November 2019 marks the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berliner Mauer, the wall that divided Germany’s capital city for around 28 years. Berlin will host a whole series of events throughout 2019, in particular throughout November, to take a look back at the events that unfolded. If you plan to be around in the fall of 2019, it’s going to be a pretty special time to be in Berlin.
What are we celebrating?
- On August 13th, 1961, Berliners everywhere woke up to discover barbed wire fencing had been erected throughout the night, separating East from West.
- The wall remained in place (with fortifications and extensions) for 28 years.
- At least 138 people died attempting to flee, though thousands made it across. They built tunnels, flew hot air balloons, jumped out windows and floated across rivers.
- An ill-considered spontaneous remark from an official during press conference covered by the media led to the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989.
So what’s happening in Berlin?
These events are listed chronologically, and more will be added as they become announced.
Photo Exhibition at Kulturbrauerei
Feb – Aug 25, 2019
Until the end of August, Kulturbrauerei in Prenzlauer Berg is currently displaying photographs of East Berlin post reunification, taken by Daniel Biskup between 1990-1995. Biskup is now a very well known photographer, documenting important periods in recent German history.
August 13-15 from 16:30
Halle Ostkreuz/ Theater Strahl
This award-winning play covers three decades and plenty of family drama, with fabulous music and a bunch of laughs. The play runs from 13-15 August and naturally, the Berlin Wall tears straight through the heart of the subject matter. It’s in German, as is the guided tour, except for August 14th – on that day, you can get a guided tour in English.
The Berlin Wall Race
Held since 2011, the Berlin Wall Race is an event that remembers the victims who lost their lives at the former border. The participants run a distance of 100 miles (161 kilometres) around former West Berlin, starting in Prenzlauer Berg. Each year the race is dedicated to a different victim. In 2019, the event honours Dieter Wohlfahrt and will take place on August 16 – 18. It is believed that Dieter Wohlfahrt was the first non-German victim of the former border. He attended school and university in West Berlin and soon became involved with aiding escapes across the border using the sewage system. His Austrian passport allowed him to pass back and forth between East and West without suspicion. Whilst aiding an escape, Dieter was killed at the border and remained there, motionless for over an hour while attempts to rescue him were blocked. The race is sold out, but until the end of July, you can buy a starting place off a participant willing to sell one. Otherwise, you can volunteer or just support the runners along the way.
Street Parties for German Reunification Day
Three significant venues will put on a magnificent show in the open air for the Tag der deutschen Einheit. This year, it falls on a Thursday and is a public holiday, so you can pretty much guarantee that no-one in Berlin will go to work at all on Friday. If you like crowds, music, food and fun, loiter about on Straße des 17. Juni, Platz der Republik and the Brandenburg Tor.
The Peaceful Revolution (Open-Air, Across the City)
November 4-10, 2019
This is probably the biggest public event and will be the talk of the town for most of Herbst. You can follow ‘Berlin’s Path to Revolution’ and see a series of exhibitions at seven of Berlin’s most historically significant spots: Gethsemane Church, Alexanderplatz, Brandenburg Gate, Kurfürstendamm, East Side Gallery, Schlossplatz the former Stasi Headquarters. There will be concerts, discussions, screenings and firsthand accounts of a divided city. This Festival of Freedom will host people from all over the world. There’s a great opportunity for schoolkids to get involved and submit inspiring video projects to be part of the festivities.