A property developer removed more of the Berlin Wall Wednesday, police said, in a surprise dawn move amid a bitter running protest over the dismantling of the once-detested Cold War division.
Four segments were removed from around 5:00 am local time (0400 GMT) from the Wall’s longest surviving stretch, creating a gap around five metres (16 feet) wide where a gate was installed, a police spokeswoman said.
Some 250 police were at the site, according to media reports.
Opponents have rallied, at times in their thousands, along the 1.3-kilometre (nearly one mile) stretch of Wall, known as the East Side Gallery, since the beginning of March when a first panel was taken away.
Its removal was temporarily halted shortly afterwards.
US singer and actor David Hasselhoff, who gave a legendary New Year’s Eve performance of his song “Looking for Freedom” at the Wall after its fall in 1989, has even joined protesters.
Since 1990, the outdoor gallery has been covered in brightly coloured graffiti murals, including the famous “Fraternal Kiss” depicting Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and East Germany’s Erich Honecker locked in an embrace.
The 3.6-metre high stretch is a tourist magnet and a must-see for history buffs retracing the dark chapter of Berlin’s 28-year-long division who are otherwise hard pressed to find remnants of the Wall to photograph.
Developers have said that plans to provide access to a 63-metre high residential development along the banks of the Spree river as well as access to a planned bridge had required a 22-metre segment of the Wall to be dismantled.
A meeting between the property company and city authorities on Tuesday about possible alternative sites for the project proved fruitless.
Thrown up in 1961, the Wall stretched 155 kilometres (96 miles) and divided Berlin until 1989, but today only around three kilometres of it still stand.