Germans are marking the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Wall, with hundreds of thousands of revelers flooding the German capital Sunday. The celebration culminates with the release of thousands of lighted balloons.
Festivities marking the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall are underway in Berlin, with hundreds of thousands of revelers flooding the German capital Sunday to commemorate history. The event is being celebrated with speeches, concerts, and culminates with the release of thousands of lighted balloons marking the former course of the Wall.
Keep up with all the ongoing celebrations with the live stream of the events on the Deutsche Welle homepage, and check back for updates on the day's commemorations.
'Dreams can come true'
At a memorial on Berlin's Bernauer Strasse, Chancellor Merkel joined other dignitaries to honor the sacrifice of those who struggled for freedom against Soviet Communism in Germany and beyond.
"It took a long time and many people's suffering to make it possible for the Wall to fall, not just in Germany but also in Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and many other countries," Merkel said.
"That's something we should remember on a day like today."
Bernauer Strasse was the site of harrowing escape attempts when the Wall was first erected in 1961, including people jumping from apartment windows in attempts to reach the other side.
"The fall of the Wall has shown us that dreams can come true," Merkel said. "Nothing has to stay the way it is, however big the hurdles are."
Merkel also used the occasion to note that November 9 is the date of "Kristallnacht" or the "Night of the Broken Glass," when in 1938, Nazis launched a pogrom against Germany's Jewish community.
"That was the opening note for the murder of millions," Merkel said. "I feel not just joy (about the fall of the Wall), but the responsibility that German history burdens us with."
Honoring the fallen
Chancellor Angela Merkel as well as Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit and other leaders placed roses at one of the last remaining sections of the Berlin Wall, honoring those who died trying to escape to the West.
Services at the Chapel of Reconciliation
Chancellor Merkel attends services at the Chapel of Reconciliation with Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit (l) and Berlin Wall Foundation Director Axel Klausmeier (r)
Services were held at the Chapel of Reconciliation on Bernauer Strasse in central Berlin. The chapel is located in the middle of the former "death strip," meaning the Wall ran in front of the church on its western side and behind it on its eastern side.
The chapel marks the site of the former Church of Reconciliation, which was destroyed by East Berlin authorities in order to widen the Berlin Wall.
A wall of light
Hundreds of thousands were on hand Sunday to view a light installation which marks the 15-kilometer (9-mile) stretch of wall - once guarded, barb wired and absolutely prohibited to cross - that divided the city for nearly three decades.
Some 7,000 balloons illuminate the former path of the Wall, which nowadays is invisible, but for the odd plaque or remnant dotted across the city.
On Sunday evening, the balloons are to be set free into the night sky, this time lifting the divide into the heavens over the city - a stark contrast to the hammers, bulldozers and cranes that broke down the 3.6-meter-high concrete slabs 25 years ago.
bw/kms (AP, AFP, dpa)