On the historic night of November 9, 1989, East and West Germans danced together on top of the Berlin Wall. Hours earlier, anyone crossing the border would have been shot by GDR state security.
30 years later, a crowd of 100 thousand returned to Berlin’s historic Brandenburg Gate, which was once surrounded by the wall, to celebrate the legacy of the so-called ‘Peaceful Revolution’ and how changed the world.
At the height of the Cold War, East Germans stood up against a lifetime of dictatorship. Now, that courage and resolve are being remembered in a massive anniversary celebration.
Saturday night, speakers took the stage to reflect on the demonstrations that swept eastern Europe in the late 1980s. One powerful story came from a teenage refugee to Germany, who explained how the Wall coming down paved the way for her own emancipation many years later.
“So because of your fight for freedom, your faith for freedom, I have freedom again. So, this is how i see it,” she said.
Elected officials also recognized the United State’s role in the reunification of Germany. From the same spot where President Ronald Reagan famously issued his 1987 demand for an end to division, German president Frank-Walter Steinmeyer extended a new challenge to its ally.
“I can still see Ronald Reagan in front of this Brandenburg Gate and I can still hear his words ‘tear down this wall’. We owe a lot of gratitude to that America. And that America as a partner in reciprocal respect, as a partner for democracy and freedom, and an opponent of national selfishness, that’s the America I hope for in the future.”
Across Germany, a week of events and activities have included introspective discussions about Germany’s dark past, reflections on those historic moments, and a celebration of the spirit of its people, all designed to pass the spirit of the ‘Peaceful Revolution’ along to a new generation.
A concert featuring pop artists, rappers, and a symphony set the background for a massive fireworks and laser shower. Bright light symbolically illuminated the darkness, just as the people had hoped to achieve in their government and society three decades ago.
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