May 7, 2009 / 6:59 PM / 10 years ago

Berlin exhibit commemorates peaceful revolution

BERLIN (Reuters Life!) - A new outdoor exhibition documenting the peaceful revolution of 1989 that culminated in the fall of the Berlin Wall opened on the German capital’s Alexanderplatz square Thursday.

Visitors watch an outdoor exhibition marking the 20th anniversary of the political movement in East Germany leading up to the collapse of the East German state in Berlin May 7, 2009. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

The exhibition, a main feature of Berlin’s commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the symbolic end of the Cold War, focuses on the role played by civil rights activists in the former East Germany, or GDR.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier opened the exhibition 20 years to the day after local elections that civil rights groups contested, marking what he said was the beginning of the end of Communist rule.

On that day, said Steinmeier, “the GDR was finished, because civil society had conquered it.”

“This exhibit rightly showcases those who made the revolution happen,” he added.

“These were first and foremost not those individuals written about in the history books, but the courageous citizens of the GDR, thousands and hundreds of thousands of them.”

On November 4, 1989, tens of thousands of people gathered in Alexanderplatz demanding peace and democracy in the largest unauthorized demonstration in East Germany.

Banners bearing the words of their chant, “Wir sind ein Volk” (“We are one people”) are displayed above the exhibition.

Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit, who opened the exhibition with Steinmeier, welcomed the many GDR opposition leaders present.

“The exhibition we are opening today is not meant to be in a museum,” he said. “The memories of autumn 1989 are too recent.”

The exhibition will remain open around the clock until November 14. Entrance is free.

Reporting by Jacob Comenetz

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