The East Side Gallery in Photos
On August 12, 1961, the citizens of East and West Berlin went to sleep like it was any other night. They woke up on August 13, 1961 to a barbed wire fence separating the two sides. Residents in the East who worked in the West could no longer get to their jobs. Families were torn apart. Eventually the barbed wire fence was upgraded to a more permanent cement wall surrounding West Berlin in an effort to prevent East Berlin residents from defecting to the West. The Berlin Wall not only divided a city for decades, but it represented the split between democracy and communism during the Cold War.
On November 9, 1989, after the Soviet Union’s hold on surrounding countries had been weakening for some time, the border between East and West Berlin opened up. People rushed from one side to the other and celebrated in the streets. They also started chipping away at the wall that had suppressed their freedoms for so many years. The two sides of the country were finally reunited on October 3, 1990, and October 3rd is now a national holiday.
Despite the obvious reasons for wanting the wall completely destroyed, part of it was kept as a reminder of what had happened. From February to September 1990, it was covered in art and is now known as the East Side Gallery. I was only 9 years old when the wall came down, so I’m not even sure I was aware of it. But now after living in Germany for a few years, this history fascinates me. One of the first touristy things Andy and I did in Berlin last month was to walk the length of the East Side Gallery and look at the wide variety of art painted on it. Unfortunately some of it has been marred by graffiti, but the original paintings still shine through.
Though so many of the paintings on the East Side Gallery were very specific to the Cold War era and Germany’s history, it really struck me how many of the messages apply today, and to so many other situations. There are still many horrible things going on in the world today, governments repressing and killing their citizens, senseless wars, walls being built to separate one group from another. The Berlin Wall came down 24 years ago, but our planet still has a long way to go.
December 2, 2013 @ 1:08 PM
Great photos! And you are right – many of these messages do still apply to what is happening in the world today.
December 2, 2013 @ 8:45 PM
December 2, 2013 @ 5:18 PM
I loved checking out the gallery when I was there and would love to spend more time taking in the images next time!
December 2, 2013 @ 8:46 PM
I wouldn’t mind going back when the weather is a bit warmer! It’s hard to leisurely stroll down such a long stretch of road and really take it all in when it’s cold and windy.
December 2, 2013 @ 10:14 PM
Super photos Ali. I saw a little bit of the gallery but it got dark while I was there. Thank you for showing me what I missed.
Amazing expression of an incredible time in the world’s history.
December 4, 2013 @ 1:40 PM
Thanks Megan! It does get dark early here in the winter. Hopefully you can get back to Berlin again someday!
December 2, 2013 @ 11:29 PM
I love posts from the Eastside Gallery – we actually didn’t make it out there when we were in Berlin but we did see a bunch of other Berlin Wall artefacts and attractions. The story just blows my mind, especially the trials of the people who were separated from their loved ones or who tried to escape.
December 4, 2013 @ 1:41 PM
Thanks Andrea! I know, those stories are fascinating. I can’t imagine living through that time and actually experiencing what it was like to live with a wall cutting off Berlin like that.
December 3, 2013 @ 3:39 PM
wow, these are crazy
December 4, 2013 @ 1:42 PM
Sofie @ Wonderful Wanderings
January 4, 2014 @ 1:39 AM
I remember searching for the East Side Gallery.
Walk under the bridge… to the right…
I’m sorry we didn’t walk along the entire gallery, though. I think it’s a bit of a shame that you either have to walk on the sidewalk by the gallery, where you can’t get a good full view, or on the other side of the road, where you constantly see cars passing between you and the gallery.
January 4, 2014 @ 7:07 PM
It is kind of tough to get a full view of it from wherever you’re standing, but I’m not sure there was any other way they could set it up. Definitely a good place to see though for some Berlin history.