East Side Gallery – Berlin

Throughout history countries have erected walls to keep people out.  The Great Wall of China and Hadrian’s Wall spring to mind.  In more recent times a wall was constructed to keep people in, the Berlin Wall.  After an estimated 20% of the population had left East Germany through entering West Berlin, then moving freely onto other countries, the communist government, on 13th August 1961, erected a barbed wire barrier which divided and encircled the city.  This was soon replaced with a pre-formed concrete barrier 3.4m (12ft) high and running for a length of 156km (97 miles).  Further modifications took place including a second wall with the gap in-between known as the ‘killing strip’.  After successful uprisings in neighbouring communist led countries the people of East Germany demanded change.  On November 9th 1989 following a TV announcement that access to West Berlin would be allowed the people flooded the wall and it ‘fell’.

Today only fragments remain and as I touched on in a previous post the longest section is the East Side Gallery in Friedrichshain – Kruezberg not far from the banks of the river Spree.  Here 105 artists from around the world painted their thoughts on this grim reminder of times past.

A chilling memorial
The most famous work is ‘Fraternal Kiss’ depicting Soviet leader Leonid Brezchnev and East German President Erich Honecker. Underneath is written ‘My God help me to survive this deadly love’.
"In Sensurround sound in a two inch wall
Well I was waiting for the communist call
I didn't ask for sunshine
And I got world war three
I'm looking over the wall
And they're looking at me"
From inside the ‘killing strip’ a view of the west side of the gallery wall
"They're staring all night
And they're staring all day.
I had no reason to be here at all.
Oh now I got a reason it's no real reason
And I'm waiting at Berlin wall
I gotta go over the Berlin wall.
I don't understand it (I gotta go over the Berlin wall)"

'Holidays in the Sun'  Sex Pistols 1977
The iconic East German car the Trabant breaking through the wall
Timeless slogan

If you have the chance to visit Berlin allow time to view the East Side Gallery.



14 thoughts on “East Side Gallery – Berlin

  1. 1980. West Berlin. A bowl of gulaschsuppe and a beer at a small café just off Kurfurstendamm Strasse. The vibrancy of a big city, the charm of the German people. The grim reality of ideology personified by The Wall.

    The series on your visit to Berlin stirred wonderful memories, Brian!

    I hope to return to see the changes and experience the bittersweet East Side Gallery.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If you return Wally I think you will like what you find. A friendly, modern city unified and happy but with places to reflect on the past. It was, for me, a great experience and happy my daughter is enjoying her life there.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It has been thirty years since the Berlin Wall or Fascist Wall as it was called by GDR politicians. For all of us unforgettable pictures that took place on the 9th of November 1989.
    There remain memories and the pictures that show you. We are all happy that the wall no longer exists. The graffiti of unknown artists, which I personally consider worth seeing, are unfortunately gone forever.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember watching events unfold on TV, it was a time of great joy and unity for your country. It is good to have small reminders so this generation can ‘feel’ history and make sure it’s never repeated.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The price of Freedom is eternal vigilance … yeah, right.

    Be as vigilant as you like but the true price is Action. Hee hoo holds the gun dictates the actions, no?


  4. Definitely a dipole of despair that led to the wall’s creation to keep a population in followed by the triumph of perseverance that resulted in its destruction. Too young for the construction, but remember vividly the live images as it was being tore down in that distant land. Thanks for the history reminder B! – if we forget the past, we are doomed to repeat.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I realize that more now – how deeply inter-connected geographically and politically all the European countries are. Yet such striking diverse cultures! I guess that’s why the BREXIT thing appears to be so frustrating – what are your thoughts on that?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. A very divisive subject Michael. For me the EU has moved so far away from what started as a ‘common market’ and is continuing on a path of total unification. My personal view is this is wrong. I believe each country should have it’s own identity yet live and trade freely. It’s strange that the ‘Soviet Bloc’ disintegrated yet now European countries are forming their own ‘Bloc’. Those who run the EU are un-elected and pretty much un-accountable and because of this other European nations are seeing a rise in so called patriotic politics, so things are very unstable.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thankyou for the summary Brian – What you said makes a lot of sense. I don’t really follow most politics in this crazy world (even Trump-land) so I didn’t even know that the EU leaders are unelected and virtually unaccountable. What a frustrating situation!

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s