Thousands to celebrate twenty years since fall of Berlin Wall

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Monday, November 9, 2009

The fall of the Brandenburg Gate in 1989
Image: Lear 21.

Leaders from around the world are set to join hundreds of thousands of people in Berlin, Germany tonight to celebrate twenty years of the fall of the Berlin Wall, an historic event which contributed to the end of the Cold War.

As the capital prepared for the anniversary of the Wall's fall with festivities planned throughout the city, United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for renewed worldwide efforts for freedom for those still living in repressive regimes. "Our history did not end the night the Wall came down," she said last night to influential political figures, past and present. "To expand freedom to more people, we cannot accept that freedom does not belong to all people. We cannot allow oppression defined and justified by religion or tribe to replace that of [communist] ideology."

Celebrations will centre around the Brandenburg Gate, which has become the symbol of German reunification since the peaceful revolution that opened up the Wall in 1989. Much of the Wall has since been demolished, although a section of the 155 kilometre (96 mile) long wall remains serving as an art gallery for graffiti artists.

Host German Chancellor Angela Merkel reminisced that the end of the Cold War came as a total surprise. "The 20th anniversary of the fall of the Wall should remind us all what incredible luck we had with the reunification of Europe and Germany," commented Merkel, who grew up in communist East Germany, in Monday's edition of the Bild newspaper.

Other leaders expected to attend are Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, along with former Polish President Lech Wałęsa, once leader of the Solidarity trade union and former Hungarian Prime Minister Miklós Németh, who decided to open his country's borders, both who were key players in the downfall of communism in Europe.

Berlin's Mayor Klaus Wowereit summed up the feeling of the people. "History is palpable and alive here," he said. "The peaceful revolution of the fall of the Wall 20 years ago paved the way to an unprecedented transformation of Berlin."