East and West Germans Mark Anniversary of Berlin Wall

From Associated Press

At a cross ringed with barbed wire, Germans from East and West paid solemn tribute today to the victims of the Berlin Wall on the 29th anniversary of its construction.

Eighty East Germans died trying to escape across the now-crumbling barrier that began separating the city on Aug. 13, 1961.

The best-known of them is Peter Fechter, an 18-year-old East Berlin worker cut down by Communist border guards' bullets in 1962. Fechter lay bleeding to death for nearly an hour before he was hauled away.

"Here where Peter Fechter died, we can feel how much suffering the wall caused," East Berlin Mayor Tino Schwierzina said during the ceremony this morning.

Schwierzina stood beside the cross erected as a memorial to Fechter in West Berlin. It is near where Fechter lay dying and calling out, "Help me."

A weathered photograph of the young man lying in agony on Aug. 17, 1962, is tacked to the dark wood.

About 300 people, most of them Germans, gathered for the brief service under a brilliant sun. More than a dozen large flower arrangements were placed before the cross.

Although the wall has disappeared there, windows in buildings on the eastern side still have the bars that kept people from jumping to freedom.

In years past, the Communist East Germans marked the wall's anniversary with bombastic military parades that drew criticism from the Western Allies.

With the wall vanishing and Germans rushing to unification, today's service was the first joint memorial officially linking both sides.

West Berlin officials promised that part of the Berlin Wall will be kept intact.

"The wall cannot disappear completely," said city councilor Erich Paetzold. He said a remainder will be preserved "so that we don't forget."

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