In 2001, artists decorated approximately 350 fibreglass bears for display around the streets of Berlin. As with similar public art “parades” (cows, elephants, Paddington Bears, etc.), at the end of the display the creations are auctioned for charity. Some of these Buddy Bears, as they are known, can still be seen around the city, mainly inside or outside offices, hotels and restaurants.
Following on from the original bears, a phenomenon known as United Buddy Bear was created in 2002, to spread a message of peace, international understanding and tolerance among the nations, cultures and religions of this world. For this, over 140 two metre tall bears were created to represent the countries acknowledged by the United Nations. These bears stood hand-in-hand in a circle around the Brandenburg Gate in 2002 and again in 2003, followed by a world tour. In fact, you can catch them in Santiago de Chile right now, where they are on display until 19th June.
One of the original 2002 United Buddy Bears, Libärty, stands in the foyer of the United States Embassy in Berlin. It represents the Statue of Liberty, which itself is a universal symbol of freedom. If you look closely at the reflections in the shot above, you can see part of the columns of the Holocaust Memorial which is situated just next to the Embassy. A poignant reminder of the need for tolerance and respect between nations.