Berlin wall removal project stalls amid protests

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 1, 2013 at 8:13 am •  Published: March 1, 2013

BERLIN (AP) — Hundreds of angry protesters on Friday prevented construction workers from removing a section of one of the few remaining stretches of the Berlin Wall, part of a plan to build a road to a new luxury condominium being built on the banks of the reunited city's Spree river.

Crews only managed to remove one section from the famous East Side Gallery before about 300 protesters pressed too close for work to continue. Demonstrators then wheeled in a mock wall section they had set up in front of the gap.

The East Side Gallery is the longest remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall and is one of the German capital's most popular tourist attractions, with Nicolas Cage recently mugging for snapshots with his wife Alice Kim during time off from the Berlin film festival. It was recently restored at a cost of more than €2 million ($3 million) to the city.

The wall section stood on the eastern side of the elaborate border strip built by communist East Germany and, when the border was closed, carried none of the graffiti that covered the western side of the wall.

On Friday, a protester carried a sign asking "does culture no longer have any value?" in bold letters, with "die yuppie scum" written in smaller letters.

"With our art we documented the peaceful revolution — it is a document that needs to be saved for the next generations," said artist Kani Alavi, whose mural of hundreds of people streaming through an open wall is not affected by the construction. "If we destroy it now, we have nothing left to illustrate our past — we have to fight for keeping this historic document."

The respite is likely only temporary, however, despite calls to halt the construction permanently.

Local city district chairman Franz Schulz told Bild newspaper that historical preservation authorities had given a construction firm all the permission needed to dismantle the 22-meter (yard) section of the 1.3 kilometer (3/4 mile) stretch of the wall for the Living Levels condominium project.