It was 25 years ago today that the Berlin Wall was brought down. Built in 1961 to stop East Germans from fleeing to the non-Soviet-controlled West, it was a monument of oppression and an icon of the Cold War.
"We can change things for the better," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said today at a celebration of the anniversary in Berlin. "This is the message for...Ukraine, Iraq, and other places where human rights are threatened."
So, how, you may ask, does David Hasselhoff fit into all this?
The Baywatch star and singer played a pivotal role in the historic event — or so he would like to think. On New Year's Eve in 1989, not too long after the wall came down, Hasselhoff performed his hit "Looking for Freedom" atop the ruins, uniting Germans in song.
Hasselhoff enjoyed a strong following in Austria and Switzerland at the time. He decided to cover the 1970s German pop song "Auf der Strasse nach Süden" as "Looking for Freedom," which gained popularity in the months leading up to the fall of the wall. Perhaps, because of this, Hasselhoff's New Year's Eve performance was reportedly approved by none other than conservative then-Chancellor Helmut Kohl.
"I find it a bit sad that there is no photo of me hanging on the walls in the Berlin museum at Checkpoint Charlie," Hasselhoff griped in 2004. Indeed, history has largely forgotten the Hoff's contribution to international diplomacy. Maybe, that time he dressed up as Hitler has overshadowed his previous legacy in Germany.
Hasselhoff won't let the memory fade, though. “I knew that night that I sang, other than the birth of my children, would be the highlight of my life," he told CNN last week. "I just happened to be in the right place, at the right time, with the right song."
While Hasselhoff won't be performing in Berlin for the anniversary, approximately 7,000 white balloons, mounted to poles the same height as the original wall, will be released tonight to symbolize the wall's fall.
"The fall of the wall showed us that dreams can come true," Merkel said in her statement today. "Nothing has to stay as it is."