The Berlin Wall's fall 25 years ago is being celebrated in 2014 throughout the German capital, with events focusing on the East-West division of Germany and Berlin, the Cold War, and the peaceful revolution that led to reunification.
The wall dividing the communist-ruled East and the democratic West, stood from Sept. 1961 to early Nov. 1989, when cheering crowds tore it down piece by piece. By that time, more than 170 people had been killed in attempts to escape over the wall.
On the 25th anniversary, Nov. 9, 2014, a "new temporary Berlin Wall" will be made with thousands of illuminated white balloons floating above a 7.5-mile stretch of the former dividing line.
Called "25 Years Fall of the Berlin Wall", the display will run through the city center. On a clear day, it could be seen from space.
Here are many other places to commemorate the wall's fall, and gain insight into the former East German life:
Wall Museum, a.k.a. Checkpoint Charlie Museum (House at Checkpoint Charlie)
The museum at Berlin's infamous Checkpoint Charlie focuses on construction of the wall that formed an almost 100-mile, 12-foot high ring around Berlin, and had more than 300 watchtowers; the Cold War, including escapes from Soviet-dominated East Germany to the West; and the ongoing struggle for human rights and democracy.
This museum, open since 1962, was the site of the press conference by newly freed Russian former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky on Dec. 22, 2013. Two days after Russian President Vladimir Putin pardoned him, the former Yukos oil exec was flown to Berlin from prison, where he'd spent ten years.
The memorial, with a last remaining piece of the wall, is a mile-long strip of the former border. In 2014, it will open a permanent exhibition, "25 Years Fall of the Berlin Wall".
The longest remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall, decorated by 118 artists from 21 countries, claims to be the world's largest open-air gallery.
The East German watchtower on Potsdamer Platz dates back to 1966, and originally served as a base for border guards. The watchtower, Memorial Günter Litfin, is one of the few authentic sites left of the former bulwark.
The GDR Museum draws back the Iron Curtain on everyday life in the former East Berlin. Exhibits include a Trabant car -- "the car that gave Communism a bad name," said "Time" in its "50 Worst Cars of All Time", plus original Communist-era home furnishings. At the interactive museum, you can walk into -- and out of -- a prison cell and an interrogation room, vote in a rigged election, test your Russian language skills...
Museum at the Kulturbrauerei, a.k.a. Museum at the "Culture Brewery"
This is another museum focusing on everyday life in the GDR. In a 19th century former brewery, this newly opened permanent exhibit features 800 original objects including a Trabant, a newspaper stand, signs, documents, and films.
Located in house #1 of the former central complex of the Ministry of State Security (STASI), the museum showcases original offices, and other items that could've been plucked from "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy"...
The infamous STASI prison was East Germany's central holding pen for political prisoners. It was in a secret military area that was never shown on maps. A permanent exhibit, with about 500 items depicting experiences of former inmates, opened last autumn.
Another commemoration is for the centennial of World War One! Berlin's German Historical Museum will launch an exhibit "1914-1918 The First World War" on June 5. The museum's website says (in translation) it's important to differentiate "the First World War in Germany from World War II, the Nazi dictatorship, the genocide of the Jews and the division of Germany."
Happier anniversaries honored in Berlin, in addition to the wall's fall, include the 300th anniversary of the birth of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, the best-known among Johann Sebastian Bach's composer sons. The first of ten C.P.E. Bach celebrations in Berlin began Jan. 12.
C.P.E. Bach was in Berlin as harpsichordist with the court of Friedrich II (Frederick the Great) in 1741. There, C.P.E. Bach composed sonatas and concertos, and published his "Essay on the True Art of Playing Keyboard Instruments".
A school and a chamber music ensemble in Berlin are named after C.P.E. Bach, who composed about 250 keyboard works (sonatas, concertos, etc.), 19 symphonies, and many other works.
The birth of J.S. Bach's second eldest son, among 20 children, will be celebrated also in many other German cities, mainly Weimar.
The middle name Philipp came from his godfather, Georg Philipp Telemann, the most eminent German composer in the late 17th-early 18th century, with a reputation much greater than Johann Sebastian Bach's.
Joseph Haydn said, "Bach is the father, we are the children," when commenting on C.P.E. Bach, according to "The Bodley Head History of Western Music" by Christopher Headington.
These are a few of Germany's major anniversaries in 2014, happy or not.