On this day : November 9, 1989 – The Fall of the Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall was a barrier constructed by East Germany starting on August 13, 1961, that completely cut off (by land) West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin. The barrier included guard towers placed along large concrete walls, which circumscribed a wide area (later known as the “death strip”) that contained anti-vehicle trenches, “fakir beds” and other defenses. The Wall served to prevent the massive emigration and defection that marked Germany and the communist Eastern Bloc during the post-World War II period. Around 5,000 people attempted to escape over the wall, with estimates of the resulting death toll varying between 100 and 200.
In 1989, several weeks of civil unrest, the East German government announced on November 9, 1989 that all GDR citizens could visit West Germany and West Berlin. Crowds of East Germans crossed and climbed onto the wall, joined by West Germans on the other side in a celebratory atmosphere. Over the next few weeks, a euphoric public and souvenir hunters chipped away parts of the wall; the governments later used industrial equipment to remove most of the rest. The physical Wall itself was primarily destroyed in 1990.
1. East German border guards look through a hole in the Berlin wall after demonstrators pulled down one segment of the wall at Brandenburg gate Saturday, November 11, 1989. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)
2. East Berliners get helping hands from West Berliners as they climb the Berlin Wall which has divided the city since the end of World War II, near the Brandenburger Tor (Branderburg Gate), early Friday morning, November 10, 1989. The citizens facing the West celebrate the opening of the order that was announced by the East German Communist government hours before. (AP Photo/Jockel Finck)
3. Berliners from East and West crowd in front of the Brandenburger Tor (Branderburg Gate), early Friday morning, November 10, 1989, standing atop and below the Berlin Wall, which has divided the city since the end of World War II. The citizens facing the West celebrate the opening of the order that was announced by the East German Communist government hours before. (AP Photo/Jockel Finck)
4. East German citizens are applauded by West Berliners when they cross Checkpoint Charlie with their cars to visit West Berlin, Nov. 10, 1989. Thousands of East Germans moved into West Berlin after the opening of the wall by East German government. (AP Photo/Thomas Kienzle)
5. East German border policemen, right, refuse to shake hands with a Berliner who stretches out his hand over the border fence at the eastern site nearby Checkpoint Charlie border crossing point, Friday morning, November 10, 1989, after the borders were opened according to the announcement by the East German government. (AP Photo/Lutz Schmidt)
6. Typical of East Berlin measures to halt the escape of refugees to the west are these bricked-up windows in an apartment house along the city’s dividing line on Oct. 6, 1961. The house, on the South side of Bernauerstrasse, is in East Berlin. The sidewalk and street in the foreground are in West Berlin. (AP Photo)
7. Reverend Martin Luther King, American civil rights leader, invited to Berlin by West Berlin Mayor Willy Brandt, visits on September 13, 1964 the red wall. Here he is seen at the border Potsdamer Platz, West Berlin, Germany. (AP Photo)
8. Wooden memorial for Ida Siekmann, 58, who jumped to death in an attempt to escape on August 22, 1961. Ruins in rear are part of the Berlin Wall at Bernauer Strasse in Berlin in an undated photo. (AP Photo)
9. Father and son riding their bicycles along a section of the Berlin Wall, July 1981. (AP Photo)