Photo Essay: East Side Gallery (or the Berlin Wall anno 2011) |

Photo Essay: East Side Gallery (or the Berlin Wall anno 2011)

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10 August 2011

If I asked you to name two famous walls, what are the odds that you will say “the Chinese Wall and the Berlin Wall”?
One or two rock fans among you may also note Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”, but with that we've named the most known walls I guess. Even though WiKi teaches us that there are many more.

For those of you who have just arrived from another planet or have been sleeping through most history classes, I’ll give you a short explanation of what the Berlin Wall is.
Stick with me, it’s not that much.

After Wold War II, Germany was physically divided under the four victors of the war, being the USA, the UK, France and the USSR (Russia as we know it). The same thing happened with the political headquarters: Berlin.
The original idea was to build up the country together until it was ready to become independent again. But Joseph Stalin (former leader of the USSR, dictator, murderer and all-round asshole) had different intentions. He was building a huge communist empire, and his part of Germany was yet another step towards the West.
The structure of open borders started to bother him. There was too much emigration of Eastern Germans, Poles, Czechoslovakians and other inhabitants of communist countries who wanted to seek their luck in the West, and on the other hand there were too many capitalist influences from visitors from the West. So he started with the creation of an inner German border between Eastern and Western Germany, with army protected checkpoints .
What he did not consider was that Berlin, physically in Eastern Germany, still consisted of a US-UK-French department to which people could escape through East-Berlin. A bit like the principle of fleeing to an embassy.
And boy, did people use that opportunity.
During the following eight years, about 20% of the Eastern German population escaped to the West.
So in 1961 they (by that time Stalin was already dead, I’m talking about his successor Nikita Khrushchev now) started the construction of the inter-Berlin-border: The Wall.

In the following 28 years, this wall became a symbol of communist separation to the West. While the US and Western Europe were growing into capitalism, the Wall (or the Iron Curtain if you wish) formed the official border with the most mysterious part of the world.
Like every empire which was based on corruption rather than ideology, the communist empire started to fall apart. With eventually, on the 9th of November 1989, the fall of the wall as result.

Now, in 2011, most of the Wall has been demolished to make room for highways, hotels, malls and probably a McDonalds or two. But a piece of 1.5 kilometer has been saved and serves now as a street art gallery. The general theme of the gallery is "tolerance", this part of the wall is here to remember us about what happened and to make sure that this never happens again.


Side Note

The last picture of former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev frenching his East German counterpart Erich Honecker is probably the most famous piece of the East Side Gallery. But the connaisseurs among you must have noticed that another famous piece is missing: The one of the Trabant car driving through the wall.

Reason for that: There were too many people queueing to have there picture taken where they pretend to be on the car, under the car, in the car, escaping from the car, catching the car, pushing the car, eating the car and everything else you could possibly imagine yourself doing with a car painted on a wall.
And I did not want to wait in that queue.
But if you're curious, here's the image on another website.

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