In 1989, whole Berlin celebrated the long desired fall of the Berlin Wall. Schulz employee Katherina recalls how she experienced the historical event live as a student. And 2019 Berlin is celebrating again: the 30st anniversary of open borders within Germany.
Rarely does it happen that a dull press conference on a cloudy autumn day changes the world. The 9th of November 1989 is such a day. “The German Democratic Republic has opened its borders until further notice”, announces Günter Schabowski, member of the East German communist party. Little does he know what he triggeres with these words. Still in the same night, thousands of people from Communist East Germany (GDR) drive honking through the otherwise closed border crossings to West Berlin. Strangers, East- and West-Germans, lie in each other’s arms, dance together on the wall and are happy that the inner-German border is finally a thing of the past.
An eerie feeling
Schulz-employee Katherina witnessed the fall of the wall at first hand: “When I was a child, it was strictly forbidden to enter the swamps in my neighbourhood. Large signs with the inscription “Attention, you are leaving the American Sector” pointed out that as West Berliners we had no business close to the border of the East. Of course, me and my friends went anyway in the swamp – we had a good time catching frogs.
Sometimes the border guards and their shepherd dogs discovered us. We would run away as fast as we could. When the wall came down, I was 16 years old. Our teacher decided to go to the wall with the entire class to celebrate. It was an eerie feeling because the border guards were still sitting in their towers watching us. But no one stopped us from crossing the border anymore.”
40.000 km of human tragedy
In 1965, when Ulrich Krzemien set foot on West Berlin river shore after swimming through Teltow Canal, he seemed to be very lucky. The 22 year old succeeded in what more than 10,000 people have not always successfully tried: escaping from East to West Berlin.
Three years later Ulrich was found dead in the river Spree – it is suspected he died while trying to swim his way back to East Berlin. So what had happened? Ulrichs family had stayed behind in the East – including his mum who raised her 6 children all alone after her husband never returned from the war. After running away to the West, Ulrich had no legal chance to see his family again without getting arrested.
Every wall, every closed border is more than just concrete and barbed wire. Every wall is a human tragedy and destroys families, friendships and relationships. 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell, 16 border installations existed worldwide. Today there are 65 walls or fences planned or already set up. 40.000 kilometers that are tearing people apart.
Schulz Hotel Berlin Wall is located directly at the former border installation of East Berlin. That’s why we exhibit 30 doves made of plaster in memory of people like Ulrich Krzemien, who have lost their life at the Berlin Wall. Come have a look at our installation in the corridor next to SchulzArena.
“The Berlin Wall obliges us to learn from history and to foster a cosmopolitan spirit!” Nizar Rokbani – Co-Founder and managing director of Schulz Hotels