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BERLIN – Thousands of people have joined rallies across Germany and other European countries to show their support for the idea of a united Europe.
The weekly demonstrations organized by a grassroots group calling itself Pulse of Europe began at the end of 2016 to counter growing nationalist sentiment on the continent and attendant opposition to the European Union.
Participants in Berlin said they turned out for a wide variety of reasons, but primarily to support the values, culture and openness that have developed in the seven decades since Europe was ripped apart by World War II.
Christian, 75, said he and his wife have lived in Berlin for some 50 years and witnessed the city's division when the Berlin Wall went up during the Cold War.
He says the idea of new barriers is a "bad dream" to envision for future generations.
"We've lived through it all here, and we know very well what borders mean and how senseless borders are," he says.
Sixty-seven-year-old Klaus started his working life in Berlin, then worked in the U.S., Poland and the Netherlands before returning to the German capital.
He said each of his experiences was positive, and he wants others to have the opportunities he did.
"I want to make sure that what I got to know remains the same, and continues to develop positively," he says. "I don't want to lose everything we've accomplished and the peace we have achieved."
Eva, 29, said she decided to participate because she was tired of seeing only protests organized by far-right parties and others EU critics.
"I think it's important to show that one stands for the values of Europe, and not only let the parties against them take over the public areas," she says.