The fall of the Berlin Wall
Today we mark the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. This is a good day to reflect on our past, but also how important it is to think about the future of Europe. The fall of the Berlin Wall was a seismic event that very much dictated the new shape of Europe. There have been many events and articles to mark the anniversary and at the German embassy I had the opportunity to listen to a very interesting panel discussion with several contemporary eyewitnesses. The panel included journalists, a writer and an artist and was chaired by the FT journalist Quentin Peel. The stories were all fascinating and I particularly enjoyed listening to the BBC journalist Nick Robinson who was present at the dramatic press conference on November 9th with the East German spokesman Günter Schabowski. The spokesman was overwhelmed by the many straight questions from journalists and did not know how to handle the situation. He subsequently gave the false impression that the wall was open, which made East Berliners flock to the wall to cross over to the other side. Just two months before it was widely believed that unification was not on the cards. The story is told in more detail in the book “The Collapse: The Acccidental Opening of the Berlin Wall” by Mary Elise Sarotte.
A special wall had been set up outside the German embassy where Thierry Noir had painted some of his colorful figures. Noir is a French artist who painted the Berlin Wall 1985 – 1989. His conclusion after years of painting the wall was that “you can paint with many kilos of paint, but the wall will never be beautiful.”