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8,000 balloons lit to mark 25 years since fall of Berlin Wall

A nearly 10 mile stretch of 8,000 luminous balloons has been lit through the centre of Berlin as the German capital prepares to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall this weekend.

The balloons will be released into the air on Sunday evening as the city marks the quarter century since the opening of the border was announced.

The balloon columns are arranged along the former route of the Wall, passing city landmarks like the Brandenburg Gate and Checkpoint Charlie. Credit: Wolfgang Kumm/DPA/Press Association Images
The lanterns are a part of an art project titled 'Lichtgrenze 2014', which translates as Light Border. Credit: Wolfgang Kumm/DPA/Press Association Images
The long stretch of lights recreate the historic dividing line between East and West Germany that was demolished in 1989. Credit: Kay Nietfeld/DPA/Press Association Images


'Arbeit macht frei' sign stolen from Nazi concentration camp

Police in Germany have launched an appeal after thieves stole a sign from a gate in a former Nazi concentration camp in Dachau.

The metal lettering, which disappeared at the weekend, reads 'Arbeit macht frei' (Work will make you free) and was made by prisoners at the camp soon after its opening in 1933.

Image showing the gate before the theft (L) and afterwards with the gate missing (R) Credit: REUTERS/Michaela Rehle/Michael Dalder

Dr. Gabriele Hammermann, Director of Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial, called the theft a "reprehensible attempt to deny and obliterate the memory of the crimes committed in this place".

Close-up of the stolen sign Credit: REUTERS/Michaela Rehle

The sign had symbolic value as it separated prisoners from the outside world; many of them would have passed through the gate on their way to conduct forced labour.

A similar 'Arbeit Macht Frei' sign was stolen from Auschwitz in December 2009, but was later recovered in three pieces.

Merkel warns PM he's driving UK to EU exit door

German chancellor Angela Merkel will reportedly withdraw her support for keeping Britain in the EU if David Cameron continues his drive to curb immigration into the UK.

Der Spiegel news magazine quoted sources within Mrs Merkel's office and German foreign ministry who said she feared Britain was approaching "the point of no return" unless Mr Cameron changed his strategy.

Angela Merkel is reported to have warned David Cameron not to tighten Britain's immigration controls to counter the rise of Ukip. Credit: Maurizio Gambarini/DPA/Press Association Images

Mrs Merkel, along with other EU leaders, firmly believes the measures the Prime Minister is planning, which are widely seen as aimed to counter the threat of Ukip, would undermine the principle of the free movement of labour.

According to The Sunday Times, Mr Cameron's awareness of German opposition has seen him ditch a proposal to impose quotas on low-skilled EU migrants but he will still bid to stretch the EU rules "to their limits".

Postman celebrates retirement after 37 years in the job

For 37 years, Postman Fiete Nissen has loaded up his trolley with letters and packages and trundled down 10 miles of track to serve the people of two remote North Sea islands.

Postman Fiete Nissen on his last postround Credit: REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer

Nissen delivers the post to Oland and Langeness - two miniscule islands joined to mainland Germany by a narrow spit of land.

Nissen loads his trolley on the mainland Credit: REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer

The 64-year-old decked out his trolley with balloons and flowers and loaded up for the last time today as prepares to enter retirement.

The islands are connected to the mainland by a narrow spit of land Credit: REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer

Just 139 people live on the islands, which are around 112 miles (180km) north of Hamburg.


Oktoberfest: The world's biggest beer party starts

The beer is once again flowing in Munich as this year's Oktoberfest kicked off in the Bavarian capital. The beloved German beer feast is the world's largest beer festival.

Visitors toast with their one-liter beer mugs. Credit: Reuters

The festival is held annually in Munich, with many local breweries hosting huge parties. Beer is traditionally served in one-liter glasses served by men and women wearing traditional Bavarian costumes.

Visitors enjoy a beer during the opening day of the 181st Oktoberfest. Credit: Reuters

The 16-day festival runs until the first weekend in October with more than 6 million people from around the world attending.

People enjoy the opening day of the 181th Oktoberfest beer festival in Munich. Credit: PA Wire

Ex-Auschwitz guard 'charged with accessory to murder'

A 93-year-old man has been charged with 300,000 counts of accessory to murder for serving as an SS guard at the Nazis' Auschwitz death camp, according to prosecutors.

Speaking to the Associated Press, prosecutors said Oskar Groening was accused of helping operate the death camp in occupied Poland between May and June 1944, when some 425,000 Jews from Hungary were brought there and at least 300,000 almost immediately gassed to death.

Auschwitz concentration camp Credit: PA

In his job dealing with the belongings stolen from camp victims, prosecutors said among other things he was charged with helping collect and tally money that was found.

"He helped the Nazi regime benefit economically, and supported the systematic killings," state prosecutors in the city of Hannover said in a statement. Groening's attorney, Hans Holtermann, declined to comment on the charges.

Injuries after explosion at chemical plant in Germany

Several people have been injured after an explosion rocked a chemical plant near Bremen, northwestern Germany.

One person was severely burned in the blast and that the explosion damaged a nearby residential area in the town of Ritterhude, police said.

Around 30 to 40 houses were damaged in the blast as it shattered windows, ripped doors from their frames and tore off roofs.

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