Leaders from Germany and its allies on Saturday commemorated the 30th anniversary of the opening of the Berlin Wall, which helped spur the fall of Communism in parts of Europe.
Officials from Germany, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic attended the ceremony at Bernauer Strasse — a site where part of the wall still stands — before they placed roses in the barrier’s gaps, The Associated Press reports.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier thanked other Eastern European neighboring nations who stood alongside them in calling for democracy when the wall, which divided the Communist-ruled East and capitalist West Germany for decades, toppled down, the AP reports.
“Together with our friends, we remember with deep gratitude the events 30 years ago,” Steinmeier said, according to Reuters. “Without the courage and the will to freedom of the Poles and Hungarians, the Czechs and Slovaks, the peaceful revolutions in Eastern Europe and Germany’s reunification would not have been possible.”
Axel Klausmeier, head of the wall memorial site, paid tribute to the protesters and neighboring countries.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said during a speech that “the values on which Europe is founded — freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law, respect for human rights — are anything but self-evident.”
“And they have to be filled with live and must be defended again and again,” she said.
In August 1989, Hungarian border guards allowed people to cross into neighboring Austria, and three months later, the Berlin Wall fell, becoming a symbol of the Cold War. A year later, Germany reunified.