This evening there will be a spectacle at Place de la Concorde in Paris with 27 musicians perched on top of large cement blocks symbolizing the Berlin wall along with a light show. The French army chorus will also be performing. I assume that snippets of it will be available on the various news programs, because it is designed to coincide with the ceremonies in Berlin for a simultaneous broadcast.
Those are amazing photos Kerouac - thanks so much for sharing !!! I was able to go back to Berlin less than a year after the fall of the Berlin Wall. (I watched it in joy and amazement on TV when it happened) My GF and I flew in for one night on a free buddy pass a friend gave me for my birthday in Sept of 1990 and we just stayed one night, but I was able to walk through the Brandenburg gate and look at all the knick-knack they were selling. I am sad now that I never got a piece of the Wall, but I did get some weird/cheap russian watch LOL. I don't think I have it anymore - certainly never brought it here to the US.
One thing that is interesting to me is that from what I understand (having lived in the US for 17 years now) is that the East is flourishing, their streets are better, newer venues etc. I can't talk about unemployment and the cause/reason for that. But I do know that all Germans that work and pay taxes still pay the "solidarity tax" even after all these years.
"After several incarnations in the 1990s, the special tax has been set since 1998 at 5.5 percent of income taxes, capital gains and corporate taxes. A direct tax, it brings in roughly €12 billion each year for the federal government. However, the funds do not necessary support reconstruction efforts in eastern Germany, exposing it to criticism from taxpayer groups."
I don't know what they do with the money but I find is unbelievable that it is still being forced upon the west. I had to pay it and they said it might last 2-3 years.... it's been over 20!!
Anyway - thank you K again for these photos.... it was a joyous time when it happened, but you will find that a lot of Germans (on both sides) are wishing the wall back up (I am not one of them) and who knows if we will ever really be united!
I have read over and over again that east Germans very much liked the social net they used to have -- and they also liked their own food products (pickles, mustard -- just ordinary things) which were all swept away in just a few months and replaced by the industrial west German products. And of course it was not difficult for them to find the west Germans totally arrogant, just as it was not difficult for the west Germans to find the east Germans unpleasant and lazy.
What a priceless experience to see such this firsthand. So glad you and your friend made the trip.
I remember the fall of the Berlin wall, but being 8 years old I didn't quite understand the importance, even when it was explained to me. (When given the definition of Communism from my 11-year-old sister, it sounded like a completely fair system to me). But seeing the photos and news footage, I could tell that people were happy and relieved, so I was happy for them.
I found three more photographs from the border crossing between East and West Berlin that I took on that day. It is really strange to imagine that just one month earlier, if I had taken any photos in the no man's land, I would have been immediately arrested, if not shot.
I was just reading the travel section of the NY Times yesterday and in a short "36 hours in Berlin", they talked only about going to GDR-style restaurants, buying vintage GDR clothes, walking down Stalinallee/KarlMarxAllee... Memories are short and what seemed either dramatic or unpleasant in the not-so-distant past is now fashionable.
On Amazon.co.uk I found a collection of 10 East German films from the old DEFA studios, WWI Commemorative Film Collection. Topics range from a filming of Heinrich Mann's The Untertan to a study of Kathe Kollwitz. The movies are subtitled in English. Just as bjd mentions the article in the NY times regarding memories of the GDR before the Wall came down, so these movies are reflective of GDR attitudes and as such have been fascinating to watch.
Although the University of Mass has an extensive DEFA film archive, few of these films are available in Region 1 format.
Oddly, The Lives of Others did absolutely nothing for me. I could not identify with anybody in the movie, and that is essential for me. However, I do understand that I am in a tiny minority, so there is something wrong with me. On the other hand, I thought that Goodbye Lenin was an extraordinary vulgarisation of the situation, in the scientific sense, not the ugly deformation of the word -- "the process of making something accessible and attractive to the general public." Barbara was also excellent.
I remember your saying that ages ago, Kerouac, and I guess it's a case of different strokes, as I think it's an excellent movie.
I enjoyed Goodbye, Lenin very much, but when I mentioned it to my friend from East Berlin he snorted and claimed everyone from the DDR hates it or mocks it. That's only one person, though -- I'd have to hear it from a bunch more before accepting that.
Never knew about Barbara, so thanks for bringing that up, Huckle.
Odd, I have a friend who grew up in the former DDR who was very fond of Goodbye Lenin. The mum who seems to be a robotic follower had a credible backstory to my mind, and I did like the fact that it showed the negative impacts of reunification as well as the obvious positive ones, and how superficial some of the positive impacts were for many people.
This friend is a doctor; he and his wife were living in Bavaria very close to the Austrian border (her family left her the house there). He joked, "halfway between Hitler's birthplace and Pope Benedict's", conveying a sense of deepest reaction, when they were anything but. Alas his wife died and he was deeply depressed; we were very worried for him. He accepted a position in Nigeria. A couple of years later, he had met a lovely lady who was among his co-workers at the clinic; they married and seem to be happy together...
I am a bit concerned about tomorrow with the rise of the far Right, in case they decide to celebrate the 9th by smashing up the shop windows etc of whomever they hate now.
As the years pass, a lot of people are under the impression that the wall suddenly crumbled all of a sudden on November 9, 1989. However, one of Erich Honecker's greatest mistakes may have been to authorise a concert in East Berlin by Bruce Springsteen on July 19, 1988. It was the biggest concert of his career (Springsteen, not Honecker). 160,000 tickets were sold but it is estimated that 500,000 people actually attended.