Also in Berlin, Germany, women, men and children came together to show solidarity with the protesters in Washington DC. It was a gathering rather than a march, and with only a little over 500 participants attendance was relatively low compared to other sister marches taking place all around the world – but to use Shakespeares words: “And though she be but little, she is fierce.” And the message sent was loud and fierce: Together, we rose our voices and stood up not only for women’s rights, but for equality, diversity and justice for all humanity. Colorful signs and pink hats lightened up the grey winter day also in Berlin and sent a sign of hope, empowerment and support from the German capital.
The gathering place couldn’t have been more symbolic: We met in front of the Brandenburg Gate in the heart of the city, just outside the doors of the US embassy. The Berlin wall used to stand on the other side of the Gate, a stone’s throw away from where we met, dividing the city into east and west for more than 25 years. For many Germans, especially those Berliners who have experienced the harm and dismay caused by the Berlin wall, it is inconceivable that a man became the US president who wants to build a wall to divide one nation from the other. Thirty years ago almost to the day one of Donald Trump’s predecessors, Ronald Reagan, stood on the other side of the Brandenburg Gate from where we gathered yesterday and urged the then leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, to tear down the wall that divided Berlin. In his speech the then US president emphasized that it is the destruction of walls, not their construction, that “advance[s] dramatically the cause of freedom and peace” and leads to liberalization and prosperity. By citing Martin Luther King’s famous words, some of the protesters send the message in the other direction yesterday, demanding to “Build Bridges, Not Walls”. Powerful protests under the same heading took place all over the world over the past days. Let us hope that the message is heard and that a recurrence of harm similar to the one that was caused to the city of Berlin and the German people in the past century can be prevented.
Berliners have another story to tell when they think about the history of the US-German relationship: In 1963 John F. Kennedy underlined the United State’s support for West Germany by declaring that he was a Berliner, thereby encouraging West Berliners not to lose faith in the wake of the construction of the Berlin wall. Yesterday, the people in Berlin expressed their support for all those vulnerable and in fear because of Trump’s presidency. Aside from unquestioned support for justice and the rights and dignity of every human being, the Berlin people made clear that President Donald Trump, with his current demeanor, is not a Berliner.
Photo Credit: Robert Klages