The Berlin Festival Week from 4 – 10 November marks the 30th anniversary of the Peaceful Revolution and the fall of the Berlin Wall: the capital city will be transformed into a large open-air exhibition and event location. In over two hundred events at seven original sites of the Peaceful Revolution, visitors are invited to learn, remember, debate and celebrate.
For seven days over the course of the festival week, the story of the Peaceful Revolution and the fall of the Wall will be brought to life at the places where it unfolded:
From the processes that led to the formation of the East German opposition, which is addressed at Gethsemane Church, to the largest protest demonstration on 4 November 1989 on Alexanderplatz, to the scenes of joy at the Brandenburg Gate following the opening of the Wall. Equally important are the first encounters between West and East Berliners on Kurfürstendamm. Elsewhere, the festival will commemorate the occupation of the Stasi Headquarters in Lichtenberg on 15 January 1990, which finally deprived the SED of its most important instrument of power, and – in what was probably the greatest success of the Peaceful Revolution – the first free elections and the subsequent establishment of the first freely-elected parliament in GDR history, which will be examined on Schlossplatz, the current site of the Humboldt Forum. At its final station, the iconic East Side Gallery, the festival will highlight this symbolic act of cultural appropriation.
3D video projections on key sites
The past will become particularly tangible as large-scale 3D video projections combining images, animations and sound effects at the festival venues enable visitors to immerse themselves in the events of 1989 and 1990. At Alexanderplatz, for example, the wishes, hopes and demands of the hundreds of thousands of demonstrators who boldly defied the SED leadership here on 4 November 1989 can be experienced anew. At the Humboldt Forum, the historical façade of the former parliamentary building – the Palast der Republik – will be visible again, and the important stages and events on the road to a democratic GDR will be illuminated.
The historical foundation: Exhibitions at seven locations
The events will be presented using texts and images at each location, allowing visitors to delve into history in accordance with their own personal interests.
The recollections of contemporary witnesses will render the exhibition’s narrative even more palpable. Their stories were collected and curated in a large interview project, to be integrated as essential elements into the exhibitions, using quotes and listening stations. Those interviewed include civil rights leaders, unknown participants in opposition activities, observers of events from West and East Berlin, immigrants, church representatives, individuals who left legally and others who fled, as well as victims of the Stasi and artists.
The project will effectively serve as an instrument for education and communication, composed of seven exhibitions spread across the city, reflecting both the relationships between each of the sites and the diversity of topics: from global and European contexts to local events, from the long history of resistance to the Communist dictatorships to the role of the Western media in the fall of the Wall, from the many different ruptures and transformations of the 1990s to the perspective of immigrants.
The programme of events
The festival programme comprises well over two hundred events, including numerous concerts, such as “Mauern werden einstürzen” with Patti Smith and Tony Shanahan at Gethsemane Church and the programme “Erinnerung” at the Pierre Boulez Saal. There will be other concerts by Die Seilschaft and the Bolschewistische Kurkapelle Schwarz-Rot. Plays such as “Krokodil im Nacken”, a staging of the Klaus Kordon book for young people and adults, and Die Schwäne vom Schlachthof in cooperation with the Maxim Gorki Theatre are examples of the wide-ranging theatre programme.
The festival will also feature numerous workshops, film screenings, readings, contemporary witness accounts and discussions with journalists, historians and politicians, as well as tours of the city’s history – a programme for a story that is as varied and diverse as the voices telling it.
You can find out all about the event programme on the project website: mauerfall30.berlin/en/program.
The evening of 9 November at the Brandenburg Gate
The festival week will reflect the many and varied perspectives on the events of 1989/90. The stage show at the Brandenburg Gate on 9 November will commemorate the most significant event in the city’s recent history: the fall of the Berlin Wall. A team of civic-minded people, some of whom were protagonists of the historic events, join in a two-hour cross-media production, blending musical acts, drama, light shows and a talk with civil rights activists into a narrative about a part of the German history of freedom. The stage show will be opened with some words of welcome by the Governing Mayor of Berlin Michael Müller, and addresses by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier as well as Marianne Birthler civil rights activist and Federal Commissioner for the Records of the State Security of the former German Democratic Republic.
The orchestra of the Berlin State Opera (Staatskapelle Berlin), conducted by Daniel Barenboim, and Anna Loos, Trettmann, Dirk Michaelis, Zugezogen Maskulin and Die Zöllner are the artists scheduled to perform on stage in front of a monumental video dome serving as a screen for projections. The stage show, directed by Sven Sören Beyer of the Berlin artists’ network phase7 performing arts, will culminate in an after-show party hosted by DJ WestBam, which will link up with the European Club Night, taking place in 27 clubs in Berlin and 27 clubs across Europe.
The Wall in 3D: Augmented reality app MauAR
The innovative augmented reality app MauAR visualises the division of Berlin along the Wall from 1961 to 1989. The app presents users with a 3D model, true to the original, in the camera view of their smartphone or tablet. By means of texts, audio and video, the wall comes alive along its original length of around 160 kilometres. Five special episodes developed on the occasion of the festival week recount the events at the historical sites. Among them: a virtual experience of the demonstration held on Alexanderplatz on 4 November 1989. MauAR can be downloaded free of charge at www.mauar.berlin.
30 000 messages in an art installation at the Brandenburg Gate
Following the banners that were borne during the demonstrations of the Peaceful Revolution, this September all Berliners and guests of the city are invited to share their own messages, wishes and hopes for the future or their memories of the past. These special ribbons will be integrated into a large-scale art installation, known as a Skynet by Patrick Shearn of Poetic Kinetics, that will float weightlessly in the sky at Brandenburg Gate during the festival week. Participants can also post their digital messages on the project website www.mauerfall30.berlin.
Film project “Done with courage!”
Courage, the fall of the Wall, walls today: What do Berlin pupils think about these topics? Short films made by children and young people will be presented on the website www.mauerfall30.berlin and during the festival week.
A project of Kulturprojekte Berlin GmbH on behalf of the Berlin Senate Department for Culture and Europe. In cooperation with the Berlin Commissioner for the Examination and Reappraisal of the Communist Dictatorship in East Germany, the Berlin Wall Memorial, the Robert Havemann Society, and many more partners, supported by the Senate Department for Culture and Europe, as well as H&M and Berliner Sparkasse.