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American SectorBerlin Wall Photo GalleryAmerican Sector

Photos from the East Side Gallery

Of course, one of the monumental changes in Berlin was the disolution of the German Democratic Republic, or East Germany. This divided Berlin down the middle physically on August 12th, 1961, when the Berlin Wall came into existence. In an earlier speech, Chairman Walter Ulbricht, with the intent of calming the people of Berlin, stated they would not "build a wall" between the sectors. Many people took this as a hint and migrated to the West.

Beginning as rolls of barbed wire, slabs of concrete grew up through the Autumn to the barrier we now recognize. The wall was continuously reinforced through the years. The concrete piping was added later, to hinder grappling hooks and fingers from finding a hold. Ironically, this piping had to be bought from West Germany. In many cases houses belonged to one sector, while the street itself to the other. The GDR (German Democratic Republic as East Germany named itself) simply bricked up the windows and doors on those buildings to prevent escape.

This stalemate survived for nearly 30 years, with famous visits from Lyndon Johnson, John Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and the final dissolution signed by George Bush. By the time the wall finally came down, 5043 "wall-runners" were known to have escaped to the West, including 565 from the GDR armed forces. More than 5000 were captured in the attempt. The guards are known to have opened fire 1693 times, with at least 80 being killed as late as February, 1989.

As the remains of the wall were being torn down (some pieced up for souvenier post cards), almost 3/4 of a mile was left standing as a Berlin memorial, known since September, 1990, simply as the East Side Gallery. On the initiative of scottish gallery owner, Chris MacLean, 118 artists from 21 different countries were given a section of the wall to paint their own pictures. The work is claimed to be the largest open-air gallery in the world. The following pictures are some examples of this gallery when my friends Marcus, Mary and I visited it in early May.

Tight Squeeze This closeup picture makes it easy to see the piping added to the top of the Wall to prevent a grip needed to get over.
Welcome to Berlin Mary and I frame this lovely homage to the Berlin border, symbolizing the division of the past
Intimate Kiss Marcus and Mary jumped in to be part of this intimate moment between Soviet premier Brezhnev and Erich Honecker, one time GDR leader.
Dave Marcus and I leaving our mark on the Wall .. just kidding.
Japan The land of the rising sun seems to just be on the other side of the wall.
Pink Floyd - The Wall Pink Floyd closeup
The Wall Opens
Heads Family of heads along the wall.
Clean Nose Look out! You don't know where that nose has been!
Red China Test a Trabant!
East Side "Doin it cool for the East Side Gallery"
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