In just over three weeks, people will be paying tribute to the 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. I am looking forward to seeing what they do in Berlin. I remember seeing footage of people dancing on the Wall back then. Years later, while speaking to a dancer/choreograph (and now director) who was born and raised in East Berlin, I asked her if she was perhaps one of those people celebrating on top of the Wall. Her response was rather anticlimactic.
Beate, my contact, explained that on that very evening, she was attending a reception after a performance. In the midst of the event, everyone heard the announcement that the borders were opening up. These announcements were being broadcast over loudspeakers from the West. It was one method the West used to send information to citizens behind the Wall. People at the party stopped what they were doing and walked over to the window to try to hear and see what was going on. Observing a buildup of tanks in the streets, they concluded that the news could not possibly be true. Beate told me that she remembers feeling irritated that the West would play such a prank by sending “false announcements” over the loudspeaker. They simply ignored it, shut the windows, and continued on with their event.
After the reception, Beate returned home and went to bed. It wasn’t until the following morning, after waking up, that she found out that the West had been telling the truth, and that she had missed the biggest party of all.