Germany scraps plan for reunification monument

Cost-overuns cited for decision to abandon Berlin mounument.

Germany has abandoned plans for a monument to the nation's 1990 reunification over concerns that the estimated €10 million price tag for the east Berlin project would end up costing at least €15 million.

The decision to scrap the Monument to Freedom and Unity was taken after the budget committee of the Bundestag, or lower house of parliament, withdrew its support from the project after claiming it would run into cost overruns of 50 per cent.

Germany's culture minister Monika Gruetters said she regretted the decision to halt the monument whose constuction was first announced in parliament in 2007, on the 18th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989. The east Berlin site selected – between Schlossplatz and the Lustgarten on an island in the river Spree – had once housed the Palace of the Republic, the former parliament of the German Democratic Republic (GDR)'s communist regime, which was demolished in late 2008.

Over the years the realisation of the monument has been stalled by several factors including the discovery of mosaics buried below the memorial site, as well as protected bats which roost in the vaults under ground.

The winning entry of a 2011 government competition to design a reunification monument was entitled Citizens in Motion by the German design firm Milla & Partners and Berlin choreographer Sasha Waltz.

Designed as a movable scale, or “see-saw”, the 50m-long tilting steel dish would shift its weight depending on which side visitors stood. It was designed to hold a maximum of 1,400 people at any one time but only needed 20 people to make it move.

Its base was to have been inscribed with the words Wir sind das Volk, wir sind ein Volk (We are the people, we are one people), echoing the slogans used in the 1989 demonstrations that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall.