‘Spirit of optimism is gone’: Sombre mood as Germany marks 30 years of Berlin Wall fall

Leaders of former Cold War powers will be absent from anniversary festivities, as Donald Trump’s America First, Britain’s Brexit and Russia’s resurgence put a strain on ties.

Gone, too, is the euphoric optimism for liberal democracy and freedom that characterized the momentous event on November 9th, 1989, as Germany grapples with a surge in far-right support in its former communist states.

“The spirit of optimism” that we saw 30 years ago, or even five or 10 years ago, “is not perceivable” today, said Berlin’s culture senator Klaus Lederer, whose office took the lead in putting together the capital’s festivities for the week.

The mood is therefore “reflective, but we are celebrating”, he said. “We are looking back at history together, and we are also talking about the future.”

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