Partnership with Kyiv: Christmas market at Charlottenburg Palace sends a signal to Ukraine

“Hug my compatriots!” the new Ukrainian ambassador to Germany, Oleksii Makeiev, asked visitors to the Berliner Christmas market in front of Charlottenburg Palace. At the opening ceremony on Monday evening, he thanked the Germans for their solidarity. A group of young women from Kyiv, who acted as angels with lanterns, described Makeiev as “ambassadors of light” – which in his homeland can no longer shine everywhere because of the Russian attacks on the energy supply.

There are special reasons why the ambassador came to the market place at the castle together with Berlin’s governing mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD) and the CDU MP Ariturel Hack from Westend. The mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, attended the opening in 2015. Because the organizer Tommy Erbe has been running a cultural project called “Kyiw meets Berlin” for about eight years.

This time, donations will also be collected. The market operator has the club Ukraine Aid Berlin and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Berlin provided three of the 20 tent pagodas. In it, market visitors can also buy “typical handicraft products” from Ukraine. Two photo artists present their exhibition “The Price of Freedom”.

This time, several of the angel actresses did not travel directly from Kyiv, but from various European countries to which they had fled after the outbreak of war. The music at the market is performed by members of the Lviv City Orchestra. These men were allowed to leave their country despite martial law because they are over 60 years old.

A light artist is illuminating the palace facade and also wants to project patterns with the colors of the Ukrainian flag, blue and yellow. As the landlord of the market area, the Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation asked for “political neutrality”, says event organizer Erbe. However, he doesn’t think much of that, after all, the Russian war against Ukraine is about an attack that violates international law.

Senate leader wants to support the location at the castle

The Christmas market in front of the palace is considered one of the most beautiful in Berlin. Nevertheless, it will probably take place there for the last time because the Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation wants to build a visitor center for the Berlin landmark on part of the area. The Governing Mayor announced that she would ask the foundation for an interview in order to “save the beautiful market”.

Controversy over security measures

What is striking this year is that bollards against terrorist attacks with vehicles are missing. The district office of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf had not delivered any, although the Berlin administrative court ruled that the event organizers did not have to finance the protection against attacks themselves. However, the district considers the Senate Interior Administration to be responsible. Police officers at the entrance to the market did not want to comment on Monday. “The approval authority is the district office,” it said.

Other large Christmas markets in City West have also started

In Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, the Christmas market at the Memorial Church on Breitscheidplatz started on Monday evening with more than 200 sales booths, two children’s carousels and a 360-metre-long “sky of lights” made of LED lights. The Governing Mayor Franziska Giffey also attended the opening there.

The “Christmas Mile” started on Monday in the pedestrian zone Wilmersdorfer Straße. There are handicraft stands, a mini toboggan run, children’s carousels and performances by street artists.

Here are the topics from the current Tagesspiegel newsletter for City West:

  • Berlin elections must be repeated – reactions from the district
  • Kantstrasse will have bus lanes and permanent bike lanes
  • First milieu protection areas planned in Wilmersdorf
  • Dispute over bus transport to Teufelsberg and Ökowerk
  • Charlottenburg resident portrays private individuals in front of the camera
  • Radio tower open again
  • free tickets for gallery tour and guitar concert
  • Local on Uhlandstrasse closed due to new building project
  • 1. FC Union is planning games in the Olympic Stadium – we have collected votes on it

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