The Berlin Wall was torn down 25 years ago today. In 2009, I was living in Berlin and on this very same day, I got the chance to attend the 20 year celebrations at the Brandenburg Gate with my italian friend Andrea, whom I had met in Porto one year before and was also living in Berlin at the time. A funny coincidence: on this same day, a Monday back then, I started my internship at the Embassy of Portugal and I remember they were all very agitated as our prime minister at the time was going to be attending the cerimony.
Andrea and I managed to get a nice spot in Pariser Platz right in front of the Gate and from there we could see all the action.
One of the first symbolic moments was when all the leaders crossed the Branderburg Gate all together. Most of european leaders were there and also Hillary Clinton and Dimitri Medvedev, president of Russia at the time. Charismatic leaders of the final days of the Cold War such as Mikhail Gorbachev and Lech Walesa were amongst the guests. Our very own José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission at the time was also there.
After all the speeches and some musical moments, the big highlight of the night would be a giant domino made with 1000 pieces standing along the former wall and that were going to be toppled down.
It was a rainy evening but I was very excited with the fact I was in such a special place on such a special occasion. Let me remind you that this was 2009. The economic crisis was still a few months away from exploding in Europe and we were still a big happy family, celebrating an event that represented much of that union. However (and maybe the rain is to blame), this celebration was not so enthusiastic or cheerful as one could imagine it would be. I don't know how it was in 1989, but I heard stories of people celebrating all night and there was so much hope in the air, so many dreams becoming possible. 20 years later all that seemed somehow too normal and granted, so people were not ecstatic and as soon as the fireworks ended the cerimony, people just left orderly and quietly. Even my german girlfriend at the time arrived later because she prefered to attend university classes. To me, it was still a very special and beautiful moment. Here's a video that Andrea shot from where we were standing.
Back to 2014, today. We live in a different world. There's tension between Europe and Russia again. Putin is not going to be present. I'm curious to hear the speeches to see if they will have some substance or if they will be empty and filled only with demagogy. The fall of the Berlin Wall represented a wave of optimisim and faith in a better world that started to fade shortly after and we're all still decaying towards the unknown.
This is me in 2009 posing next to the fallen domino pieces!
What's in the future for all of us?