November 9 marks 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. When the wall came down in
1989, signalling an end to nearly 30 years of division, photos which would one
day be iconic flew all a round the world. One of them was to become a piece of
the millions of pictures taken in those historic days, one shows two men
throwing a red box containing Coca-Cola over the wall - a small distance for
them, but a huge one for Coca-Cola.
of the men pictured was Paul-Gerhard Ritter, the managing director of the
Coca-Cola bottler in Lichterfelde. He understood that the Cold War was coming
to an end – it was the beginning of a new era.
only a few hours after the wall came down, he had trucks filled with Coca-Cola
driving to Kudamm to meet people from East Berlin as they rushed to enter the
long-forbidden western side of the city. Within two hours three trucks were
then stood with an employee at Glienicke Bridge, the place where agents and
prisoners were exchanged during the Cold War, in order to personally serve a
Coke to visitors from his home town. When a German Democratic Republic (GDR)
guard noticed this, he shouted, “Hey, I want one as well!”
was a time of rapid, bold decisions. A time of improvised offices at the
counters of hotel bars, when unreliable telephone connections caused the
temporary return of the telegram.
knew exactly what he was doing. He came from the East, attending a school in
the GDR until he was eight. However, in 1959, before the Wall was built, his
family moved to West Berlin.
did not waste time with questions – he acted. Due to the hard work and swift
action of Coke employees like Ritter, in the first week after the fall of the
Wall, two million people drank a toast to freedom with a Coke.