Nov. 11, 1989 file photo showing East
German border guards looking through a hole in the Berlin wall after
demonstrators pulled down one segment of the wall at Brandenburg gate.
Monday, Nov. 9, 2009 marks the 20th anniversary of the fall of the
Celebrations marking the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin
Wall have got under way in Germany with a prayer service at a former
East Berlin church that was a rallying point for opposition
activists two decades ago.
Thousands of people have poured into the German capital to mark the
event on November 9, 1989, which led to the reunification of
Germany, the collapse of the "Iron Curtain" and the end of the
congregation at the Gethsemane Church, which included Angela Merkel,
the German chancellor and Horst Koehler, the country's president,
Wolfgang Huber, a Lutheran bishop, said: "We remember the tears of
joy, the faces of delight, the liberation."
Merkel will be joined by pivotal figures from the era that ushered
in the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe as commemorative
events around the once-divided city continue throughout Monday.
Among those attending the events will
be Mikhail Gorbachev, the former leader of the Soviet Union, and
Lech Walesa, who led anti-communist protests in Poland as the head
of the Solidarity trade union.
Gordon Brown, the British prime minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, the
French president, Dmitry Medvedev, his Russian counterpart, and
Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, will represent the
four nations which occupied post-war Germany.
Events are planned all over the city, including the toppling of
1,000 giant, brightly coloured dominoes along a 1.5km stretch of the
wall's original path to symbolise how communist governments in
the Eastern Bloc fell one after another in 1989.
A concert will feature performances from Bon Jovi and the Staats
Merkel is reunited Germany's first leader to grow up in
the former Communist east.
The chancellor was working as a scientific researcher in East
Berlin when the wall fell.
Merkel said at the weekend that the fall of the wall was "the
happiest day in recent Germany history".
Al Jazeera's David Chater, reporting from Berlin, said there was a
real sense of celebration in the air.
"But it is nothing like that feeling on the streets on that day in
particular, because it marked the end of communism itself."
But for some German residents, the 1990 reunification of the country
remains a sore point.
On Saturday, several hundred leftist
demonstrators protested against the planned celebrations in Berlin.
poll of more than 1,000 Germans carried out for the
newspaper showed one in eight wanted the wall rebuilt - with the
numbers nearly equal in the eastern and western parts of the
Shaken by the mass flight of its citizens into capitalist West
Berlin, East Germany began erecting its "anti-fascist protection
barrier" in the early hours of August 13, 1961.
According to a study published this year, at least 136 people were
killed at the Berlin Wall between 1961 and 1989 while trying to
However, thousands managed to evade the minefields, dogs and guards
in watchtowers, using schemes including tunnels, aerial wires and
hidden compartments in cars in order to make it to the West.