History, Culture and Memory
Edited By Katia Pizzi and Marjatta Hietala
1 Commemorating the Berlin Wall: Forms and Spaces of Collective Memory after the Cold War
Remembering the German division
The main commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the building of the Berlin Wall started at 9 am on 13 August 2011 at the Memorial in Bernauerstrasse.1 Delegates of local and federal institutions and of political parties inaugurated the day of celebration by depositing wreaths along a (reconstructed) part of the Wall. The show organized by the local media-channel RBB started at 10 am.2 This alternated between various formats: talk shows with witnesses; documentary films of the event; a concert with a rock-star from the German Democratic Republic (GDR); a quiz-show for students on the GDR’s past, etc. Viewers were amused, they laughed and clapped their hands. When they were hungry, they went to the street and bought a hotdog or a pancake. The street, from the metropolitan station Nordbahnhof all the way along to the Mauerpark [Wall Park],3 was packed with visitors who walked, took breaks in cafeterias or chatted ← 17 | 18 → with the staff about memorials that commemorated Stasi victims,4 or the peaceful revolution of GDR citizens. The cemetery area and the meadows filled with the ruins of destroyed buildings were also crowded with people who read informative texts on the history of the place or, more relaxingly, sunbathed and played guitar (see Figures 1.1 and 1.2).5
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