Berlin is preparing to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Peaceful Revolution and the fall of the Wall with a large, city-wide festival to be held from 4 to 10 November. Over the course of seven days at seven historical sites, the city will transform into a unique open-air exhibition and event location.
The story of Berlin’s Path to Revolution will be told at several sites, each representing key events in the 1989/90 period. Large-scale presentations set up at the Gethsemane Church, Alexanderplatz, Schlossplatz, Brandenburg Gate, Kurfürstendamm, East Side Gallery or the former Stasi headquarters in Lichtenberg will invite visitors to immerse themselves in the unique era of upheaval that occurred in 1989/90. For example, at Alexanderplatz, visitors will be able to experience the desires, hopes and demands made by hundreds of thousands of demonstrators who stood up against the SED (East German) regime here on 4 November 1989. On the building facades of the former Stasi headquarters, visitors will be able to see people’s demands for the abolishment of the secret police.
These special presentations, which will consist of historical images and films accompanied by sound installations, will also create the backdrop for a multifaceted exhibition and event programme – organised in cooperation with museums, memorial sites, associations, educational institutions, initiatives and artists groups. In addition to commemorating the victims of the SED dictatorship and the division of the city along the former inner-city border wall, this decentralised city presentation will offer a schedule of over 100 events that allow visitors to experience the historic events of the Peaceful Revolution in the form of an on-site “parcours” through time and space: beginning in Central and Eastern Europe and making its way through the wave of successful escape attempts starting in summer 1989, GDR-wide protests and demonstrations, the fall of the Wall in autumn of that year, the storming of the Stasi headquarters and the first free elections in the GDR held in March 1990.
As Klaus Lederer, Berlin’s Senator for Culture and Europe, noted: “The Peaceful Revolution and the fall of the Berlin Wall are among the happiest and most important events in German history. And yet, not everyone is in the mood for celebration. The act of rejoicing and recalling the successes of those courageous citizens who fought for democracy and political participation 30 years ago is increasingly coming up against criticism related to what came after those remarkable events. For many, the post-Wall era brought not only new freedoms, but also new worries and fears. It’s time we took up these disconcerting aspects when recalling the 1989/90 era. And it’s time we took a critical look at the transformation process of the 1990s. Indeed, it is in this era of rapid change that we find many of the causes of the political challenges we face today. Instead of playing one side off the other, it is more important than ever that we communicate very clearly the value of democracy, political engagement and self-determination. This is especially the case when honouring the achievements of those who took to the streets in 1989 to demonstrate peacefully for their rights and who ultimately brought down the Berlin Wall. At precisely this intersection of memory, commemoration and celebration, Berlin is eager to mark the 30th anniversary of the Peaceful Revolution and the fall of the Wall”.
With a programme consisting of seven open-air exhibitions, these themes will link the original historical sites to form a so-called Path to Revolution, along which visitors will be able to enjoy and participate in concerts, panel discussions, eyewitness interviews, readings, film screenings and poetry slams. For this purpose, the team at Kulturprojekte Berlin is looking for individuals who experienced the historical events of 1989 live and in person at the various locations in Berlin. In this regard, Kulturprojekte is sending out a call for “who was there?,” who will be invited to tell their stories and speak of their experiences, memories and opinions, thus forming an integral part of the celebrations.
Moritz van Dülmen, CEO of Kulturprojekte Berlin (the body that organised similar celebratory events on behalf of the Berlin Senate in 2009 and 2014 and will be doing so again in 2019), noted the following: “In order to better comprehend the fall of the Wall and best celebrate the 30th anniversary, our goal this year is to tell the story of events in the 1989/90 era precisely at those locations in Berlin where the events took place, that is, along the path of the Peaceful Revolution. Among the locations representing this path will be the Gethsemane Church, Alexanderplatz and the Brandenburg Gate, but also the Ku`damm and the Stasi headquarters in Lichtenberg. We invite everyone to join Berliners and guests from all over the world in celebrating a city-wide festival at the original historical sites of the Peaceful Revolution and the fall of the Berlin Wall”.
The highlight of the one-week celebrations will be a city-wide music festival held on the evening of 9 November. Along the so-called Path to Revolution, the city will celebrate a Festival of Freedom together with Berliners and guests from all over the world. A number of stages will feature renowned national and international artists whose sounds and stories are somehow connected to the events of 1989/90 or whose work stands for freedom and the breaking down of walls. With the help of a wide musical spectrum ranging from classical music and jazz to rock, pop and hip-hop, the final celebration draw on the power of music to create an impressive finale, in which the same song will be played on all stages in the city. Musicians, orchestras and bands will join with audiences to sing this song, thus transforming the entire city into one large community of revellers.
This project is being carried out by Kulturprojekte Berlin GmbH on behalf of the Berlin Senate Department for Culture and Europe and in cooperation with the Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer (Berlin Wall Memorial), Berlin’s Commissioner for the Reappraisal of the SED Dictatorship, the Robert Havemann Society and many other partners.
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