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David Hasselhoff returns to Germany to protect 'sacred' remains of the Berlin Wall

Excited crowds greet unlikely returning hero of German reunification

David Hasselhoff has returned to the scene of one of his career-defining moments, boosting a campaign to save the most famous remains of the Berlin Wall.

"The Hoff"- most famous for Baywatch, Knight Rider and pop hit "Jump In My Car"- played an unlikely role in the wall's toppling when his song "Looking for Freedom" topped the charts in both halves of the divided country.

On New Year's Eve 1989, he sang the song from the wall itself, creating an enduring popular symbol of German reunification and the fall of communism in Europe.

All that remains of the wall are two stretches, one of which is the famous East Side Gallery, decorated with murals by artists from around the world.

And now a Berlin property developer Living Bauhaus has bought the land from the Berlin senate and wants to knock down part of stretch, making way for access to luxury flats.

Over the weekend Hasselhoff returned to Berlin to greet crowds who have protested over the proposal.

Demolition work on the 20-metre section of the 0.8 mile stretch of wall was halted this month after activists formed a human chain protecting it.

The scale of the following protest, which attracted 10,000 demonstrators, prompted Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit to oppose the "unnecessary" demolition.

On Sunday, Hasselhoff said: "I didn't realise the significance of Looking for Freedom in east Germany until a few months ago.

"On my last tour there were thousands of Germans holding up signs saying 'We love you, thank you for Mauerfall (the fall of the wall).'"

"This last piece of the wall is really sacred, it's the last memorial to the people who died and to the perseverance of freedom," Hasselhoff said as he visited Berlin's East Side Gallery and was mobbed by thousands of fans. He compared the planned demolition to destroying New York's Ground Zero memorial for 9/11 victims.

According the The Guardian, he suggested he might be able to raise the funds to help the campaigners save the wall.

The crowd that greeted the star was so big and excited that he had to abandon plans to walk along the wall and instead greeted them from a bus, serenading the with lyrics from Looking for Freedom.

Project investor Maik Uwe Hinkel will today start talks with Berlin's senate and district government over the plans.