10 November 1989

Germans begin to tear down the Berlin Wall.

The Berlin Wall was a physical barrier that divided the city of Berlin, Germany, from August 13, 1961, until its fall on November 9, 1989. It was a concrete and barbed wire structure that separated East Berlin (controlled by the communist government of East Germany) from West Berlin (controlled by the democratic government of West Germany). The wall was a powerful symbol of the broader Cold War conflict between the Western democracies and the Eastern bloc led by the Soviet Union.

Construction: The construction of the Berlin Wall began in 1961 when the East German government, with the support of the Soviet Union, decided to build a barrier to prevent the mass emigration of its citizens to West Germany. The wall was constructed virtually overnight, dividing neighborhoods, families, and even streets.

Physical Structure: The Berlin Wall consisted of two parallel walls with a “death strip” in between, which was filled with obstacles such as barbed wire, guard towers, and anti-vehicle trenches. The entire structure was heavily guarded by armed East German soldiers.

Purpose: The primary purpose of the wall was to stop the flow of people leaving East Germany for the more prosperous and free West Germany. Thousands of East Germans had been defecting to the West in the years leading up to the construction of the wall.

Impact: The Berlin Wall had a profound impact on the people of Berlin and the world. Families were separated, and many East Germans risked their lives attempting to cross the wall to reach the West. Numerous people lost their lives in these attempts.

Fall of the Wall: On November 9, 1989, after months of protests and political changes in East Germany, the East German government announced that East Germans could travel to the West. Crowds of East and West Berliners gathered at the wall, and people began chipping away at it with hammers and chisels. This event marked the beginning of the end for the Berlin Wall.

Reunification: The fall of the Berlin Wall led to the eventual reunification of Germany. On October 3, 1990, East and West Germany officially became one country again. This was a historic moment, not only for Germany but also for Europe and the world.

Symbolism: The Berlin Wall became a symbol of the division between East and West, as well as the larger ideological and political divide of the Cold War. Its fall represented the end of the Cold War and the beginning of a new era in world politics.