Berlin Wall 25th anniversary commemorates fall and freedom

by Nov 10, 2014Berlin

It’s been 25 years since the Berlin Wall came tumbling down … suddenly, surprisingly, peacefully. Memories of the wall’s horrors seem like yesterday to those of us old enough to remember it and to have personally seen the wall and its “death zone.” Today, more than a generation has no personal memory of its terror, suffering and death.

Berlin Wall 25th Anniversary historical archive photo from 1989 at the Brandenburg Gate.

Berlin Wall 25th Anniversary. Berlin Wall Historical Archive Photo from November 11, 1989, showing the wall and guards at the Brandenburg Gate. Photo by Uwe Gerig.

Berlin Wall 25th Anniversary – remarkable art installation

To commemorate the division beginning in 1961 and the freedom following the wall’s collapse in 1989, Berlin rebuilt the “wall” with white helium-filled balloons. The Berlin Wall 25th anniversary public art installation designed by two artist brothers followed the former wall’s path – little of the original wall remains today with only sections marked by a line of bricks embedded in streets and sidewalks. On the evening of Nov. 9, 2014 – 25 years to the day that feared checkpoints and guard towers were abandoned to open East-West transit –- the balloons were symbolically released, rising freely into the night sky.

Berlin Wall 25th Anniversary balloons at Brandenburg Gate.

Berlin Wall 25th Anniversary. Helium balloons recreate the wall at the Brandenburg Gate 25 years after the photo from the historical archives shown at the top of this story was taken. Photo by Daniel Bueche.

Personal stories about the wall’s impact on the lives of many people have been linked to the public art display on the brothers’ microsite, fallofthewall25.com, available in both German and English.

Berlin Wall 25th Anniversary Spree River Helium Balloons

Berlin Wall 25th Anniversary. Helium balloon wall along the Spree River recreates the former Berlin Wall. Photo by Daniel Bueche.

HI Travel Tales has spent some time in Berlin – and promises to spend more. Berlin is a hard city to not love – the depth of history around every corner sucks you in, the plethora of great restaurants and breadth of culture feeds your soul, and a kind of gritty coolness enlivens the mind.

Take a walk along Bernauer Street where neighborhoods were divided by the wall. You can easily spend hours meandering along the former “death zone,” reading plaques about those who died in their attempts seeking liberty, listening to audio recordings of those who lived through it, and re-living the shock that is recreated with photos — see our story on walking the Berlin Wall.

Berlin Wall 25th Anniversary -- a line of bricks along Berlin city streets mark where the wall stood.

A line of bricks along Berlin city streets mark where the Berlin Wall once stood.

Don’t miss the somewhat grungy Mauerpark that was also a central point of the separation since the wall ran along its edge — watch a short HI Travel Tales video featuring Mauerpark here.

Find your way to some of the remaining wall sections and a guard tower near the Berlin Wall Memorial, and then try to envision an entire city surrounded by this and try not to be moved to tears — click here to view a digital watercolor of a section of the Berlin Wall created by Michael Hodgson.

For additional information:

>> The official Berlin Wall 25th Anniversary website.

>> An excellent story in Fast Company magazine about the brothers behind the Berlin Wall 25th Anniversary balloon installation.

>> The microsite for the two artist brothers behind the white helium balloons that recreated the Berlin Wall.

>> Short video highlighting the release of the commemorative balloons on the evening of Nov. 9, 2014.

Berlin Wall 25th Anniversary - Why?

A section of the Berlin Wall left standing in Berlin carries the graffiti tag we are still asking today … why?

HITT me with quick facts and travel tips

Need a place to stay in Berlin? We recommend using Booking.com for the best selection and lowest rates.

Research your visit to Berlin by looking at all the articles and recommendations we have made from personal experience here.

Here are several guidebooks on Berlin we recommend: Lonely Planet Berlin (Travel Guide); Rick Steves Berlin; and DK Eyewitness Guide to Berlin.

Be prepared for anything. Even in Berlin, things change and anything can happen. Don’t leave home without the right travel insurance. We recommend Global Rescue for emergency evacution coverage and advice and World Nomads for travel insurance. Get a travel insurance quote here.​

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Heads up! This information on the Berlin Wall 25th Anniversary was accurate when we published it on HI Travel Tales, but, as we know, traveling is all about changes (and inflation, sadly). It is your sole responsibility to confirm prices, transportation schedules, hours of operation, safety and health considerations, and any other important details before your adventure.

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Therese Iknoian

Co-Conspirator at HI Travel Tales
Little did her parents know that a short trip to Europe in high school would launch a lifetime love of travel, languages and cultures. Trained as a news journalist, Therese Iknoian now focuses her writing and photography talents on travel. Fluent in German, Therese also runs a translation business (ThereseTranslates.com) working primarily with companies in the outdoor/sports/retail industry. She's a French speaker, and loves to learn a bit of the language wherever she goes -- gdje je kupaonica? Мне нужна помощь! -- often embarrassing herself in the quest for cross-cultural communication. Therese is an award-winning member of the North American Travel Journalists Association.
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