70 Years of Liberty Bell - „The freedom I love“

Decorative graphic with a bell, doves and hearts

It was a Wednesday morning when I decided to ride my bicycle to the City Hall of Schöneberg with the intention to get married in the same week. After I had prepared all the necessary documents with my partner, we sat down the evening before to check the calendar and set a date for the marriage ceremony. Only then did we realize that there would be no other date available for the time being except in the same week. In addition to the forthcoming artist residency in New York, I would have to leave for Italy next Saturday, so that the marriage would be delayed for quite a while. This sudden time pressure turned the already extraordinary occasion into a real adventure.

While I was on the way to City Hall Schöneberg, I had a chance to pursue my thoughts.

While I was cycling through Schöneberg, I realized how familiar the neighborhood was to me. My mother, originally from Berlin, had grown up in Friedenau and knew the area very well. I was able to experience it on every family outing. On these occasions, we were going to see some of her former high school classmates and friends who still lived here. I later visited them myself accompanied by my friends, each time enjoying their warm hospitality. Thanks to these experiences, I visited the town regularly in the 1980’s and that is how I learned to love and appreciate the city and its people.

As always, it was an exciting time! Schöneberg grew many times larger overnight. The usual paths were magically extended by countless pubs and bars, which opened one after the other and seemed to hide behind seemingly ordinary doors during the day. One literally stumbled from one atmosphere to another without having a clue of what to expect. The faces were never the same, although the same friendly neighbors were always around during the day.

Then it was time. It was almost 11:00 o’clock.

I quickly locked my bike and climbed up the stairs to the City Hall. I could feel everyone eyeing me up with my all too stormy entrance at the concierge desk. However, when I was informed that the respective offices were closed today, I was not immediately dismissed but rather invited to take my chance.

I did not want to leave the building without an appointment for a marriage service in the same week. On my way through the historic building, I was impressed by the different styles and eras represented in the hallways. From the door handle to the window frame, along the corridor to the staircase, not to mention the works of art displayed at the wall, everywhere I encountered contemporary witnesses. Turning around a corner, I ran into two people deeply in conversation. Both looked at me in amazement when I asked them urgently for a wedding date as soon as possible. I had all necessary documents with me.

Decorative graphic of a heart

Fortunately, one of the gentlemen was willing to help me. The urgency of my request apparently created a certain charm. He asked me to follow him to his office and informed me that he would call his colleague and registrar to inquire whether she had an appointment available at such short notice. While he dialed the number of his colleague, he checked my papers. I was relieved when a voice answered right away. “I have an urgent request here for a wedding date.” Amused, the colleague replied that she would be happy to help. I was glad that my request was received so warmly.

„Tomorrow morning, 09:10 at the lobby, 09:20 admission, 09:30 introduction, 09:45 beginning of the wedding ceremony. Further dates are only available as of the end of September.“

Yes! The first YES has been said.

Decorative graphic of the peace dove with heart

As soon as I left the City Hall, I called my partner at work. It was almost noon. Tomorrow morning at 09:00 we will get married, I said shouting for joy. Something was wrong with her phone and when I could actually understand her, the bell suddenly started tolling. It seemed as if I was standing directly under the massive body of sound. Now, not with all the will in the world, we understood a single word. We started laughing so hard. However, the message could not have sounded better. I got goosebumps from happiness.

It was not until a few years later when I discovered that what announced the good news at Noon was the Berlin Freedom Bell! We both stayed in Berlin, within earshot of the Freedom Bell, which rang in our shared life.

Decorative picture with six bell graphics
Cover of a brochure with the inscription “70 years of the Freedom Bell in Berlin – 1950 to 2020”.

"70 Years of Liberty Bell in Berlin – 1950 to 2020"

A brochure celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Berlin Freedom Bell

On October 24, 2020, the Berlin Liberty Bell at Schöneberg City Hall turned 70 years old. To mark the occasion, the District Office of Tempelhof-Schöneberg published a 40-page brochure, written in German and English, which deals with the history of the Liberty Bell, its symbolism and individual significance for the citizens of Berlin.