German Authorities Reject Film Art Project Plan to Rebuild Berlin Wall

Filer of the Berlin Wall on the eastern side from 09/12/04 (AFP Photo/JOHN MACDOUGALL)

German authorities said Friday they were blocking a plan to rebuild part of the Berlin Wall for a massive film-art project in the German capital.

Citing security concerns and fire risks, Berlin city authorities said they would not grant a building permit to the “DAU” project by Russian filmmaker Ilya Khrzhanovsky, national news agency DPA reported.

The plan had been to erect 900 concrete wall slabs, each 3.60 metres (about 12 feet) tall at a city block on Unter den Linden boulevard, for the 6.6 million euro ($7.7 million) event.

The walled-in “city within a city” was meant to have its own visa checks, and visitors to the parallel world would have had to apply online for entrance permits.

But the project sparked controversy, with critics labelling it a stunt hurtful to people who lived in communist East Germany.

Sabine Weissler, the councillor in charge of the Berlin district concerned, said there had not been sufficient time to obtain views from residents who could be affected by the project.

“It has not been possible for the organisation to guarantee that the event would be carried out safely,” she added. Building applications for such a major undertaking should be filed a year before construction is due to begin, she noted.

The organisers had only put in their application at the beginning of August for a project to be launched on October 12 before ending with a ritualistic tearing down of the wall on November 9, the day of the historic event in 1989.