East 54

Berlin between old walls and new

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The German capital, even without ‘that’ wall, finds ways to shut out the world.

A quarter of a century on from the fall of the wall, the segments still standing continue to divide Berlin and are somehow representative of a city caught between future and past, between property speculation and the right to housing, art and rubble, increasingly international yet hardly cosmopolitan.

Some of the remaining parts of the wall were demolished last year in order to enable construction of a luxury apartment complex.

Modernity is advancing, even if this means removing the symbol of Europe divided by the Cold War piece by piece. The five metres that were demolished (out of the 1.3 km still upright) were situated in the East Side Gallery, its longest segment, and a stretch covered with historic graffiti.

The requalification of the area sparked protests from artists and intellectuals who feared that other parts of the wall would be demolished to make way for new building projects.

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