I stand in front of the colorful graffiti wall of the East Side Gallery. I am far too young to remember the day the Berlin Wall fell. I was born can only imagine the feelings of East and West Berlin as the city was reunited for the first time since World War II. It was a symbol of the Iron Curtain between the Capitalistic West and Socialistic/Communist East.
The wall was built between 1961 and 1989. It was built by the German Democratic Republic, aka East Germany. The wall enclosed West Berlin and cut the western half of the city from the surrounding East Germany. The wall was designed to stem the flow of emigration and defection from East Germany to West Germany. The wall made it hard to escape East Germany but didn’t stop it completely.
The East side of the wall was a bleak and dismal symbol of oppression. The wall is just that a brick wall when viewed from the east. The West side of the wall shows a different story. It became a mecca for artisans and musicals. The West side of the wall was quickly turned into an exhibition of protest art. On November 9, 1989, the gates on the wall were opened after unrest and other factors lead to a change in East German policy.
Destruction of the wall didn’t start until the following June. Some larger section of the wall were saved and are on display throughout the world but most of the wall was demolished by the government or souvenir hunters. Today, only a small sections of the wall is still standing in its original position. One of these section is the East Side Gallery. This 1.3 km section has 105 paintings painted in the days and weeks after the wall fell.
I took the subway from my hostel down to East Side Gallery. I walked from the subway station over to the start of the Gallery. It is an open air gallery that free to the public. In recent years, there has been some restoration done on the wall to repair the weather damage and other graffiti. It is very easy to see which pieces have been restored.
It took me about two hours to walk the length of the gallery. I stopped to enjoy the art work as well contemplate the meaning and feelings behind each painting. I could feel the joy and hope each artist put into their work along the wall. It was disappointing to see some visitors writing their names on the wall.
I loved getting to walk along the wall and see the history and see some of the famous works of art int he East Side Gallery along the Berlin Wall.
Have you been to the Berlin Wall or walked along the East Side Gallery? What is your favorite piece of art on it?
Check out the Path of Remembrance where I walked from the train station to Dachau.