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February 27, 2000

The East Side Gallery is a portion of the Berlin Wall of approximately 1,3 km. It is located along the river, which crosses Berlin, The Spree. At this spot of the town, the border between the east and the west of the town were the edge of the river.

The river itself belonged to East Berlin. The GDR, which was not able to place the wall on the west shore of the river, asked the soldiers to build only one wall but withdrawal the east shore. The guards of the border, to replace the no man’s land, made instead patrols with grey speedboats on the river, 24 hours a day, going very near to the edge of the shore, to show the enemies where the border is.

That´s why this section of the Berlin Wall, inaccessible for the West-Berliners, was not painted and remained grey until the beginning of 1990. This wall, considering its length, its greyness and its position along a large avenue, attracted after January 1990, all kinds of posters and advertising about any kind of concerts, events, parties, and films…

What a pity to see that historical part of the Berlin Wall, covered by posters and adds. Several people of East Berlin, and Christine Mac Lean, from the culture department of the British Embassy in East Berlin, had the idea and the opportunity to create a company, charged with the organization of the painting of this portion of the wall. From May 1990 and until October of the same year, more than 100 artists of various nationalities were invited to paint a more or less large part of this grey wall.

It was baptised “East Side Gallery”, “the gallery on the side east”, to recall that this wall had been side east of Berlin. That is also in homage to the art galleries of New York, which all are in the same district of “East Side”.

This portion of the Berlin Wall is as significant for the history of Berlin as the Church of the Memory, half destroyed by the bombs but preserved in the middle of the town, after the end of the war of 1939-1945. It is important for the young generations that they see this long part of the Berlin Wall, just like it is, to realize how horrible that border was, to make them taking conscious, to think about not to do the same mistake one more time.

The wall was not just a painted concrete wall but also a deadly machine, a sort of big crocodile ready to kill people at any time.

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