24 Jan Berlin’s East Side Gallery
Berlin’s East Side Gallery is a 1.3 km section of the Berlin Wall. It has 105 paintings from all over the world that were painted on the east side of the wall in 1990. Many paintings were ruined or vandalized but since 2009 many of them were restored by the original artists. The wall, what is left of it, runs along the river Spree. So at this section the actual divide of the city was the river.
When I visited it was early in the morning. Just after seven. I had a meeting at the Czech embassy for my visa and was leaving right after. So this was my only change. It seemed a little creepy at first. It was cold and the wind was the only sound around. Even the streets were bare, only a few cars moved by every so often. I started near the Oberbaum Bridge and turned left and followed Mühlenstraße.
The wall loomed above me and, at times, was intimidating. But it was less so than I had imagined. I had thought the feeling would be similar to a concentration camp or communist museum. That feeling was of dread or fear. Fear of the things things that happened there or dread at what might happen in the future if history were to repeat itself. But at the East Side Gallery that feeling wasn’t as strong. Maybe it was because some of the paintings showed a future, a promise. Maybe it was because I was outside on a cold, but sunny morning in East Berlin and I was free to move back and forth. Or maybe because most of the events in Berlin before 1990 was new to me.
For some reason I had greater knowledge of other events in history than I did of a divided Berlin. At that time I knew only the basics, a divided city, a separated government, a horrible time in history. For some reason I had greater knowledge of other events in history than I did of a divided Berlin. At that time I knew only the basics, a divided city, a separated government, a horrible time for people.
It seemed strange that this wall, now colorful and unthreatening, divided two opposing countries. Had it been the Great Wall of China size maybe the intimidation factor would still be there. But since it seemed someone could crawl over it, it seemed no more than a garden fence.
There’s a lot I could say about the wall, what’s left of it, and the murals. But I think it’d be better to let them do it instead.
What did you think of the East Side Gallery? Let me know in the comments below.