Merkel hails eastern courage at Wall anniversary
Chancellor Angela Merkel hailed the courage of easterners who helped bring down the Berlin Wall as the city celebrated the 20th anniversary of the events that marked the end of the Cold War and the beginning of a reunited Germany, Reuters reported.
The first chancellor to have grown up in communist east Germany, Merkel is hosting dozens of world leaders, past and present, to remember the fall of the Wall.
"The night of November 9, 1989, was the fulfillment of a dream," Merkel said. "Many played a role. But it would not have been possible without the courage of the people in the former East Germany."
Merkel took a walk with former Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev and former Polish leader Lech Walesa across the bridge at Bornholmer Strasse where East Berliners first breached the border two decades ago in an emotional rush to freedom.
Later Monday, 1,000 brightly colored dominoes set up along a 1.5 km (0.9 mile) stretch where the Wall once stood will be toppled as world leaders watch from the Brandenburg Gate, once a symbol of division and now the signature image of a reunited Germany.
Images of the historic night when easterners trapped behind the 3.6-meter (12-foot) high concrete barrier crowded into checkpoints have dominated German television and newspaper coverage for the past week.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton -- representing the World War Two allies -- are all in town to give speeches.
In pre-released excerpts of his Monday evening remarks, Brown hailed the "unbreakable spirit" of men and women who dared to "dream in the darkness."
Sarkozy put a picture of himself on social networking site Facebook that he said showed him hammering away at the Wall on the fateful night.
"It was a night full of enthusiasm: the German people reuniting marked the end of the Cold War and the start of a period of great freedom in Europe," he wrote.