Drums, Saxophones And Fireworks At Berlin Wall With PM-World New Year, Bjt
WEST BERLIN (AP) _ A cacophony of drums, saxophones and firecrackers pierced the air early today and fireworks illuminated the Berlin Wall as tens of thousands of people from East and West celebrated New Year’s together.
Tens of thousands poured in both directions through the newly opened Brandenburg Gate each hour, and thousands more scaled the wall and tumbled into the other Germany as border guards watched with amusement.
In a revival of the city-wide street party that erupted when the Berlin Wall opened Nov. 9, young people scrambled atop the divide to take in the scene on both sides, bobbing and rocking to the erratic rhythm of the concert without conductor at Brandenburg Gate.
Hammers clanged against chisels as hundreds mined the wall for souvenirs.
After midnight, some scaffolding supporting an outdoor projection screen near Brandenburg Gate collapsed under the weight of revelers, killing a man and injuring 135 people, East Germany’s official ADN news agency reported. Seventy-seven of them were hospitalized, it said.
ADN said drunks and a carpet of broken glass from champagne bottles hindered rescue workers.
In other border areas, police police arrested 68 neo-Nazi activists overnight after they tried to stage illegal demonstrations. Authorities in both German states had formed joint patrols to prevent disturbances threatened by right-wing radicals.
A West Berlin counter-culture group had appealed to Berliners on both sides of the crumbling divide to bring musical instruments and inspiration to the battle-scarred gate, for a concert to fete the first New Year’s in four decades that Germans have celebrated together.
″We just wanted to be here for it. It’s fantastic,″ said 21-year-old Kerry Bundgaard of Phoenix as her father videotaped the scene.
″The wall is open for the first time in my life. We want to celebrate along with everyone else,″ said Hans-Juergen Witfeld, who traveled from the Ruhr Valley city of Dortmund with eight friends to spend the holiday in cold and misty Berlin.
At midnight, fireworks filled the midnight sky over Brandenburg Gate. The soot-stained monument was swathed in smoke as young people from around the world clamored atop the surrounding wall and scaled even the tarnished bronze chariot that crowns the columned gate.
Since East German authorities began punching holes in the graffiti- splattered concrete that had severed Berlin since 1961, the wall has become more a bridge than a barrier.
Tour buses from throughout Europe shuttled thousands to the heart of the party, a stretch of pock-marked wall between the Brandenburg Gate in East Berlin and a towering Christmas tree on the west side.
Tourists filled every hotel and restaurant to capacity on both sides of the wall and jammed streets and parking lots with impromptu parties.
Enterprising youth like 15-year-old Salim Mussa hawked chips of the wall for up to $30, West Berliners rented out hammers and chisels, and the West German government operated a mobile information booth for any East German visitors considering relocation in the West.
Border police said they had no estimate of the numbers crossing between the two Germanys.