Berlin Wall Is Being Torn Down…Again
For the second time in a matter of only a few years, a chunk of the Berlin Wall, and the striking art that covers it, is set to be torn down
March 04, 2013
When the Berlin Wall was torn down from November 9, 1989, it was an incredible and enduring symbol of freedom. Nowadays, the surviving parts of the wall have been covered with a striking array of artwork commemorating the 50-year struggle between East and West, redefining the remains of the wall. However, if a group of property developers have their way, a portion of the 1.3km outdoor gallery known as the East Side Gallery — the longest remaining continuous stretch of the Berlin Wall — will again be torn down to make way for a series of luxury apartments.
Berlin company Living Bauhaus are the developers in question. Their proposed project, 'Living Levels', is a 63m-high tower of flats and offices with promises of "breathtaking panoramic views" of Berlin and described by the developers as offering buyers a "totally new dimension of life and living".
For those opposing the development, however, the damage it would cause the wall is difficult to measure in dollars and cents. Not only is the outdoor gallery Berlin's second most visited tourist attraction, with 800,000 visitors each year, but tearing down the wall is seen by many to be an affront to the memories of the countless men and women who were killed along the strip.
Club owner Sascha Disselkamp, who represents a coalition of high-profile clubs that have together taken a stand against the proposal, likened the development to "erecting a petrol station in front of one of Berlin's museums". Similarly, the artists responsible for transforming the outdoor gallery into the evolving and evocative work of art it now is aren't too happy to see it converted into an urban development project.
French artist Thierry Noir, whose famous "heads with big lips" are set to be torn down, joined the chorus of protestors this week. "All the paintings have become a symbol of freedom in Berlin and Europe," he told the Guardian. "Unlike elsewhere in the city, where the majority of the wall has been removed, this is a unique opportunity to preserve a large section of what was once a death strip. If you remove the sections, you're destroying the authenticity of this place."
The district's mayor, Franz Schulz, has confirmed the legality of the proposed demolition, stating "we'll have to do it." Although protesters have succeeded in stalling the demolition through growing demonstrations over the weekend, it is likely to go ahead during the night-time hours.