East Side Gallery

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Spread across Berlin you find small pieces of the old Berlin Wall still standing as memorials. One of the longest sections is the East Side Gallery – it is one of the most famous parts of the former wall thanks to the many paintings which was made on the wall shortly after it went down. The wall went down on November 9 1989 and the East Side Gallery was created between February and September 1990. The gallery has been subject to vandalism over the years but it has been restored so most of the original paintings are still visible in pretty good condition.

There are different kinds of paintings – this time around I mainly focused on the one with the wall in the center and some with particular symbolism on them.

The most famous of the paintings in the East Side Gallery is probably the Socialist Fraternity Kiss between Erich Honecker the former General Secretary of the East German Communist Party and Leonid Brezhnev the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The actual kiss took place in 1967 in Berlin during a party meeting of the communist party. The text of the mural reads My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love.

The fraternety kiss: Translation My God Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love

Another great painting which is among the famous paintings is the old Trabant – the most popular car made in the former East Germany. The car is driving through the wall smashing it to pieces. The number plate of the car is Nov 9 – 89 – the day the wall finally went down and the people of the East could finally visit the western part of the Berlin.

Trabi going through the wall

A worrisome painting is the curriculum vitae of the wall. The painting is simple – just the year the wall was standing from 1961 to 1989. On most of the years are one or more dots. Each dot symbolizes a person killed while trying to cross the wall to escape from the oppression of the East to the freedom of the West. A total of 136 dots is on the painting – most dots in the beginning when most people died trying to escape. Unfortunately 1989 the year the wall finally came down also got two dots for people getting killed before the wall finally came down.

Number of people killed at the wall – one dot for each dead in a particular year

I guess growing up watching the movie The Wall and listening to Pink Floyd’s album with the same name I can’t help notice the painting where there is a scene from the movie on the wall.

From Pink Floyd the wall

One man was probably more important for the final down fall of the wall and the reunification of Europe than anybody else. Without the reforms started by Mikhail Gorbachev the wall would probably have been standing for longer. So it is only fitting the man has gotten a spot on the wall in the East Side Gallery. He is steering a car driving through the wall – the steering wheel is made up by the hammer and sickle which used to feature on the flag of the Soviet Union.

Mikhail Gorbachev steering through the wall

Walking along the East Side Gallery is clearly one of the most interesting things you can do in Berlin if you have an interest in the symbols on the wall from the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall.


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