You were the people


Old Berliners in the media complained that twenty years ago even the Wetter was better. In 1989, the stars apparently shone down on revelers dancing on the Brandenburger Tor as they tore the wall to pieces. And the next day, when the East Berliners chugged onto the Kurfürstendamm—then the main drag in West Berlin—in their gas-guzzling Trabbies, the sky was blue. Of course, when I flip through photos from the famous day, the newly reunited Berlin of twenty years ago looks as grey as grey can be. Helmut Kohl (the then Chancellor) and Willy Brandt (the Social Democratic Party hero who partially reconciled East and West through his Ostpolitik) stood on a balcony above the Schöneberger Rathaus, in the midst of mist and rain, in front of thousands of people. Yesterday, the sky was perhaps even more unrelenting. Rain fell on a hundred thousand people as they elbowed each other for a view of the big screens that relayed images of the Tor (next to which a puffy Bon Jovi bawled out something about freedom). Although the ceremony seemed designed to rev Germans up, all around me I could hear a burble of other languages. While a kitschy German boy band performed a song about freedom, Spanish students enthusiastically noted how German the whole thing seemed. Americans ordered pizzas to go at a stand nearby; clumps of French tourists debated where to party after the ceremony.

more from Charles McPhedran at n+1 here.