Agence France-Presse

Demolition of Berlin Wall called off, for now

A woman stands in front of the Berlin Wall, March 4, 2013. Property developers have halted demolition work at the wall pending further consultation, after massive public outcry.

BERLIN, Germany — The Berlin Wall won't be torn down – for now.

Protesters were celebrating here today after the developers who planned to remove part of the remaining wall to make way for a high-rise apartment complex announced that work would be halted until March 18, when a meeting is planned with the Berlin senate and neighborhood authorities.

"The crane has been taken away. We won't move any more parts of the wall for the time being," spokesman Maik Uwe Hinkel of Living Bauhaus developers told the local BZ newspaper, adding that nearby construction work was nonetheless continuing.

Around 100 protesters remained at the East Side Gallery, the mural-covered stretch of wall threatened by the development, on Monday morning, according to BZ.

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Activists say they plan to maintain a vigil there to ensure that no more panels are removed.

"It won't be 24 hours a day, but as soon as something happens, we'll be back," one of the protest organizers, Sasha Disselkamp, told the Berliner Zeitung.

Ever-larger crowds of protesters surrounded the site since demolition work began on Thursday, culminating in a rally on Sunday that drew an estimated 6,000 people.

Even German favourite David Hasselhoff got involved via Twitter:

The East Side Gallery is the longest remaining section of the wall still in its original place (though some panels have already been displaced to allow access to a sports and music arena opposite), and Berlin's second-biggest tourist destination.

It was announced last week that 22 meters of it would be removed to make way for Living Bauhaus's planned apartment block and a new pedestrian bridge, provoking accusations that Berlin was "selling itself and its history."

It remains unclear who wanted the wall taken down in the first place: the developers maintain that local authorities decided to remove it for the sake of the new bridge, that it is not actually necessary for the apartment complex and that they would be just as happy if "another solution" could be found.

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