News / Europe

Protesters Block Dismantling Part of Berlin Wall

Protesters Block Dismantling Part of Berlin Walli
March 02, 2013 10:14 PM
Protesters in Berlin are trying to stop developers from dismantling one of the longest remaining stretches of the Berlin Wall. But as Michael Scaturro reports, they face an uphill battle.
Michael Scaturro
Protesters in Berlin are trying to stop developers from dismantling one of the longest remaining stretches of the Berlin Wall.   But, they face an uphill battle.

The Berlin Wall was once of the starkest reminders of the Cold War.  It was put up by communist East Germany in 1961, to stop its citizens from fleeing to West Berlin.  But today, the wall that once snaked around the whole German capital is almost entirely gone.

Except for at the East Side Gallery.  Today, the one-mile-long stretch of the wall contains murals by artists from around the world.

But on Friday, construction workers began removing a 22-meter chunk of the wall, the first step in a project that aims to build a luxury apartment tower on the site.

And that has caused a stir -- 200 people turned out to protest, and three were arrested.

Kani Alvi is an artist whose mural appears on the wall.  He says the wall is too historically significant to tamper with.

"This is the longest remaining stretch of the wall.  If we take it apart, we won't have proof to show future generations how extensive the wall was, and how it divided the people," he said. "And this is a message that we must continue teaching.  Without the wall, future generations won't believe how it really was."

The mayor of Berlin declined to comment for this story.  But Volker Thoms, a spokesman for the builder, Living Bauhaus, told VOA that his company intends to reconstruct the pieces of the wall elsewhere on its property.  He also noted something that even local papers and some Berliners have pointed out -- that this valuable land had been sitting disused for years.

The wall is technically a protected historical site. But last week, the city gave the go ahead to remove part of the wall.  Tourists were surprised at the news, including some students from the New York area.

"We actually just heard of plans today, and I was a little surprised to hear that actually," said Ali Bergstein.

"I was really shocked, we found out this morning when we were planning to come here, and we think it's kind of terrible," Abby Seelig said.  "It's such a monumental part of history.  And for them to move it, tear it down to build something modern is just horrible."

Berliners shared their reaction.

I think it's dreadful, at a place like this, which is so historic [a] place - they're changing the whole character of the city," said Philip Winter. "I think they should keep it as a park for the people, not for the few rich people who can afford to be here.

The protesters vow to continue their fight in court to protect a piece of Cold War history.

You May Like

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Berlinica from: New York
March 05, 2013 4:16 PM
The Berlin Wall is not totally gone; some parts have remained, even some watchtowers, as well as memorials and pictures of the dead. You can find them all assembled here:

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs