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    Posted October 31, 2009 by
    Berlin, Germany
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    CNN30: Fall of the Berlin Wall

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    The Fall of the Berlin Wall: My Experience


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     American expat markcain was in a bar in Bamberg, West Germany, when the Berlin Wall fell on November 9, 1989. He and his buddy decided to hitchhike up to Berlin and check out the scene. After a four-hour trip of car hopping, traffic in and out of Berlin had cars at a standstill on November 10. They left the car on foot and entered the city, joining in the celebrations and champagne drinking. He snapped these photos on November 10-12, 1989.
    - zdan, CNN iReport producer


    During the 1989-90 school year I was studying at the university in Bamberg, West Germany.  On November 9 in the evening I was at a bar with a TV on, and suddenly everyone got quiet, and then they started cheering wildly.  The Wall had fallen.


    My friend Alex and I immediately started making plans to hitchhike to Berlin, packed a backpack and got on the road just before sunrise on November 10.  When we got to the East German border-crossing in Hof, I could see hundreds of Trabant cars on the other side waiting to be let out.  As we travelled north into East Germany, there were thousands and thousands of Trabant cars in a massive traffic jam waiting to exit the country.  They were out of their cars, cheering and hugging each other, and waiting patiently.  We drove north for one hour from the border at 100km per hour, with cars backed up headed the other way.  That means there were approximately 100 kilometers of cars queuing to leave the country.


    As we entered Berlin, the couple who had picked us up tried to drive towards the Brandenburg gate.  As we took a left at the Siegessäule, the roads were totally blocked, so we said our goodbyes and headed out towards the Wall in front of Brandenburg Gate.  We arrived about 1 hour after the East German troops had kicked all the partiers off the Wall in front of the Brandenburg Gate, and just after a group had pulled down a piece of the thinner wall just to the right of the gate.  Troops now occupied the Wall as we arrived.  I started taking pictures and joining in the euphoric revelry.


    Alex and I walked all along the wall between Brandenburg Gate and Potsdamer Platz, then headed to the Kurfürstendamm in the evening where there was a massive spontaneous party happening.  We drank beer and wine in the streets with strangers from East Germany, all night long.  On November 11, we slept until the early afternoon on the floor of a small apartment of some friends of Alex. Afterwards we hit the streets again and attended a free concert in a large arena to commemorate the fall of the Wall. The crowd was so big in front of the arena that we couldn’t get in and I got separated from Alex, but ended up with one of the girls from the apartment, which I was not sad about because she was very good looking! We managed to get in after a door randomly opened to let someone out and we were squeezed into the arena. I remember that the concert was free and included Joe Cocker, Melissa Etheridge, Die Toten Hosen and I think Udo Lindenberg.


    Meanwhile Alex found out that there was to be a big border-opening event early the next morning, November 12, at Potsdamer Platz. This would be an official border crossing, and the mayor, Walter Momper would be there to greet the East-Berliners with flowers and fanfare. The first cars and pedestrians began to stream across the no-man’s land at 8am, which is about when Alex and I arrived. There were so many thousands of people watching that we quickly got separated from one another. There were a few dozen people standing on top of the thin, tall wall on the right side of the opening, with one man standing for a long time directly on the edge, egging the crowd on to cheer and holding his hands up making the V-sign.


    At that point no one had yet climbed up on the left side. As I was standing near the wall, a man produced an extensible ladder and started climbing up. I was right behind him and I watched as many people started to follow me up. After getting settled on the wall, which had a rounded top, I could see on my left into the no-man’s land with all the East German soldiers lined up and on my right in West Berlin I could see thousands of people trying to get a glimpse of the ecstatic East Berliners crossing into West Germany, some for the first time. Someone passed around a bottle of champagne and I took a huge slug of it, even though it was about 9am and bitterly cold. I was up there for about 45 minutes, until I heard some East German soldiers barking orders and they began to line up in front of the wall in the no-man’s land. When they started unrolling water hoses I started to think about getting down, and when the ladder came back by me, I took advantage of the moment and climbed down. In the meantime Alex had climbed up into a tree and could see me climbing up on the wall and was cheering me on from afar.


    As we walked along the Wall one last time, from Potsdamer Platz to Brandenburg Gate, Alex pulled a hammer and chisel from his backpack and we began in earnest to try to get some souvenirs, knowing full well that the next time we were in Berlin, this portion of the Wall would most likely be gone. I still have a nice bag of Berlin Wall pieces, and my grandmother actually made a pendant out of one small, particularly colorful piece. As we hitchhiked back to school in Bamberg and to reality, it began to sink in what we had experienced and that we would be telling these stories for the rest of our lives.


    -Mark Cain

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