Polish President attends 30th anniversary of fall of Berlin Wall

Polish President Andrzej Duda came to Berlin, the capital of Germany, to attend the ceremonies of the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

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President Duda was welcomed by his German counterpart, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, at the courtyard of the Bellevue Castle. Among other honorary guests of the German head of the state are presidents of the countries of the Visegrad Group (V4): Zuzana Čaputová (the president of Slovakia), Miloš Zeman (the president of the Czech Republic) and János Áder (president of Hungary).

The main ceremonies took place at Bernauer Strasse, which for years was adjacent to the Berlin Wall. Mr Steinmeier and Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany, paid their respects to all those who tried to get to West Berlin by scaling the Wall.

After the main ceremonies, the presidents of Germany and the V4 countries laid roses at the monument commemorating the contribution of the Visegrad Group to defeating the communism.

“Berlin, Europe and the world had been divided to eastern and western parts and we, as a nation and a state found ourselves beyond the Iron Curtain, in the Soviet sphere of influence,” Polish president told journalists, adding that he came to Berlin to commemorate the fall of communism “here, where it collapsed symbolically.”

In the schedule of President Duda, there is also a visit in the former Nazi German concentration camp of Sachsenhausen, where a total of 183 Polish professors from Kraków, southern Poland, had been taken in November 1939.

The Berlin Wall which had divided Berlin for the Communist-ruled East and the capitalist West for nearly three decades became a potent symbol of the Cold War. It was completed in 1961. The wall was a system of barriers (the wall itself, wires, trenches, minefields) 156-km-long.

Over 28 years of its existence, there were numerous attempts to scale the wall in order to get to West Berlin. Many of them were unsuccessful and ended fatally for those who made the attempts; they were often shot by the guards. The exact number of victims remains unknown, estimates vary from 136 to 239 persons killed.

The tearing down of the wall on the night of November 9 and 10, 1989, was followed a year later by the reunification of Germany.