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