On Berlin Wall Anniversary, Trump Calls Germany "Treasured" Ally

Life in Communist East Germany was 'almost comfortable' at times Merkel says

Life in Communist East Germany was 'almost comfortable' at times Merkel says

It was the moment that signalled the simultaneous end of the Cold War and the beginning of reunification of East and West Germany.

Ms Merkel, who grew up in East Germany, greeted members of the public as she arrived at Bernauer Strasse where she and fellow leaders from Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic placed roses at a section of the Wall left standing.

The Berlin Wall reminds "us that we have to do our part for freedom and democracy", said Merkel.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier urged the United States to be a "mutually respectful partner" and reject nationalism, in a clear salvo aimed at U.S. leader Donald Trump as Germany on Saturday marked 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

During the 1989 revolutions, several Soviet-imposed communist regimes in Eastern Europe were toppled as people demanded independence or greater freedoms.

The message notes that ordinary people in East Germany risked their lives for freedom, "and in doing so they were the catalyst that lifted the Iron Curtain that had, a generation before, fallen across Europe".

Steinmeier said, however, that the historic event did not mark the "end of history" as US historian Francis Fukuyama stated. "In Europe too, in your countries and also between the European societies there is a more intensive and fiercer struggle not only on the future of Europe but also on the interpretation of the past".

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However, he added that "liberal democracy is being challenged and questioned", while foreign minister Heiko Maas said: "Power is shifting away from Europe, authoritarian models are on the rise, the United States is increasingly looking inwards".

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.

Mr Klausmeier paid tribute to the peaceful protesters in East Germany and neighbouring Warsaw Pact countries who took to the streets demanding freedom and democracy, and to then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's policy of reforms.

"Power is shifting away from Europe, authoritarian models are on the rise, the United States is increasingly looking inwards and worldwide law is losing ground", he said.

Thirty years on, Germany has become the most powerful economic and political force on the continent, but there remain deep misgivings among some in the country about how the transition from socialism to capitalism was managed.

Saturday was also the anniversary of the Kristallnacht - the night of broken glass - when thousands of Jewish homes, synagogues and businesses were attacked in Nazi Germany and Austria in 1938.

Saturday's anniversary festivities in Berlin were due to culminate with a party at the Brandenburg Gate in the evening featuring the Staatskapelle Berlin orchestra directed by Daniel Barenboim and electronic music with WestBam.

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