On Friday, May 13, 2022, the ceremonial unveiling of an installation by the street artist "DYR Wandbrand", Damian Yves Rohde, took place on Berlin's Wittenbergplatz.
The artwork is seven 2m tall Buddy Bears, designed under the motto "Hand in Hand for Tolerance". The sculptures visualize the diversity of the population living in Berlin. In their design, Rohde's Buddy Bears illustrate the city's attitude towards life and are meant to be understood as a symbol for the inclusion and togetherness of all Berliners - whether long-established or newly arrived, regardless of skin color, religion or attitude towards life.
On the occasion of the unveiling of the artwork, the patron of the project – the Governing Mayor of Berlin, Franziska Giffey – also gave a speech.
"For over 20 years, the Buddy Bears have stood for Berlin and thus also for what makes our city: tolerance, diversity, freedom and peaceful coexistence. The Buddy Bears carry this message into our Berlin society and far beyond. They stand for a colorful society – in Berlin and worldwide," said Giffey.
In addition to the Governing Mayor, social entrepreneur and model Zohre Esmaeli also spoke to the invited guests from the arts, culture and Berlin's business community, as well as visitors to Wittenbergplatz. Among those present were also Jörn Oltmann (District Mayor of Tempelhof-Schöneberg), Dr. Andreas Knieriem (Director of the Zoological Garden), Stephanie Otto (Chairman of the Board BSR), Steffen Schröder (Managing Director Bürgerstiftung Berlin) and other personalities from the Berlin business and cultural scene.
Zohre Esmaeli appealed to the visitors: "Our current global situation demands, more than ever before, that we should be there for each other in solidarity and at the same time strengthen our democratic values."
Managing Director of Buddy Bär Berlin GmbH, Dr. Klaus Herlitz, found the following words at the ceremonial unveiling of the tolerance installation: "The greatest gift that can be given to a people is freedom. Berlin is the city of freedom. I am happy to have grown up in a free and tolerant Berlin and to live here."
The event was opened by the world premiere of the song "Oh Please", presented by the musician Mari.ama, whose content already picked up on the central motifs of the installation such as Tolerance, Respect, Freedom, Diversity and the central theme "Hand in Hand".
The Buddy Bears will be on display at Wittenbergplatz until November 2022.