New Year's Eve 1989, Brandenburg Gate: New Year's Eve celebration at Brandenburg Gate [10/12]



December 31 1989
Berlin, Brandenburg Gate
Created By: Bernd Schmidt

License: Creative Commons License


celebration, crowd, fireworks, New Year's Eve, night


alcohol, anxiety, crowd, fall of the Berlin Wall, farewell, hope, joy, sorrow, visit, We are one people!


Brandenburg Gate

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"I found the fall of the Wall and the time that followed truly moving. For me, it was a great historic blessing which opened up lots of new possibilities – one could accept it, which is what I did, but one could also reject it, which is what I saw a few people in the West do. The feelings we had at the time were very intense, and yet difficult to describe: on the one hand, everyone felt very emotional about being able to participate – which they actually did at the time – in something unique and amazing. Perhaps this had to do with people's longing for connectedness and homeland (something that the slogan 'Wir sind ein Volk' (We are one people!) picked up on and reflected successfully). On the other hand however, these feelings also had something to do with taking leave of things old and familiar since something new, indefinite and unknown was beginning.

I was very embracing of all the changes. And all the more because of what I had experienced previously – prior to the fall of the Wall – on day trips (otherwise known as 'small border traffic') to the East. I had seen a lot of oppressive things in the Eastern border area. The old facade of intimidation, the fence built on mistrust and fears, had now collapsed. As can be seen in the photos of New Year's Eve, people had scaled the historical representations of power like the Brandenburg Gate and the nearby Wall; they were dancing on the fallen symbols of a decaying power, and with much exuberance – I thought it was great. My wife and I had heard about the huge crowds gathered at the Brandenburg Gate while at a party. We spontaneously drove there with a couple of fellow guests. When we arrived, I was taken aback by how relaxed, relieved and happy people looked. But a latent underbelly of aggression made for a threatening atmosphere. There was no doubt that this had to do with the insecurity people felt as a result of an old power symbol like the Wall having been assailed. In the midst of this charged atmosphere, someone pushed into me and I nearly fell over. My wife was worried this may provoke a fight since so many of the people around us were inebriated."

Bernd Schmidt (Göttingen)