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31 Oct, 2009 16:56

Gorbachev, Kohl and Bush Sr. gather to celebrate Berlin Wall collapse

Three statesmen who oversaw the fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago reunited in Germany to mark the anniversary.

Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, the last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and the then US President George Bush Sr. were honored at a ceremony held in Berlin on Saturday.

"They all experienced the Second World War and its disastrous consequences, but the war did not indurate or paralyze them,” German President Horst Koehler was quoted as saying by the AP news agency. “Instead it sharpened their senses for the challenge to protect peace and to strive for freedom and justice."

Current Germany chancellor Angela Merkel also attended the ceremony.

The event ended with the German national anthem, a rare expression of nationalism in the country. The celebration is a part of jubilee festivities in the German capital, which will see its culmination on November 9, when the main event will be held in front of the Brandenburg Gate.

On that day, Merkel, Gorbachev and former Polish President Lech Walesa will visit a former border checkpoint in the Berlin-Pankov district. In 1989, Merkel was among the first to cross the border into West Berlin.

On November 9, 1989, East Berliners poured through the Berlin Wall checkpoints after weeks of street protests fuelled by Gorbachev's refusal to back East Germany's ruling communists.

The fall of the Berlin Wall heralded the collapse of communism in Europe and put an end to 40 years of a divided Germany.