'Thirty years of freedom!' Why David Hasselhoff remains an icon for German unity

At his recent Berlin concert, the Hoff once again recalled his part in the fall of the Wall. His obsession with reunification is gauche – but his message of hope is still necessary

Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!” David Hasselhoff chants as he snakes his way through the Max-Schmeling-Halle, a basketball stadium erected near where a section of the Berlin Wall once stood. It’s German Unity Day, Thursday 3 October, and Hasselhoff is here to promote his 14th album Open Your Eyes. The date is no coincidence.

As the show begins, the actor and singer is raised on a hydraulic platform above the crowd, and it’s hard not to recall how, on New Year’s Eve 1989 – less than two months after the Wall fell – he was similarly lifted beside the city’s Brandenburg Gate in a bucket crane. “Thirty years of freedom!” Hasselhoff yells today, adding, in a nod to John F Kennedy’s 1963 speech, “Ich bin ein Berliner!”

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