Think of the place you call home: a place you always feel welcome, a physical representation of comfort and belonging. It’s a feeling we all strive for, even if we are far from the place we actually live.
And, sometimes, even we can’t predict just how powerful and transformative this feeling of belonging can be for people.
In May 2012, we got an email from an Airbnb guest, Cathrine, who had recently taken a trip to Berlin with her father, Jörg . Her story moved us so much–representing that sense of belonging through Airbnb in a way we couldn’t even imagine before. We were so moved that we decided to make a short film around it to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and share it with the rest of the world.
Cathrine’s father had been a border guard for the West German police force at the height of the Cold War. Since he had moved to Denmark before the reunification of East and West Germany, he’d never had the chance to see the city as anything but divided. In his mind, East Germany was still his enemy. And it was a weight that he carried with him all the years since he had left Berlin.
That all changed when Cathrine decided to take Jörg back to Berlin so that he could experience the vibrant and united city that Berlin had become since the fall of the wall. When they arrived at their Airbnb apartment in Prenzlauer Berg in East Berlin, they met Kai, who gave them the keys to their listing. As the two men got to talking and sharing their life experiences, they quickly realized that they had lived through very similar experiences. Both Kai and Jörg had been border guards on the Berlin Wall. The only difference? Kai had been a guard on the East side of the wall. And Jörg had been on the West.
Obviously, this chance encounter through Airbnb changed a lot for Jörg , his view of Berlin, and of the world around him. He found an unexpected friendship where he used to only see his enemies. And the weight of the wall that he had always carried with him was finally able to crumble away.
There are still many walls that divide us between nations, ideas, and cultures. But there are also thousands of strangers every night around the world who are meeting for the first time, getting the chance to share their stories, making friends out of strangers. We hope to create this sense of belonging, no matter where you are from or where you are in the world, through Airbnb.
And now, for our animated film, “Wall and Chain”
Inspired to visit Berlin? (We are too.) Explore our local listings here.