German heritage exhibit commemorates the 25th anniversary of the Berlin Wall’s downfall

Berlin Wall
Image courtesy of the Berlin Wall Foundation

Berlin: Divided Past, United Future

German American Heritage Center (Davenport) — Through Nov. 3

The German American Heritage Center in Davenport has put together an informative exhibit commemorating the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Berlin: Divided Past, United Future investigates the history of East and West Berlin from 1961-1989 through iconic photos and artifacts — including fragments of the wall, East German uniforms and hats, East German currency, newspapers and other artifacts — which bring to life the recent history of Cold War-era Berlin.

The exhibit details the post-World War II policies between superpowers that split Berlin into a Soviet-controlled East and an Allied-occupied West. This division eventually led the Eastern Bloc to construct the Berlin Wall so as to prevent East Germans from defecting to the West.

The show also covers the Berlin Blockade and resulting Berlin airlift. There are videos of two famous American presidential speeches urging for a unified Germany: Kennedy’s “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech and Regan’s famous “Mr. Gorbachev tear down the wall” speech. The exhibit includes interviews of people reflecting on the past 25 years since the fall and subsequent reunification of Germany. There’s footage of the euphoric celebration that surrounded that day on Nov., 9 1989 when the Berlin Wall finally came down. Interestingly enough, the German American Heritage Center has constructed a replica of the wall for visitors to graffiti or share their responses to the exhibition.

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