Image: Dominoes stand in front of the Brandenburg Gate
Herbert Knosowski  /  AP
Dominoes stand in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on Saturday. Students made the around 1,000 dominoes placed on the former border.
updated 11/8/2009 7:11:41 AM ET 2009-11-08T12:11:41

Massive colorful dominoes painted by German students have been placed along the former path of the Berlin Wall to mark the 20th anniversary of the opening of the barrier that divided the city for nearly three decades.

Many of the upright 7.5-foot-high plastic foam dominoes carried messages, including "We are one people." The approximately 1,000 dominoes stretching for 1 mile will be toppled Monday as part of wider celebrations of the wall's fall.

One labeled "bleeding heart" showed a sword cutting through the city of Berlin, starting a crimson flow of blood speckled with crosses.

"Everyone has walls in their heads to a certain extent," Berlin resident Stefan Schueler as he perused the domino display Saturday. "It's always a good thing if one can break them down, and I think this is a good symbol."

Former Polish leader Lech Walesa, whose pro-democracy movement Solidarity played a key role in ending communism in Eastern Europe, is to tip the first domino Monday as the artistic display comes toppling down.

'Very big event'
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Russian President Dimitry Medvedev also are expected to be on hand Monday for the formal commemorations of the wall's opening on Nov. 9, 1989.

"The fall of the wall was a very big event, and I think most Berlin residents are thankful to those who made it happen," said Berlin resident Guenter Nowak standing beside one stretch of dominoes.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, herself a resident of East Germany when the wall fell, said in her weekly podcast Saturday that it was a day that "changed the lives of many people including me."

"It is particularly nice for us to be able to celebrate this day with our European neighbors," Merkel said. "We Germans will not forget our neighbors and allies who made the path to German reunification possible."

Researchers estimate that 136 people were killed while trying to cross the barrier during its 28-year existence.

On Saturday in a village outside Berlin, three new memorial stones were dedicated to victims of the wall.

One honored Horst Kullack, a 23-year-old who was shot by border guards on Dec. 31, 1971.

For his family, the memory is still fresh in their minds.

"He was gone, disappeared," said his father, Willi Kullack. "He did not come home. It was New Year's Eve."

He said the East German secret police came to his home the following day. He asked them where his son was.

"They said: He's not going to come anymore," Kullack recalled.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: World reflects on impact of Wall’s fall

  1. Closed captioning of: World reflects on impact of Wall’s fall

    >> healthcare provider

    >>> tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of the fall of the berlin wall . it divided a city for nearly three decades. a real barrier also representing a symbolic divide between east and west and freedom and depressi depression. tom brokaw reported live from the berlin wall . he is back to remember the momentous events he witnessed. i know when you were setting up for the broadcast that day, it was a time of rapid change but no one expected the events to unfold the way they did. what do you remember when you saw those crowds begin to surge?

    >> what i remember is that i hope that they're going to stay there because the east german police on the other side were hosing them off the wall and at one point they did clear the wall so i worried that after all of this buildup i would come on with no one behind me. then the young west german students climbed up on the wall. east german police could not drive them off and about two hours later we began to see this. people with hammers and chisels and pick axes chipping away at the wall and then in peter pan like passion catapulted there and an enormous cheer went up and the world at that moment was changed forever.

    >> you witnessed that change firsthand. how do germans today remember that event and the reunification that followed?

    >> you have to remember that there's a whole new generation of germans who have been born since then. those who were alive at the time, they still are trying to find their way in a new germany in the 21st century . many raised in the east are adjusting to harsh economic realities during the economic downturn . west germany decided to have a unified germany and that was a big economic burden. this country is in search of its identification and is looking more inward than outward. many people were concerned if you have a unified germany you would have the threat we faced in world war i and world war ii . it's been the opposite. not much of a militant attitude here about getting involved in military experiences even as allies of the united states and afghanistan. there are german troops in afghanistan but the west german government and the public opinion in this country is very ambivalent about sending german troops anywhere.

    >> on monday there will be the official ceremony marking the anniversary. will there be some of the key figures and leaders from that time present?

    >> the leaders of the present and past. mikhail gorbachev will be here. demit demitri will be here. hillary clinton will represent president obama here. president sarkozy of france and angela merkel of germany born and raised in east germany and now a central right politician. it will be an all-star lineup as they stake stock of where we've been and where we are now and even try to determine where we may be headed for here.

    >> tom a lot of us will never forget watching you that day and sharing that sense we were watching the world change. thank you very much. tom will have a

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