World leaders gather as dominoes fall
Massive colourful dominoes 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 7.5ft-high plastic foam dominoes, created by German students carried messages including “we are one people”.
Approximately 1,000 dominoes, stretching for one mile, will be toppled today as part of wider celebrations of the wall's fall.
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 on Monday to start the toppling of the display.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown is expected to join US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Russian leader Dimitri Medvedev for the formal commemoration of the wall's opening on November 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.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, herself a resident of East Germany when the wall fell, said in her weekly podcast that it was a day that “changed the lives of many people, including me”.
She added: “It is particularly nice for us to be able to celebrate this day with our European neighbours. We Germans will not forget our neighbours 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.