Around 100,000 people celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall with a big party in front of the Brandenburg Gate. The security concept raises questions.
The anniversary week marking the fall of the Wall comes to an end with a bang and Beethoven Photo: picture alliance/Bernd von Jutrczenka/dpa
At the end of the week celebrating the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Wall, everything came together again at this one, central place – or, rather, the more than 100,000 visitors who, according to the organizers, at least tried to do so, with the coming together on Saturday evening in front of the Brandenburg Gate.
For the central act of this emphatically decentrally organized festival week was obviously not a sure-fire success: at times, the party threatened to collapse because the security at the entrances to the Strabe des 17. Accordingly, there was a "mad scramble" in front of these pinholes, several visitors told the taz. The security service was definitely overburdened, the situation could have easily gotten out of control at times.
The police saw things differently on Sunday, speaking of a "completely peaceful" course of events. Although the accesses to the festival area in front of the stage had to be "temporarily closed" due to the large number of visitors, this is nothing unusual at large events. A total of 2,100 officers were deployed on Saturday evening. The entrance controls, however, were in the hands of a security service.
According to eyewitnesses, the closed entrances were particularly problematic. One visitor reported that the Strabe des 17. Juni was more or less "empty," while the atmosphere outside the entrances continued to heat up. Then suddenly, within minutes, very many had crowded onto the square in front of the stage. The interior administration, which was responsible for the security concept, could not be reached on Sunday.
Fireworks at the finale
Those who made it to the front of the stage were treated to an approximately two-hour show including a fireworks finale in the early evening, including a performance of Beethoven’s "Fate Symphony" by the Staatskapelle conducted by Daniel Barenboim.
Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD), meanwhile, warned in a speech against new walls in society, against which one can only fight together: Alluding to the recent electoral successes of right-wing parties such as the AfD, he said "walls of frustration, walls of anger and hatred, walls of speechlessness and alienation" had emerged. "Walls that are invisible, but nevertheless divisive. Walls that stand in the way of our cohesion."
According to the events agency visitBerlin, a total of one million visitors came to the various readings, concerts and performances during the seven-day festival week, which were spread across seven locations central to the peaceful revolution throughout the city – including Alexanderplatz, of course, but also the Gethsemanekirche in Prenzlauer Berg and the Stasi documentation office in Mitte.