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Ukraine's Europe

Inter-European dialogue, EU-Ukrainian relations

The Berlin Wall put in context

The Berlin Wall, constructed in 1961 to separate East and West Berlin during the Cold War, is a cause and consequence of a plethora of historical events and processes. It is also a symbol for artificial separation of peoples and ideas behind artificially created borders. In this respect it can serve as a perfect proxy, which allows to draw parallels to the EU-Ukrainian boundaries and their surmounting.

The Berlin Wall serves as a popular motive for various notions, often contradictory, like much in human life, such as free will, its suppression, activism and passivity, opposition and unity, migration and border control. But it is also a symbol for the break with the whole epoch of the Cold War and global confrontation.

The Soviet Block portrayed the Wall as a protection from Western fascist elements who conspired to circumvent the “democratic will of the people”.  This strain of reasoning is clearly and logically manifested in the continuity of today´s Russia aggressive policy against Ukraine. Russia occupied and annexed Crimea and Eastern Ukraine in 2014, disguising it under the same false pretenses of “protection against fascism” – the democratic Ukraine and the West in this case.


A GDR-built Trabant car, produced almost unchanged from 1957 to 1990, is a popular mention of the Communist era, stifling not only creativity and innovation but any human desires. Graffiti on the wall of the East Side Gallery.

The line of the original wall, chipped away by hoards of tourists.

A picture of a preserved 70-metre section of the former border strip, photographed from the roof of the Berlin Wall Memorial, located at the historic site on the Bernauer Strasse.

Berlin Wall graffiti art: lifting of borders as an overarching theme.

The motifs are numerous, like that of a fleeing man.

The world-famous Checkpoint Charlie booth, the Berlin Wall crossing point, transferred from its original stand in 1990 to the Allied Museum, which was inaugurated in 1998.

The Berlin Wall is an integral part of the public exhibition at the Topography of Terror history museum, located  on the site of the former Main Security Office of the Nazi Germany.

A watchtower, one of the last relics from the GDR era, can be found north of central train station. It is named in memory of Günter Litfin, who was the first victim to be killed by East German border troops. A memorial, established in 1992 on the initiative of his younger brother, is located in the watchtower.

This notorious painting, called “My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love”, was created in 1990. It depicts Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Honecker in a fraternal kiss, a mimicry of a photograph that captured the moment in 1979.

Division and unity, when put in a broader context. Another piece of graffiti art on the Berlin Wall.


Photos, text and copyright: Alexander Svetlov






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