Merkel marks anniversary of Berlin Wall

Merkel calls on Europe to ‘defend democracy' as Germany marks fall of Berlin Wall

Go, Trabi, go: Germans re-enact fall of Berlin Wall with car parade

"Liberal democracy is being challenged and questioned", Mr Steinmeier said, calling on Germany and its European allies to keep fighting for a peaceful and united Europe.

Berlin's historic Brandenburg Gate has been the setting for an art installation featuring around 30,000 ribbons with people's wishes, hopes and memories, suspended in the air to make up a 150-metre long "freedom cloud.' Under its musical director Daniel Barenboim, the Staatskapelle Orchestra is to perform Beethoven's fifth symphony - also known as the 'Schicksals-Sinfonie, ' or 'destiny symphony" - at the Brandenburg Gate as part of a concert to be launched by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

The toppling of the wall, which separated the Communist-ruled East from the capitalist West in Berlin for almost three decades and became a potent symbol of the Cold War, was followed a year later by the reunification of Germany in 1990. Articles appear on euronews.com for a limited time.

Speaking to European leaders at Bernauer Strasse, head of the Berlin Wall memorial site, Axel Klausmeier, recalled the images of delirious Berliners from East and West crying tears of joy as they hugged each other on the evening of November 9, 1989.

"The values upon which Europe is founded. they are anything but self-evident. And they must always be lived out and defended anew", she told guests from across the continent.

"The Berlin Wall, ladies and gentlemen, is history", German Chancellor Angela Merkel said later at a memorial service inside a small chapel near where the Wall once stood.

On November 9, 1989, East German border guards, overwhelmed by large crowds, threw open the gates to West Berlin, allowing free passage for the first time since the Berlin Wall was built.

The collapse of the Berlin Wall was brought about largely by peaceful protests and a stream of people fleeing East Germany that piled pressure on the country's communist government to open its borders to the West and ultimately end the nation's post-war division.

But the optimism for liberal democracy has waned in the last years.

Cracks have appeared within the European Union as former eastern bloc countries like Hungary or Poland are accused by Brussels of challenging the rule of law.

'For 35 years, I experienced the official opinion as different from my own, ' Merkel said, referring to the former communist east.

Two days before the date that brought epochal change, France's President Emmanuel Macron dropped a bombshell, declaring that transatlantic partnership North Atlantic Treaty Organisation was suffering from "brain death" and that Europe itself was "on the brink".

The bad tempered prelude to the festivities stood in sharp contrast to celebrations five years ago, when former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and ex-Polish president and freedom icon Lech Walesa were present.

During a speech on Friday, he warned that "freedom is never guaranteed".

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