Next stop freedom? –
An urban exhibition along the U5
1848. 1918–19. 1953. 1989.
Today we take democracy and freedom for granted. But we have always had to fight for them, and we must continue to defend them. This exhibition commemorates key moments and places in the history of Berlin’s struggle for democracy and freedom. It is spread out over several U-Bahn stations on the U5 line between Alexanderplatz and Magdalenenstraße, and in the area around Rotes Rathaus.
If I had to say what, in addition to peace, I value above all other things, then without qualification, my answer would be: freedom. Willy Brandt, 14 June 1987
Philipp Scheidemann proclaims the first German republic on 9 November 1918 from the west balcony of the Reichstag.
On 4 October 1990 members of the West and East German Parliaments meet in the Reichstag to form the first all-German legislature since the end of the Second World War. Just three months later, following elections in West and East Germany, a new, united parliament is formed.
In June 1987, American president Ronald Reagan visits West Berlin. He gives a historic speech in front of Brandenburg Gate, calling on Mikhail Gorbachev, his Soviet counterpart and the leader of the Communist Party, to reunite the divided city. His words – “Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” – go down in history.
I always knew that a day would come when we would play there, and that the damn wall wouldn’t last forever. There’s just no way - it’s so sick, totally absurd. Udo Lindenberg, German rock musician, 2008.
On 7 October 1989, inside the Palace of the Republic, the GDR holds the official celebration of the 40th anniversary of its founding. Meanwhile, in front of the building, people gather for the largest spontaneous protest rally in East Berlin since the uprising on 17 June 1953.
Life punishes those who come too late. Michail Gorbatschow, Soviet head of state and leader of the Communist Party, 6 October 1989 in East Berlin
On 29 October 1989, Günter Schabowski faces critical questions from roughly 20,000 people who have come to Rotes Rathaus for the Sunday Talk.
Communism has been swept from the world stage by those whom it pretended to make happy. It failed, both economically and socially. It proved to be a bloody dictatorship. And it was unable to reform. Günter Schabowski, 7 November 2004
Fighting on the barricades at Alexanderplatz during the night of 18 March 1848, colored lithograph.
On 7 October 1989, residents in Karl-Marx-Allee stand on their balconies, which have been decorated for the 40th anniversary of the founding of the GDR, and watch the military parade. In the evening, thousands demonstrate at the Palace of the Republic, chanting “Gorbi, help us!” and “Freedom”.
Residents of Karl Marx Allee watch the military parade from their flats.
Foreign communist state and party leaders take the salute at the military parade from the VIP stand by Schillingstraße, 7 October 1989.
Schillingstraße and Strausberger Platz: principal sites of the uprising on 17 June 1953 in East Germany.
During the March Revolution of 1848, violent clashes occur at Strausberger Platz between freedom fighters and the state authorities. Barricades are erected, and the subsequent fighting claims hundreds of lives.
‘The Strange Year of 1848. A New Illustrated Periodical.’ An illustrated broadsheet depicts the events of 18–19 March 1848. Lithograph, coloured. Demonstrators wave black, red and gold flags; soldiers of the royal forces open fire.
Commemoration ceremony for the victims of the Chinese democracy movement in front of Samariterkirche, 28 June 1989.
That prayer and candles could bring a dictatorship to its knees – this was something that, at times, not even we dared to hope. Margot Käßmann, former head of the German Evangelical Church, 2009.
Headquarters of the State Security Service (MfS), located between Ruschestraße and Magdalenenstraße.
The best thing about East Germany was its end. Tom Sello, 27 November 2017.