Although the first day in Berlin did not entirely impress me, our second day in Berlin was one of the best days I have had studying abroad so far. Our tour on the second day focused on the street art that blankets the city of Berlin. Thinking back to the first day, I had not noticed the art at all. The beauty of the artwork that is splashed all over Berlin is that it takes patience to understand what is being portrayed. To truly grasp what the artist is expressing, you can not simply breeze by it.
As I mentioned in my last post, Berliners do not want to remember being separated from their loved ones between the years 1961 and 1989. Taking a second glance at those dates you will realize this is not too far back in history. In fact, it’s troubling to understand that it was only twenty-seven years ago that a wall with guard towers held armed guards that shot and killed anyone trying to cross between East and West Germany.
It was not until November of 1989 when half a million people peacefully protested against the government in the local square. With such great numbers standing in front of them demanding change, the government had no choice but to let the citizens, who have not seen their family in twenty-seven years, unite. November of 1989 marked the first time the citizens of Berlin realized, as long as they stand united, no one can stop them. Thus, there is still a heavy population in Berlin that keeps the feelings of hope, inspiration, and freedom of that day in 1989 alive.
The emotions that run deep into the soul of these Berliners spill onto the largest remaining portion of the Berlin Wall as the only wanted remembrance, their freedom. The Berlin Wall is covered in street art all symbolizing what they were deprived of, diversity and freedom of expression.
I was touched by the artwork and the idea of inspiring the masses. Between painting, spraying, sticking, drawing, or carving Berlin is enriched with emotion for all to see. To outline some of the artwork I saw, one read “Many small people, in many small places, do many small things that can alter the face of the world”. Another read, “STAY TRUE, STAY ALIVE” meaning the only way to consider yourself alive is staying true to yourself.
Continuing down the wall, perhaps the edgiest and most pictured mural is The Socialist Fraternal Kiss. The artwork recreates the moment of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev kissing East Germany President Erich Honecker symbolizing their agreement for Soviet aid in protecting the Berlin Wall and its borders. The mural is captioned, in German, depicting the voice of west-side citizens inside of the Berlin wall pleading for mercy.
“God help me to survive this deadly love affair”
Moving to the Berlin Wall Memorial, we were able to hear stories of the attempts to jump, climb, or even drive through the Berlin Wall in hopes to escape the captivity. The remains are complimented and remembered by visitors leaving inspiring quotes along the wall.
“There is no path to peace, peace is the path
“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace”
“None, but who have lived it can understand the real meaning of this wall. What really scares us is how easy it is to lose our freedom”
And the final quote that echoed through the memorial remembering the separation of the devastated loved ones.
“Please don’t be angry when I’m not here for you. Love me like I love you always and forever”