Thousands of people joined world leaders in the German capital Monday to remember the night 20 years ago when a euphoric wave of people power swept away the Berlin Wall and consigned the Cold War to history.
In scenes calmly mirroring the events of November 9, 1989, crowds thronged through the center of the once-divided city, joining German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a symbolic re-enactment of the first crossing of the breached Wall.
“It was worth fighting for,” Merkel said, after crossing the Bösebrücker bridge on Bornholmer Strasse, the checkpoint where people first poured across the frontier.
Merkel, the first former East German to lead the reunified country, was accompanied by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and Polish ex-president Lech Walesa as she kicked off events to celebrate the demise of the iconic structure and remember the darker sides of the communist regimes behind it.
Video: Berlin Wall dominos tumble
Video: Celebrating the wall’s fall
Video: When Berlin Wall came down
Video: Where went the wall?
* Berlin Wall
“It is not only a day of celebration for Germans. It is a day of celebration for the whole of Europe,” Merkel said.
Merkel was joined by Britain’s Gordon Brown, France’s Nicolas Sarkozy and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in a series of events, including solemn tributes and boisterous music concerts.
At the climax, a line of 1,000 giant dominoes was knocked over along a 2-kilometer strip where the Wall once stood –representing the domino effect the structure’s collapse had in ending communism across Eastern Europe.