We dare say, no other gallery in the world holds such historical significance as the East Side Gallery in Berlin. 1.3 kilometers of consecutive remains of the Berlin Wall painted by more than 100 artists, make it the biggest open-air gallery in the world.
The Berlin Wall was once a symbol of oppression and physical and political division between Western and Eastern ideologies. As a result of World War II, Germany was divided into 4 occupation zones. The West was ruled by the United States, Britain and France while the East was ruled by the Soviet Union. Berlin, being the capital of Germany, was also divided into four occupation zones. West Berlin became an oasis of capitalism in the communist East. A large percentage of the population from East Germany began emigrating to the West and tensions between governments increasingly grew over the years.
On the night of August 12, 1961, the Berlin Wall began being erected to prevent people from the East from entering the West and vice-versa. The Berlin Wall was heavily guarded by 12,000 border troops, barbed wire, and other measures. The point was to make sure nobody would cross it. The Wall would stand 155 kilometers long and would physically divide East and West Berlin for 28 years.
After years of division and political tension, on the 9th of November 1989, during a press conference, an East German government official, Gunter Schabowski, gave the following announcement:
“Permanent relocations can be done through all border checkpoints between the GDR [East Germany] into the FRG [West Germany] or West Berlin. As far as I know, it takes effect immediately, without delay.”
As the press reported the news, hundreds of people gathered around the wall and began to tear it down. The atmosphere was euphoric and hopeful. People began reuniting with friends and family immediately.
Between March and September of 1990, artists from all over the world came to Berlin to paint and commemorate the historic event of reunification. The Berlin Wall became a symbol of freedom and hope and a place for artists to express their opinions about social and political issues. Today, the East Side gallery is a heritage-protected landmark and a place that perfectly captured a moment in history through art.
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