On Berlin Wall anniversary, Merkel urges Europe to defend ‘democracy, freedom’
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On Berlin Wall anniversary, Merkel urges Europe to defend ‘democracy, freedom’

At ceremony to mark 1989 fall of the wall, German chancellor says values of human rights and tolerance ‘must be defended anew’ and cannot be taken for granted

  • People stuck flowers in remains of the Berlin Wall during a commemoration ceremony to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall at the Wall memorial site at Bernauer Strasse in Berlin, Nov. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
    People stuck flowers in remains of the Berlin Wall during a commemoration ceremony to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall at the Wall memorial site at Bernauer Strasse in Berlin, Nov. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
  • The Presidents of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Hungary Janos Ader, Poland Andrzej Duda, Slovakia Zuzana Caputova and of the Czech Republic Milos Zeman, from right, attend a commemoration ceremony to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall at the Wall memorial site at Bernauer Strasse in Berlin, Nov. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
    The Presidents of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Hungary Janos Ader, Poland Andrzej Duda, Slovakia Zuzana Caputova and of the Czech Republic Milos Zeman, from right, attend a commemoration ceremony to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall at the Wall memorial site at Bernauer Strasse in Berlin, Nov. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
  • Flowers stuck in remains of the Berlin Wall during a commemoration ceremony to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall at the Wall memorial side at Bernauer Strasse in Berlin, Nov. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
    Flowers stuck in remains of the Berlin Wall during a commemoration ceremony to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall at the Wall memorial side at Bernauer Strasse in Berlin, Nov. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel places a candle at the Berlin Wall Memorial during the central commemoration ceremony for the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, on November 9, 2019 (Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP)
    German Chancellor Angela Merkel places a candle at the Berlin Wall Memorial during the central commemoration ceremony for the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, on November 9, 2019 (Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP)
  • In this Nov. 13, 1989, file photo, East German border guards stand in front of segments of the Berlin Wall, which were removed to open the wall at Potsdamer Platz passage in Berlin (AP Photo/John Gaps III, File)
    In this Nov. 13, 1989, file photo, East German border guards stand in front of segments of the Berlin Wall, which were removed to open the wall at Potsdamer Platz passage in Berlin (AP Photo/John Gaps III, File)
  • Spectators holding roses attend the central commemoration ceremony for the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, on November 9, 2019 at the Berlin Wall Memorial at Bernauer Strasse in Berlin (Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP)
    Spectators holding roses attend the central commemoration ceremony for the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, on November 9, 2019 at the Berlin Wall Memorial at Bernauer Strasse in Berlin (Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP)
  • Young people stuck flowers in remains of the Berlin Wall during a commemoration ceremony to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall at the Wall memorial site at Bernauer Strasse in Berlin,  Nov. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
    Young people stuck flowers in remains of the Berlin Wall during a commemoration ceremony to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall at the Wall memorial site at Bernauer Strasse in Berlin, Nov. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
  • In this file photo taken on November 11, 1989, East German border guards stand on a section of the Berlin wall with the Brandenburg gate in the background in Berlin. (Gunther Kern/AFP)
    In this file photo taken on November 11, 1989, East German border guards stand on a section of the Berlin wall with the Brandenburg gate in the background in Berlin. (Gunther Kern/AFP)

BERLIN — Europe “must stand up for democracy and freedom, for human rights and tolerance,” Chancellor Angela Merkel said Saturday as Germany commemorated the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

Such values “must always be lived out and defended anew,” Merkel told political leaders and European guests at a ceremony, warning that these freedoms cannot be taken for granted.

Speaking in the Reconciliation Chapel on the former “death strip” that ran alongside the wall, the chancellor said that the barrier that divided communist East from democratic West was “history.”

Merkel herself grew up in East Germany and was a scientist working in Berlin on November 9, 1989.

Spectators holding roses attend the central commemoration ceremony for the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, on November 9, 2019 at the Berlin Wall Memorial at Bernauer Strasse in Berlin (Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP)

That communist authorities finally opened border crossings that day “teaches us that no wall that shuts people out and limits freedom is so tall or broad that it cannot be broken through,” Merkel said.

The chancellor and guests including the presidents of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia had earlier been invited to stick roses through holes in a section of wall still standing at the Bernauer Strasse memorial, just north of central Berlin.

People stuck flowers in remains of the Berlin Wall during a commemoration ceremony to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall at the Wall memorial site at Bernauer Strasse in Berlin, November 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

Groups of schoolchildren from around Europe, including war-torn Ukraine, also spoke in their native languages to the leaders about the emotions the anniversary wakens for them.

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