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Condos Vs. The Berlin Wall: Protesters Try To Stop What’s Left Of The Berlin Wall From Coming Down
March 1, 2013
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The Berlin Wall was one of the most iconic structures of the 20th century. Most of it is gone now - torn down with the end of the Cold War.

But three sections are still standing - including 1.3 kilometre stretch along the Spree River - to commemorate a big part of German history.

Well now, developers are removing part of that stretch, to build a road leading to a new luxury condominium.

Today, hundreds of protesters showed up to try to stop it. Some of them even set up a mock piece of wall to fill in the gap.

Others carried signs, including one that read: "Does culture no longer have any value?"


The developers managed to take down about 1.5 metres (5 feet) of the wall before police decided it wasn't safe to keep working.

Another 18-20 metre stretch is scheduled to come down, to make way for the road.

As of this writing, more than 30,000 people had signed a petition on calling for the project to be stopped.

Work crews are expected to return in the coming days, during the night, to remove the rest. The protesters say they'll be back too.


This stretch of wall is often called The East Side Gallery. It's the longest section of the old wall that's still standing and is a popular tourist spot.

After East Germany opened its borders in late 1989, about 120 artists from around the world were invited to paint murals on this section - all of them meant to represent freedom.

The murals include former Soviet Leonid Brezhnev and former East German leader Erich Honecker kissing.


There's also an image of a Trabant car crashing through the wall. The Trabant was the most common type of car made in East Germany.


The piece that was removed today showed the Brandenburg Gate, which was closed off by the old wall for years. Now, it's Berlin's most popular landmark.

A few years ago, the murals were renovated and restored at a cost of $2.6 million.

"With our art we documented the peaceful revolution - it is a document that needs to be saved for the next generations," artist Kani Alavi told the Associated Press.

"If we destroy it now, we have nothing left to illustrate our past -- we have to fight for keeping this historic document."

Alavi's mural, which is not affected by the construction, shows hundreds of people running through an open wall.

Volker Thoms, who's with the condo developer, pointed out that the sections being removed aren't being destroyed.

They're being moved to a nearby park along the river.

"The artists aren't very happy about this, but in the end their paintings and their art will not disappear, it will just not be in the wall but behind it," he told AP.


One of the protest organizers, Robert Muschinski, called the project "a scandal" and "embarrassing."

"Today we showed the world we would destroy a longtime part of our history in favour of the interests of private investors."

The BBC spoke with a couple of people who are protesting the development. You can watch that below.

Another small section of the East Side Gallery was removed a few years ago as part of a plan to build a new sports arena.

The Berlin Wall divided East and West Germany for 28 years. Most of it was torn down and taken to museums, used for highways or sold to tourists.

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