Fifty years ago, Soviet-dominated East Germany's construction of the Berlin Wall began a separation that lasted 28 years. When it finally fell in 1989, the symbol of German division and the Cold War was obliterated. This year, the city will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Wall's construction in 1961 with memorials, museums, sights and special tours, with a special emphasis on its inhumanity, and the disruption, fates and hopes of the people on both sides of the 99.4 mile barrier. We took a look at the year's events, which include exhibits, performances, ceremonies and art installations.
Like a Tinderbox! The Berlin Crisis and the Building of the Wall
Allied Museum Berlin's special exhibition offers a wide scope of the events surrounding the construction of the Berlin Wall. Including the 1958 Soviet threat to drive the Western troops out of Berlin, the tank stand-off at Checkpoint Charlie in 1961, and the Cuba Crisis in 1962, the exhition touches on how the barricade permeated into the lives of Berliners as much as the Allied soldiers, featuring personal souvenirs for guests to get a glimpse into life during the Cold War.
On Living. Photographs by Thomas Hoepker and Daniel Biskup
From May 12 until October 3, 2011, German Historical Museum/Pei Building is dedicated a photo exhibit to the Iron Curtain and the East-West conflict. Photographers Thomas Hoepker and Daniel Biskup followed the political upheaval in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and its larger consequences. During the 70s Hoepker worked as a GDR correspondent, while Biskup's travels took through the Soviet Union, during its break-up.
“Wall Images” Art Installation
This summer, from June 15 to August 27, up to three black-and-white oversized photographs will be placed at thirteen locations along the trail of the Wall. Each depicting the 1961 view from that specific spot toward the respective other sector, the photos are literally snap shots of the year that was. Opening June 15, the exhibits occurs on the exact day on which East German Party Chief Walter Ulbricht said, 50 years ago, that “No one has the intention to build a Wall."
Roger Waters presents The Wall
In the tradition set by Pink Floyd, who performed The Wall live in Berlin on July 1990, to mark the Wall's literal downfall eight months prior, Roger Walters takes the stage, performing The Wall at Berlin's O2 area June 15 and 16, 2011, followed by a 28-date tour of the 1979 album. Early buzz says guests can expect Walter's concert to have new visual interpretation of the album and be more political than the original tour.
Official Commemorative Ceremony
On August 13, a ceremony will commemorate the anniversary on the actual day, with the official address by Federal President Christian Wulff. Starting at 10 a.m. at the Wall Memorial at Bernauer Strasse, dedicated to the victims of the Wall, the event will include an ecumenical prayer, wreath ceremony, opening of the memorial’s new outdoor exhibition, as well as the speaker program, the "mile of contemporary history" informative walk, and open-air cinema.
“We’re Going Across….” Art Installation (to be confirmed)
Although we're still waiting on confirmation, we find the possibility of this event remarkable. On August 13, 1961, at 1.14 am, passengers of the S-Bahn train at busy Friedrichstrasse station were ordered off the train by an announcement that said continuation of the trip would no longer be possible, since all passage between East Berlin and West Berlin had been truncated. That same announcement is set to be broadcast again in the trains, platforms and station, and markers on the floor will show the borders and checkpoints where members from each side were stopped from enterting.