Berlin Wall, thirty years after the Hertha-Union Berlin reunification derby
January 27, 1990, November 9, 2019: almost thirty years after the first Bundesliga derby, the football game expected by all Berliners is back. This time the stakes are the 3 points. Back then it was the party for freedom. & Nbsp;
Berlin waits. By now very little is missing at the celebrations for the thirtieth anniversary of the fall of the wall. November 9 is the date that all Berliners have put on the agenda. But there is another great event that they were looking forward to here: the derby between Hertha Berlin and FC Union Berlin. Old West Berlin (Hertha) against old East Berlin (Union), once divided by a physical and psychological wall that no longer exists today. It is the first derby in the history of the Bundesliga, the equivalent of our Serie A championship. A football game, in short, which in these parts, however, represents much more. (GOOGLE DOODLE DEDICATED TO THE FALL OF THE WALL)
Almost 30 years after that game with a more political than sporting flavor, the two teams from Berlin face off this time with quite different goals. There are three official points at stake. But you know, history always takes its own. Even the sports one. This derby, the first at such high levels, comes after the historic promotion of the ex-eleven from the East to the German top division, where Hertha Berlin has been playing with mixed fortunes for a few years. And it comes precisely in the year of the thirtieth anniversary from the end of the iron curtain. This is also why the sports managers of Hertha had planned to have the match played on 9 November, the day of the celebrations here in the city. However, the sports calendar has decided that the first derby of the season will be played at the home of the Union, one of the two former teams from East Berlin. Of the other, Dynamo Berlin, we will talk in a little while.
To witness this derby, where history and sport mix with suggestive reciprocity, we arrive in the middle of a forest, the Koepenick forest, the center of social gravity of East Berlin of the past. The air you breathe today has changed a little since then. The village born east of Berlin, however, still retains a certain aura of mystery and let's say it also of charm in the "ostalgie" style, as in German that particular feeling of nostalgia is defined for those years passed in history such as the years of East Germany. Around this & nbsp; forest there is the workers' quarter of the Union fans, where the profiles of the buildings are still the slightly gray and faded ones of the GDR years.
Going to the stadium in Koepenick represents a real mission for those who support Union, as confirmed by Christian Arbeit, the man who manages the club's relations with the press, but who for everyone here is the right arm of the legendary President Dirk Zingler. It is Christian who tells us the epic of this plant as small as it is legendary. & Nbsp; Official name: "An der Alten Forsterei", literally at the Old Foresteria. Here the eleven rooms are renamed the "Eisern", translated: the iron men. And that of the Eiserns is a very particular story. A story made of antagonism, romanticism and a lot of determination. The same determination put in by the Union fans when, in 2008, they decided to arm themselves with elbow grease and trowel to rebuild the facility in order to allow the club to join the championship. The same romance that all the fans put in 2004, when they decided to donate their blood to help society in clear economic difficulties. The same antagonism put in the stands by the fans in the derby of the 70s and 80s against Dynamo Berlin, the team that always won thanks to Stasi. In those years, football Berlin was dominated by Dynamo, the team of power of the socialist hierarchies. And shouting chants against the regime and the Stasi was the rule for Union supporters, often and willingly alongside the Western cousins of Hertha Berlin.
The historical spark of the Stasi pushes us to leave Koepenick for a moment, to go to Ruschestrasse, in the Lichtenberg district. Here, where the headquarters of the infamous secret police headquarters under Erich Milke once stood, there is now a museum to commemorate the obsessive vice of controlling "the lives of others" by state officials of the German Democratic Republic . A vice that also entered the world of football. Stasi controlled Dynamo Berlin and Dynamo Berlin, limited itself to systematically winning all the championships, fueling many suspects. Now that East Germany no longer exists, Dynamo Berlin still exists, but it is now treading the fields of the lower leagues. We leave Lichtenberg and go back to Koepenick, the derby between Union and Hertha is about to begin.
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