No way out: the Berlin wall and the art of the twentieth century

No way out: the Berlin wall and the art of the twentieth century

As a border strengthening has inspired filmmakers, artists and musicians.

Early on the morning of 13 August 1961, the street on which it was possible to leave the Soviet occupation sectors in Western Berlin was blocked by temporary barriers. Alerted units of the National people’s army of the GDR and the people’s police guarding the crews refutes hacking asphalt and cobblestone roads. Soon over barriers appeared and barbed wire, behind which stood — in for incidental protests from the West side — cars-cannons.

So began the erection of the Berlin wall, one of the darkest and most significant symbols of totalitarianism of the twentieth century.

The portal remember, as a border strengthening has suddenly become a source of inspiration for artists.

Restricted area

Between 1949 and 1961 about 2.7 million East Germans left their homes and moved to the Western sector — this was particularly true for residents of Berlin, often several times a day crossing the border between the occupation zones and had the opportunity to compare the standard of living in the “decaying” capitalism and “people’s democracy”. In 1960 only 200 thousand people — mostly under 25 years — have not made a choice in favor of the construction of socialism. Obviously, this situation did not suit either ruled in the GDR the SED nor its Soviet supervisors.

Rumors about the construction of the wall went from the mid-1950s; however, 15 June 1961, first Secretary of the SED Walter Ulbricht, answering a question of the correspondent of the Frankfurter Rundschau, said: “the Builders of our capital are busy with the construction of housing… no One is going to build a wall”. However, on 12 August, the Council of Ministers of the GDR issued a statement: “the border, normal for any sovereign state, will be installed at the border of the German Democratic Republic, including the border with Western sectors of greater Berlin, to stop the hostile activities of the revanchist and militaristic forces of West Germany and West Berlin”.

The next morning began the construction of the line of fortifications, which became the infamous Wall 106 km of concrete barriers up to a height of 3.6 m, earthen ditches, barbed wire, guard towers, searchlights and other paraphernalia, are more characteristic for the protection of the inhabitants of prisons, rather than to protect a truly national system.

The wall has become, in today’s language, a PR disaster: to find some satisfactory and convincing, at least for its own population justification for building one and could not. The official propaganda of the GDR referred to the construction of the “antifascist defensive wall” (Antifaschistischer Schutzwall); then mayor of West Berlin (and future Chancellor of Germany) Willy Brandt denounced its “wall of shame” (Schandmauer). In 1971, the GDR post issued a stamp series in honor of the 10th anniversary of the wall; letters with them to mail to Germany, in turn, returned to the sender.

However, since the early 1970s, the rhetoric has died down: the West has abandoned the use of the term “wall of shame” in the East, completed their fortifications, but were not pressing the issue “of defense against revenge-seekers” — the policy of detente and demanded a search for ways of coexistence and fruitful cooperation of the two Germanys. Soviet propaganda at all pretended that no wall exists, avoiding any mention of it — most people in the USSR were generally not very aware of the existence of such structures.

The break

Policy at the time “forgot” about the wall. Artists, she continued to worry about first becoming an integral part of spy novels and movies (beginning, perhaps, with a genius of its kind, “the Spy who came in from the cold” Lecarre in 1963 and its classic film adaptation of Martin Ritta two years later), and soon penetrating to other areas. From simple piles of concrete and steel the wall turned into a grim symbol of time, a metaphysical separator celokupnog, beautiful space — the very fact of its existence, transforming a structured, harmonious Universe in place of the domination of the forces of chaos (and on both sides of the barriers).

It was the site of the rift, a giant crack, breaking the world in half — no wonder the “Sky over Berlin” WIM Wenders from the wall materialized in our world, the incorporeal angels.

The wall as an archetype has gained unprecedented popularity in the rock music of the 1970s — you may recall though Lennon with his “Walls and bridges”, even though Pink Floyd with their “the Wall”, concert version of which Roger waters with great fanfare, introduced in 1990 on the spot where were still visible remains of the wall present. The wall served as a metaphor for dismembered, dead time and space. It is also felt in “Berlin” by Lou reed, tragicomic ballad about breaking up forever with that “in Berlin, the wall was 5ft 10 inches”, and “Heroes” for his friend David Bowie (who lived adjacent to the wall the whole end of the 1970s):

I remember how we stood against the wall — and overhead was firing. And we kissed as though nothing threatened us.

In General, for Western artists, this narrow strip of pavement along the wall was clearly seem that precarious area where the reality breaks through the world of dreams — or rather nightmares. All the famous “Berlin trilogy” of Bowie (albums Low, “Heroes” and Lodger, 1977-1979) imbued with a sense of anxiety and — perhaps not from scratch, but to find solutions — exactly the same as looking for him, and the inhabitants of the divided city (and not only its Eastern part — within 28 years of the wall in East Germany through the fence moved about four hundred West Germans).

By the way, some historians even believe that Bowie gave one of the first impulsesthat led to the peaceful revolution of 1989 and the fall of the wall. The concert 6 Jun 1987, hosted at the Republic square, close to the wall, and listened to thousands of residents of East Berlin. “We send our warmest greetings to all the friends on the other side of the wall,” Bowie shouted from the stage in German. On the other hand, however, there were not only friends: the people’s police broke up a crowd of young people using water cannons and batons, arresting about 200 people.

Anyway, the Germans recognize the merits of Bowie to Berlin.

After the death of the singer in January 2016, the German foreign Minister wrote on Twitter: “goodbye, David Bowie. You are now in #Characters. Thank you for helping us to destroy the #wall.”

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The wall itself also eventually played with new meanings — as a physical object. To leave her the inscription on the West side began in the 1960s, mostly political slogans in the spirit of “Germany must be United,” despite the danger to fall into the hands of agents of the Stasi, periodically appearing from hidden in the wall doors (the boundary line was not demarcated precisely and some of the adjacent side wall of sidewalks in the Western area, formally located in the territory of the GDR).

In 1970, West Berlin youth painted wall ornaments and absurd inscriptions; around this time, the graffiti culture was beginning to go beyond new York and across the ocean. Interestingly, one of these anonymous figures caught the eye of the bass player with Queen Roger Taylor and became the basis for the cover design of the album Jazz (1978).

French artist Thierry Noir became in 1984 the first who left on the concrete artistic statement in the form of graffiti — at least, so says the author himself. By the way, Noire appears in “the Sky over Berlin” — as himself; he stands on a ladder and painting a wall, adding paint and in the film itself: the frame becomes colored, as if symbolizing hope, are the search out of “nowhere”, of an abnormal world, “unbroken” reality.

Most probably the famous painting on the wall is already painted in 1990 on one of the surviving remnants of our compatriot Dmitry Vrubel.

Mural with kissing Brezhnev and Honecker, the delineation of photography in 1979, was called “Lord! Help me to survive among this mortal love”, and remains to this day as one of the most significant art objects in the new Berlin.

The spontaneous demolition of the wall began on the evening of 9 November 1989 thousands of people from both sides of the piece cracking the concrete, breaking through several passes. From 12 June 1990 to the experts, but still finally the wall was destroyed only in November 1991, six small areas were left as a memory and a warning to future generations.

The wreckage of the wall — and the demolition was formed 1.7 million tonnes of construction waste is snapped up Souvenirs that are still being sold at the flea markets of Berlin; however, as noted by some wag, judging by their inexhaustible quantity, the wall stretched to the Atlantic.

November 9, to celebrate, I wanted to declare a national holiday, but the story played with the Germans a cruel joke — on the same date, the anniversary of Hitler’s “beer hall putsch”, “Kristallnacht” pogroms and the execution of writer and diplomat, hero of the revolution of 1848, Robert Blum, so the idea of celebration decided to give up.