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Frank Bernhardt of the Old Lutheran Church leads the discussion.
The participants at the end of the gathering.

Commemoration of the Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the Role of the Churches

On November 9, 2023, about ten members and guests gathered in the Düsseldorf UPF center to discuss the upheavals of 1989 and the development of churches in East and West Germany after the end of World War II.
The discussion was led by Frank Bernhardt from the Old Lutheran Church who shared captivating impressions from the time of the fall of the Wall.

The event began with moving film footage showing the fall of the Wall and the warm embraces between people from East and West Germany. These scenes from 34 years ago, touched us deeply. Mr. Bernhardt spoke about the churches in East and West Germany, which maintained a dialogue and promoted cooperation despite the rejection of the East German government. The churches played a decisive role as places for the free exchange of opinions and provided space for opposition activities in the East. They provided protection and help for politically persecuted people and refugees. The Monday demonstrations, which called for political reforms, freedom of expression and democratic change, received support from the churches, contributing to the fall of the Wall on November 9, 1989.

Mr. Bernhardt ’s presentation and interesting anecdotes were well received and stimulated several questions. Very impressive too were the reports of two participants, Else Noguchi and Charles Walter, who took part in a large demonstration in 1987 in West Berlin for the dismantling of the Wall, which was led by Hyo-Jin Moon, a son of the UPF founding couple. Despite severe hostility from various groups and organizations as well as the churches in the West, the demonstrators held on with prayer and dedication to the conviction that the people of East and West Germany would come together. Two years later, the almost unbelievable happened - the Wall came down.

The meeting ended with a minute's silence to commemorate the Reichspogromnacht on November 9-10, 1938, when synagogues were set on fire and Jewish businesses and homes were looted and destroyed. We commemorated these painful events and closed the meeting with the song "We Shall Overcome". Our message was clear: such atrocities must never happen again.

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