BERLIN (Reuters) - Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the imposing structure that divided the Communist East and the capitalist West lives on in public squares, parks and tourist souvenirs.
When euphoric Germans clambered on top of the Wall on Nov. 9, 1989, smashing it with hammers, it was hard to imagine it had a future.
But it has become an export hit. Segments of the Wall have been sent around the world as official gifts and tourists visiting Berlin often buy brightly colored pieces of rock that sellers say were once part of the Wall. Some come with authenticity certificates.
Not everyone is convinced.
“There’s not as much Wall as there is being sold,” said Bernd Breitenbach, a 67-year-old passerby at the Berlin Wall Memorial.
Sections of the Wall - which have been erected in countries including the United States, Ukraine and Russia - are a major tourist attraction in Berlin.
Seeing the East Side Gallery - a section of the Wall that artists painted in 1990 and which still stands - is a must-do for visitors.
Many like to have their photo taken by the painting of a Trabant - the classic car of Communist East Germany - bursting through the Wall, or by the picture of former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and former East German leader Erich Honecker kissing. It is a thought-provoking experience for many.
“I guess it’s quite shocking to see how it would have split communities and ... I’m thinking of places where there still are walls,” said Matthew Chaplin, a 24-year-old tourist from England.
Daria Ustymenko, a 35-year-old visitor from Ukraine, said: “Let’s say it’s like evoked some feelings, very deep feelings and emotional impressions.”
Reporting by Michelle Martin and Inke Kappeler; Writing by Michelle Martin; Editing by Giles Elgood