Twenty years ago today, the Berlin Wall “fell,” reuniting West and East Berlin and, soon, Germany as a whole. Technically, on Nov. 9, 1989, Germans were free to cross the wall — which they did, by climbing over it — but it took a few weeks for the concrete to truly crumble in various locations as citizens dismantled it piece by piece. In the end, just a few remaining pieces stood, as segments were hauled off only to wind up in homes and museums around the world. But those last pieces of the Wall were used carefully: as the canvases of German artists, who painted the Wall with murals remembering the division in post-war Germany. The makeshift gallery, though, suffered from neglect over the years, and the murals began to fade and crack. Until this year, when some 90 artists from around the globe heeded the call from Berlin’s East Side Gallery and returned to the Wall to repaint those murals, including the “fraternal” (read: non gay) smooch between Soviet Union leader Leonid Brezhnev and East Germany’s leader Erich Honecker.
Not that the mural’s original artist, Russia’s Dmitri Vrubel, is pleased about this weeks’ grand unveiling.