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Despite such frictions, many Berliners still harbor a dream that one day their city will again be whole. The wish is expressed openly on the Western side. "When the Wall was built, no one believed that the city would remain divided forever," says President Von Weizsacker. "That the Wall remains after 25 years is probably the most important proof of the fact that our feelings of belonging together are as strong today as in the past." On the Eastern side, officials insist that the "German question" is closed forever and denounce any suggestion of reunification. But the longing is not dead among the population. A visitor to East Berlin was consulting a city map on a park bench when an elderly woman asked if she could look. "We can't get maps that show the West," she explained, "and I just wanted to see the whole thing again."
The two cities will certainly not be unified anytime soon. West Berliners had hoped that next year, when the city celebrates its 750th anniversary, the two sides might enjoy some joint merrymaking. But East Berlin authorities have made it clear that they have no interest in such cooperation. "It's the anniversary celebration of a divorced couple," quips a senior West Berlin planner. Still, the physical barrier has failed to trample the yearning for unity on both sides. When West Germany scored its second goal in the World Cup soccer finals last June, a volley of flares and rockets lit the East Berlin sky. The gesture was more than an isolated celebration: it was a fraternal salute across the Wall from unseen friends.