The Berlin Wall Project
Art dealing with the Fall of the Berlin Wall Photography , Paintings Collage , Hand printed Silk screen, Installation, and a short movie titled Wall Walk
by Thomas Dellert 2012
I have since childhood always been fascinated by history specially the history of the 20th century. So to have the golden opportunity to be present when a historical event takes place has always been my dream. I saw the Beatles perform live, the landing on the moon, and the killing of JFK directly on TV etc. So when I had a chance to physically be present when the Berlin Wall fell, I took it.
I had like all of my generation grown up with the notion that the Berlin Wall was a result of the Second World War, the occupation of Germany and piding of Berlin into four sectors, Russian, American, French and British. Naturally anyone could feel and see the difference between the Russian Communistic belief in controlling its people by letting them live in ignorance and poverty, and the total contrast of the western world capitalistic system, with all its bad sides of the cruel laws of the jungle.
Two worlds, to goals, two sides of a wall.
I was absolutely a child of the Cold War, and the Wall was the symbol that the war was not over yet. It was erected the 13 of August 1962 and stood there for 27 years piding a nation and its people. As many as 136 people died trying to get over, through or under the wall to be united with their families and friends and to reach freedom. It was by the wall that President Kennedy said the historical words “Ich bin ein Berliner“ and Regan said “Mr Gorbachov tear down this wall“. The Mayor Willy Brandt called it the Wall of Shame and the East German government called it The Anti-Fascist defense wall "antifaschistischer Schutzwall". All depending on what side of the wall you were standing. Never the less the wall was inhuman in all its height and length. With all its barbed wire, search lights and armed guards killing anyone who dared to come too close. It was unrealistic and still it was total reality for those who live through it.
So at some point the Wall had to Fall.
Now at the same time that the East German DDR government celebrated its 40years of Communism in Germany the events started to unfold. Someone had spread the rumor that one could cross the wall and people started to gather along the wall in such numbers that it became unstoppable. The power of the people who crouched the Republic of the People. Soon the East German government realized what was happening and called in the army to stop it, but it was too late. Even the army had after 40 years got tired of the system that did not make anyone really happy if you were not working for the Stasi that is ( the East Germen version of Gestapo., the secret police. Remember DDR was a Police state. So lucky no blood was shed any more. It was like in the Prague “Velvet Revolution “. A sign of the turning of the tide.
I heard the news that night on TV in Sweden and said to myself “You have to get down to Berlin right away to be a part of history. This is totally unique and will not happen again. So I bought a ticket and went. To come to Berlin in those days was not so easy.“
It was isolated and one had to fly in as the only way of entering Berlin, like during the blockade and the air lift. Once in Berlin one could feel the buzz and the hype. The city was boiling and I went directly to the wall itself. Thousands of Berliners was out and , people from the east had started to get through Check Point Charley’
So gates. I did the opposite; I went to the East side to spend the day. There it was dark, and empty on the streets, and the long lines of Trabant’s (the official DDR mini car ) was lining the streets. This funny and ugly little car that was a Communistic version of The Mini Cooper and the Kdf Volkswagen once designed by Hitler and Porsche as a joint project. Her in East Berlin there was only this car, nothing else really. It all looked surrealistic in a way. So uniformed, so totalitarian. I took many pictures in the gloom that day, during my one and only visit to the Cold East and I remember there was absolutely nothing to buy in the stores. All the shop windows were empty. It was a country in total bankruptcy. Like night and day to walk along Karl Marx Allee with its monumental architecture, then to walk along Kurfürstendamm with all its lights and stores full of all that life can offer. The next days I walked along the wall video filming for hours, all the graffiti and all the people hammering on the wall.
I started to hammer on the wall to, and writing with my spray cans things like “Look here Paradise“ with arrows pointing to the holes in the wall where you could see the East sides gloominess, empty houses and empty promises. I also wrote “This is a document of Pain“ and “Tear down all walls“ I then signed the wall with my spray can.
I felt as if I was a part of history in its writing, I was.
I looked through the cracks in the wall and was confronted with the eyes of a lost DDR soldier in his Fur hat with the communistic emblem. He had his machinegun ready but when he saw me smiling and with the camera shooting at him he was calm, and kind of scared of the attention he was not used to. I then asking him if he could reach for a piece of the East side of the wall without any graffiti on and give it to me. He actually did and that kind of chocked me. I even asked him to sign the stone piece and even that he did.
I guess he was happy the nightmare he had lived in and grown up under was over. He would soon also be a free man. That night the Berliners wrote history and I was there to document all of it with my two cameras. No digital in those days. I even got my hands on a historical sign that read in Russian English and French and German “Grenzgebiet“ etc. This was one of the signs I had seen in my history school book. I still today have it in my home as a reminder of that I was a part of a historical moment in time.
The Fall of the Berlin Wall.
And then… Well I came home and got out of the taxi and left my camera on the street with all my material. Someone took it. I went on the radio and said I would pay to get my material back. I did. Then made an exhibit with all the photos, video and new big paintings in collaboration with artist Baltazar Silveira. We opened at the Swedish World Trade Center 1990. No one came to see the exhibit. There was no interest in those days in Sweden for what was happening in Germany etc.
I put all the art away for 25 years.
Now all my Berlin Wall Art have been exhibited in both Check Point Charley and in the Provocation Art Gallery alongside with the the movie I made in 89/90 titled WALLWALK
End of journey.