Welcome to the 90s! Nineties Berlin gives you a taste of life in Berlin during this very special time. What were the predominant themes of this era? What was so special about Berlin and why are creatives and visionaries from all over the world still drawn to this city even today?

dictatorship – Wall – Freedom

Photo:
 picture alliance / Associated Press

The triumph of the Peaceful Revolution over the Socialist unity party dictatorship was a joyful event that was discussed all over the world on the day the Berlin Wall came down. On November 9, 1989, tens of thousands celebrated the fall of the Berlin Wall, whose builders were responsible for the separation of families and 140 deaths at the Wall. At least 327 people in total died at the inner-German border. The symbol for all these deaths had now been conquered by people from East and West: they climbed by the hundreds onto the Wall, scaled the 26-meter-high Brandenburg Gate up to the quadriga on New Year’s Eve 1989/1990 and, in the months that followed, tore down the Berlin Wall in the heart of the city. The “wall peckers” broke up what was left of the once untouchable symbol of the division of Germany and gave people the right to acquire their own souvenir of this unique event, unlike anything else in the world.

Kai-Uwe Kohlschmidt
As it was, the people in the West also experienced a turnaround. Their country was also going to change dramatically.
Kai-Uwe Kohlschmidt, back then punk rocker, born in East Germany

Techno – Love Parade – Underground

Photo: akg-images / AP

After the Berlin Wall came down on November 9, 1989, new spaces emerged in the previously divided city where people from the East, West, and the entire world could pursue their visions. Berlin became an incomparable adventure playground for ideas. Musicians, artists and creatives occupied houses or opened cafés, clubs and galleries. As early as summer 1989, techno fans were dancing in the streets at the LoveParade as incredulous passers-by looked on. Four years later, the crowd of 150 people had grown to more than 100,000, and by the mid-90s over a million techno aficionados were making the pilgrimage to Tiergarten in Berlin. The Love Parade had become a mass phenomenon, as techno united people from East and West and the LoveParade became a symbol of freedom in Berlin. In less than five years, the divided city of Berlin, once a showcase for the Cold War, had become a cosmopolitan city with hordes of people dancing in the streets to techno.

Anarchy – Transition – Visions

Photo: akg-images / Hansgeorg Schöner

The demise of East Germany brought freedom and uncertainty at the same time. While some politicians planned a democratic East Germany, others wanted a reunification of the two German states. People took advantage of the new freedom but also watched as the old system disappeared, capitalism swept in and economic upheaval changed everyday life. But these free zones were not just theoretical. In East Berlin, squatters occupied houses, and old and familiar structures were discarded. Buildings in Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg, which had fallen into disrepair during the East German era, now grew independently of any legal structures into places of anarchy, creativity and youth culture. This exciting and liberal era went down in history and formed the roots of myth of ‘Berlin’. But the new freedoms and diverse changes also led to radicalism. The violence and brutality of hooligans and far-right extremists spread after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Nineties Berlin provides a forum for contemporary witnesses to share their personal memories of this period.

Sven Friedrich
It was basically a zone without any laws. Yeah, it was almost like anarchy.
Sven Friedrich, store owner and former hooligan

art – Upheaval – Subculture

Photo: Stefan Schilling

November 9, 1989 had shown how the unthinkable became possible. Change and the transformation of values was now part of everyday life in the previously divided city of Berlin. Vacant and free zones drew in life and ideas. Funding, authorizations and conventions only played a small part in the implementation of ideas. People had the opportunity to experiment without financial pressure. Artists opened galleries in courtyards, squatters moved into empty buildings in East Berlin, clubs were launched in old and forgotten industrial wastelands. "Tresor", the "Bunker", the "Tekknozid parties" and the "Kunsthaus Tacheles" were examples of an underground culture that is now famous throughout the world. Yet, only a few of these places and events that emerged in the 90s have outlasted this era of fast-paced change. Nineties Berlin tells the story of some of the most fascinating ones.

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