We've just got back from Berlin, where there's been one enormous party to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Thousands of giant white balloons lined the route of the wall through the centre of the city, and tens of thousands of people descended onto the streets to mingle and remember the bad old days. The culmination was an open-air concert at the Brandenburg Gate where the balloons were released into the sky, the Ode to Joy was sung, and Udo Lindenberg and his band played for an hour or so. Afterwards, everybody partied into the night as the whole area around the edge of the Tiergarten was turned into a night-club for a dj set by Paul Kalkbrenner.
I got the impression that the whole celebration was a conscious attempt by the Berliners to finally draw a line under the horrors and stupidity of the twentieth century, and to be defined by the possibilities of their future as opposed to the long shadows of their past. However, I couldn't help wondering what all those people who were apparatchiks (and spies) in the old East German regime must have thought about it all.
In their case, the past really is a different country.