Symbolic Toppling A Berlin Wall Made of Giant Dominos

On the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, over 1,000 giant dominos will be erected along a section of the strip that once divided East and West Germany. The dominos will then be toppled to commemorate the end of the Cold War.

This November, two kilometers worth of gigantic dominos will be erected between Berlin's Brandenburg Gate and Potsdamer Platz along a portion of the strip that once separated East and West Berlin. In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the dominos will be set tumbling and the barrier will collapse in roughly half an hour's time.

"We want to knock over the Wall once again," Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit said at an opening ceremony for the project last week.

The 43-kilometer Berlin Wall -- the most famous symbol of the Cold War and of divided Germany -- fell on Nov. 9, 1989, after having stood for nearly three decades. The domino project, which is headed by the Berlin group Kulturprojekte, hopes to inspire reflection on that day by toppling 1,000 eight-foot tall Styrofoam slabs.

Each of the dominos will be individually decorated, most by young Berlin residents. Part of the project's aim is "to encourage young people to reflect on what the fall of the Wall meant," Wowereit said.

Roughly 20 of the dominos will also be sent abroad to be decorated in other parts of the world where aggressive divisions and separating walls have left an impact. "It's important that we not only bring Germany to the world but that we also bring the world to Germany," Michael Jeismann of the Berlin office of Germany's federal cultural foundation Goethe Institut, which developed the foreign component of the domino project, told SPIEGEL ONLINE.

Officials with several countries and regions say they are interested in participating, including Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Cyprus, Yemen, South Korea, China as well as India, where one village has erected a wall to separate Muslims and Hindus. Despite 580-mile-long fences separating the countries, though, Jeismann said that neither the United States nor Mexico had expressed much interest.

The international dominos -- or "Goethe stones" -- are to be shipped abroad in May and decorated by young people, as well as artists and intellectuals who will address the topic of walls in their countries. In Korea, for example, the author of a book about divided Korea will write the first sentences of his work on one domino.

In October, the Goethe stones will be returned to Germany and set up to be knocked down along with the other dominos.

Eventually, the Goethe Stones and a selection of those decorated in Germany will be put on display in Goethe Institutes in Berlin, Bonn and Leipzig. If funding allows they will also be exhibited internationally.

All of the domino designs are to be included in a book.

cew -- with wires
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