With our events for the anniversary of the fall of the Wall, we recall the historical occurrence of the European liberation movement of 1989 that radically changed the course of world history. [With these celebrations] we place ourselves in solidarity with those who have raised their voices for freedom, democracy and human rights back then as well as those who continue to do so know”.
Evidently, the fall of the Berlin Wall is one of the defining moments of the twentieth century. Despite it taking place years before most of the student body was born, it is reflected in ISM’s multicultural community. German student Timm Hartel reveals that his father was in Germany during the Wall’s fall over twenty five years ago. It was his German heritage, he claims, that encouraged him to write his Extended Essay on this historic event.
The world has truly felt the impact of the event – both in and out of the history classroom. Whether this is through fanfare or an essay, the fall of the Berlin Wall is clearly an occasion to be celebrated.