Date
15 December 2017
Illuminated balloons are released in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on Sunday night. Photo: Reuters
Illuminated balloons are released in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on Sunday night. Photo: Reuters

7,000 balloons mark fall of Berlin Wall

A string of 7,000 illuminated helium balloons filled the night sky as more than a million Germans celebrated the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The balloons traced the course over 15 kilometers of the barrier that once surrounded West Berlin, cutting it off from East Berlin and the rest of East Germany.

They were set free one by one on Sunday, to symbolize the breaching of the wall by protesters on Nov. 9, 1989, Reuters reported.

Festivities drew more than one million Berliners and tourists to the heart of the once-divided city. 

The anniversary of the wall’s fall was also marked around the world.

Pope Francis told tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square in Rome that it should spur people to try to topple other walls.

“Where there is a wall, there is a closing of hearts. We need bridges, not walls,” he said.

Earlier on Sunday, Chancellor Angela Merkel, a young physicist in Communist East Berlin when she got her first taste of freedom on Nov. 9, 1989, said in a speech that the wall’s opening in response to mass popular pressure would be eternally remembered as a triumph of the human spirit.

“The fall of the Berlin Wall showed us that dreams can come true and that nothing has to stay the way it is, no matter how high the hurdles might seem to be,” said Merkel.

“It showed that we have the power to shape our destiny and make things better.” 

But she noted that Nov. 9 was also the date, in 1938, of the anti-Jewish pogrom “Kristallnacht,” or “Night of Broken Glass,” when Nazis carried out attacks on synagogues and Jewish shops across Germany.

The Berlin Wall was built in 1961 to stop East Germans fleeing to the West. At least 138 people were killed trying to escape to West Berlin, and many who were captured ended up in jail.

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