German Government Remembers David Bowie For Helping Take Down Berlin Wall

By Stephen Fuchs on Email @StephenWFuchs

David-Bowie_Chicago_2002-08-08_photoby_Adam-Bielawski

The tributes honoring and remembering music legend David Bowie have spread far throughout the day as the news of the singer’s death on Sunday went public this morning, and Germany’s own Foreign Office added to that mix as they thanked Bowie for his contribution in helping bring down the Berlin Wall almost three decades ago.

“Good-bye, David Bowie. You are now among #Heroes. Thank you for helping to bring down the #wall”, read the tweet that Germany’s Foreign Office sent out this morning.

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier released a more complete statement later in the day saying:

I was very saddened to learn of the death of David Bowie. The world has lost a uniquely talented and ground-breaking artist who made musical history for generations. The David Bowie exhibition was held at the Martin‑Gropius‑Bau in Berlin in 2014. I spoke there about the political dimension of David Bowie’s art. This dimension was exemplified by the years David Bowie spent in Berlin during the 1970s, when he recorded his song “Heroes” in the legendary Hansa Studios, a homage to Berlin at the height of the Cold War and a soundtrack of the divided city.

David Bowie had something that is also essential for diplomacy, that is, the curiosity to discover the world through the eyes of others; the willingness to free himself from obsolete clichés and prejudices; and the conviction that borders can be overcome – even if this is not immediately apparent, as was certainly the case in the divided city of Berlin during the 1970s. Although we have lost David Bowie, his music will live on and continue carrying this message to the world.

Bowie has had a longstanding connection to Germany as he moved to Berlin in the 1970s and recorded some of his classic hits in the German city, including the song “Heroes” that has many connections to the Wall in its lyrics. It was also a song the singer chose sing for his famous performance at the wall itself in 1987.

“I’ll never forget that. It was one of the most emotional performances I’ve ever done. I was in tears,” Bowie told Performing Songwriter during an interview in 2003. “They’d backed up the stage to the wall itself so that the wall was acting as our backdrop. We kind of heard that a few of the East Berliners might actually get the chance to hear the thing, but we didn’t realize in what numbers they would. And there were thousands on the other side that had come close to the wall. So it was like a double concert where the wall was the division. And we would hear them cheering and singing along from the other side.”

 

Sources: German Federal Foreign Office, Performing Songwriter
Photo: By Photobra|Adam Bielawski [CC BY-SA 3.0]

 

Stephen Fuchs
Stephen founded German Pulse and LGBT Germany out of a passion to introduce Americans to a Germany that goes beyond beer and polka (although with enough beer he has been known to polka it up a bit). He's a coffee addict, lover of wine and good times, a hit in the kitchen and editor of TV commercials. You can follow him on Twitter (@StephenWFuchs) to find out a lot more.
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