Celebrations are in full flow as Germany marks 30 years since the Berlin Wall fell. “We want to ensure that no wall will separate people ever again,” said Chancellor Angela Merkel.
— Germans mark the 30th anniversary of the fall of Berlin Wall with rallies, memorials and exhibitions
— Leaders of Slovakia, Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary lay roses at a Wall memorial
— Youths from all over Europe share their perspective on the continent’s future in Berlin
All updates in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC/GMT)
21:02 DW’s Kate Brady has just posted a video of the fireworks display in Berlin saying: “Fireworks over Berlin’s government district as Germany marks 30 years since the #FalloftheWall on November 9, 1989. It would be another decade before German parliament, the Bundestag, officially returned to the Reichstag building in April 1999.”
Earlier this evening, Brady reminded us of the contribution of Berlin swimming pools. She said: “Berlin swimming pools contribute to remembering the #FalloftheWall, 30 years ago today, with an offer for saunas. “The Berlin Movement: Don’t sweat anymore.” German Chancellor Angela Merkel famously said she was relaxing in a sauna on the night of November 9, 1989.”
Also, check out Kate’s article on today’s commemorations as she reports from Berlin: Germany’s Steinmeier warns of ‘invisible’ walls that threaten social cohesion.
20:12 Speaking to thousands of people at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in an emotional speech: “This evening, we stand here with gratitude, even with tears in our eyes.”
19:26 On a slightly sour note, DW’s political correspondent in Berlin, Peter Craven, feels that “massive resentment” still exists among people in eastern Germany, reminding us that well over half of Germans living in the former East German states “view themselves as second-class citizens.”
“I found a very interesting example that might help explain this,” Craven continued. “Of all the colleges, universities and centers of higher education in eastern Germany, of which there are dozens, maybe 80 plus, how many have got directors who are from the east?” he asked rhetorically. “The answer is zero.”
19:09 The UK delegation to NATO have piled in on the David Hasselhoff memories by posting a video on their Twitter feed of the iconic moment “The Hoff” sang at the Berlin Wall to see in the New Year.
18:37 A Berlin-based citizens’ group on Saturday tried to deliver a section of the Wall to the White House in Washington but were turned away. The move was conducted as a way of reminding US President Donald Trump a world without walls and a free society, the group said.
The 2.7-ton slab is an original from the barrier that divided to the two parts of the German capital, Initiative Open Society said. A group representative told news agency dpa that the approach was rejected.
The piece of wall is inscribed with a letter to Trump saying that “no wall lasts forever.”
“We would like to give you one of the last pieces of the failed Berlin Wall to commemorate the United States’ dedication to building a world without walls.”
The group remain undeterred and will make further attempts to deliver the slab. If they continue to be unsuccessful, the group would like to take it on a US tour.
18:19 Soccer fans tore down a symbolic “Berlin Wall” placed across the center of the pitch at Hertha Berlin’s Olympiastadion prior to the Bundesliga game against Leipzig on Saturday.
Hertha had a retro scoreboard for the day and wore white shirts with a Berlin bear on the front, to replicate the jerseys that the German side wore in its first match after the fall of the Wall.
The home support had little to celebrate come the game’s end as Leipzig went on to win 4-2.
18:12 Here is a moving piece as Abeje Gadle, who moved to former East Germany as a student, reflects on the period before the Wall fell, as well as the consequences.
17:19 Still no sign of US actor and sometime singer David Hasselhoff. “The Hoff” famously sang his song “Looking for Freedom” at the Berlin Wall on New Year’s Eve 1989, just weeks after the Wall came down.
16:46 US President Donald Trump has weighed in on proceedings as he praised Germans on the “tremendous strides that have been made in reuniting their country and in rebuilding the former East Germany.”
Trump’s statement continued: “The eyes of the world watched as a generation of East Germans reclaimed their God-given liberties with each successive swing of their hammers.”
He added that for decades East German propaganda “touted the existence of a thriving workers’ paradise on their side of the wall. Yet the dilapidated apartments and depleted grocery stores told a different story.”
Trump also echoed the sentiments of his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, as the president sent a warning to regimes that try to limit freedom. “Let the fate of the Berlin Wall be a lesson to oppressive regimes and rulers everywhere: No Iron Curtain can ever contain the iron will of a people resolved to be free.”
16:05 Slovakian President Zuzana Caputova has tweeted a photo of her placing a flower in Berlin, and expressed her gratitude to President Steinmeier, as well as extolling the virtues of freedom: “Fall of Berlin Wall together with the revolutionary changes in V4 is a fascinating story of desire for freedom and democracy. Glad to commemorate it together. Thank you President Steinmeier for hosting us in Berlin today.”
15:00 UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has tweeted his take on proceedings, along with a photo of a section of the wall that is outside the organization’s HQ in New York. He posted: “This segment of the Berlin Wall in our NY Headquarters is a daily reminder of the artificial divisions sometimes created to separate us — but also of our power to dismantle them and create a better world, together.”
14:53 German rock star Udo Lindenberg, once banned by GDR authorities, said that the events of November 9, 1989, were “the best party of [his] lifetime.”
“Germany became wider, I’m still as happy as if it were yesterday,” he wrote on Twitter. He also spoke to DW ahead of today’s commemorations.
14:36 The outgoing EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker described the fall of the Wall as a “peaceful revolution” which was pushed through by people who “risked their own freedom to achieve freedom for all.”
“Instead of suffering history, these people made history,” he said.
14:02 French President Emmanuel Macron praised the people who pushed for the end of Germany’s divide.
“The Berlin Wall did not fall 30 years ago,” Macron said in a tweet published in French and German. “It was brought down by bravery of thousands of people who desired freedom, paving the way to German reunification and European unity. Let us also be brave and worthy of their expectations.”
13:55 “East Germans brought about the end of the former East Germany. They courageously stood up for democracy and then essentially had to restart their lives in a reunited Germany, and their accomplishments have still not received the recognition they deserve,” says DW Editor-in-Chief Ines Pohl in her opinion piece on the fall of the Berlin Wall. “Now this willful ignorance is coming back to haunt us.”
13:24 Speaking to DW from Berlin, Istanbul mayor and opposition leader Ekrem Imamoglu warned against political polarization.
“Walls do not always have to be physical,” he said. “They are not necessarily made out of concrete and iron bars. Sometimes, two people can stand side by side an insurmountable wall exists between them.”
13:14 Locals are now lighting candles at the Berlin Wall memorial in Bernauer Strasse, after German leaders and foreign guests attended a ceremony at the site.
12:56 A convoy of Trabants, iconic East German cars, rumbled through Berlin on Saturday in honor of the wall’s destruction 30 years ago. When the GDR officials opened the gates, East Berliners rushed through the gates on foot and in their Trabis and Wartburgs.
12:45 The events marking the fall of the Wall and reunification go beyond the once-divided city of Berlin. In Leipzig, authorities staged an exhibition dubbed “Point of No Return” to show how East German artists saw the great transformation unleashed by the events of 1989.
12:01 Thousands of people rushed to the West when the GDR authorities first opened the gates 30 years ago, and many more followed in the decades afterwards to find work in the richer German states. Today, the former East Germany is facing a shrinking population. DW’s Carl Nasman reports from the town of Eisenhüttenstadt.
11:45 Italian President Sergio Mattarella described the fall of the Berlin Wall as the “dawn of freedom and the start of a new road of history for Germany, the entire continent and the entire world.”
“A Europe without walls of division and without hatred is a great opportunity for the citizens to be masters of their own destiny,” Mattarella said.
10:48 The fall of the Wall shows there no excuse not to fight for freedom, according to Chancellor Merkel.
“We want to ensure that no wall will separate people ever again,” Merkel said in a speech. “The Berlin Wall is history. Which teaches us this: No wall that segregates people and limits freedom is so high or so wide that it can’t be broken through.”
10:45 Merkel said that just months before the fall of the Wall “nobody would believe it was even possible.”
“I remember those who were killed at this wall because they were seeking liberty,” she said from Berlin’s historic Chapel of Reconciliation.
10:37 Young people from various European countries speak of the future of Europe at Berlin’s Chapel of Reconciliation, with German leaders in attendance.
10:25 German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who grew up in East Germany, is meeting and greeting the public while taking part at a Berlin memorial event.
10:17 German President Steinmeier praised Eastern European countries for their struggle against the Iron Curtain.
“Without the courage and the desire for freedom of the Poles, the Hungarians, the Czechs, and the Slovaks, the peaceful revolution and the German unification would not be possible,” Steinmeier said in a brief address
10:15 President Steinmeier, Chancellor Angela Merkel, Bundestag Speaker Wolfgang Schäuble, and many other laid roses at the Berlin Wall memorial to commemorate victims of the GDR terror. At least 136 people were killed trying to cross over to the West.
10:06 The foreign ministers of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania said the fall of the Berlin Wall brought back hope to Germans, but also to all of people suffering behind the Iron Curtain.
“It signified the collapse of the Evil Empire in the most direct and decisive way — it was the beginning of the end of communist tyranny in Europe,” they said in a joint statement
09:40 German Chancellor Angela Merkel says it might take more than 50 years to complete the unification process between the former east and west Germany.
“In some issues, where it was believed that everything will be the same in the East and the West, today we see that that it will likely take half a century or longer,” she told German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung.
09:15 The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 was an earth-shattering event for Germany and Europe. Read how our reporters Hardy Graupner and Uwe Hessler, who lived in East Berlin at the time, remember covering the day and facing a new world.
08:57 On his website, President Steinmeier invited Germans to share their personal stories of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
08:30 German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier welcomed the leaders of Visegrad countries (Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Hungary) in Berlin on Saturday, kicking off the day of celebrations across Germany.