Please note the changed opening hours of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin since 16 April 2024. More


Motion Detector No. 14: 30 Years Fall of the Wall – Advent tear-off ´89

Museum Europäischer Kulturen

In its Motion Detector (formerly: The Showcase of Contemporary Issues) the Museum Europäischer Kulturen displays objects from its collection that are relevant to current topics. The 14th Motion Detector presentationrecalls the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and that year’s exciting Christmas season. The opening of the Wall inspired a special Advent calendar that is now on display in the lobby of the MEK until 2 February 2020.

In 1989, two separate political and economic systems existed in Germany in opposition to each other – separated by a wall. In the East there was the GDR, in which a socialist society by means of a central planned economy should be built, while the Federal Republic in the West was based on a capitalist, social market economy. The absurdity of the GDR system became more and more apparent in 1989. Resistance formed, that demanded reforms and ultimately forced the opening of the wall.

Berlin was also divided as a city: the wall went through it and completely enclosed the Western part. Cut off from the Federal Republic, West Berlin attracted people who wanted to escape bourgeois limitations or military service. The opening of the Berlin Wall on the evening of 9 November 1989 was a celebrated event in both parts.

A souvenir of the hour

Three students from Wuppertal combined the joy of the demolition of the Berlin Wall with the anticipation for Christmas. Spontaneously, they developed the "Tear-Off Advent for Bär-lin '89", an Advent calendar that they sold at the end of November 1989 at the Brandenburg Gate and in West Berlin pubs and cafés. As a "souvenir of the hour" it sold 5,000 copies in no time and the soon-to-be designers were happy about an extra student income.

The calendar could be opened from the gray east or from the more colorful west side. Behind it, a view of the respective other side of the wall opened up. From the east one looked at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church and from the west at a street corner with post office and a GDR-typical car. Because no photo of East Berlin was at hand – according to the motto "nobody notices anyway" – a motive was chosen, which Thomas Hendrich had taken in 1988 in Dresden-Blasewitz.

If the doors were completely detached, a piece of the calendar wall was also torn off. In this way, the wall could be demolished here in just 24 days.