World

The Fall of the Berlin Wall
On Nov. 9, 1989, the communist government of East Germany announced that all residents would be permitted to travel to West Berlin and West Germany. Crowds of Eastern and Western Germans climbed onto the wall, where they met in peaceful celebration. The fall of the Berlin Wall began the process of German reunification and precipitated the fall of communist regimes across Eastern Europe, thus drawing the Cold War to an end. Germany was officially reunited on Oct. 3, 1990.

The Berlin Wall

On Nov. 9, 1989, the communist East German government announced that all citizens would be permitted to visit West Berlin and West Germany, officially ending half a century of militarily enforced division. As the news spread, crowds of Eastern and Western Germans rushed to the Berlin Wall, where they met on top in peaceful celebration. 

The fall of the Berlin Wall -- the ultimate symbol of Cold War tensions and division -- began the process of German reunification and precipitated the downfall of other communist regimes across Eastern Europe. Germany was officially reunited on Oct. 3, 1990.

In this photo, East and West Germans join hands in front of the Brandenburg Gate, where, two years earlier, American President Ronald Reagan had called on Soviet Premier Gorbachev to allow German reunification.

A symbol of communist oppression since 1961, the Berlin Wall or 'Iron Curtain' became the site of massive celebration for Germans.

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Soviets in Berlin

May 20, 1945: Victorious Soviet troops march past the Brandenburg Gate at the end of World War II in Berlin, Germany.

The Nazis surrendered to the Allied Powers on May 8, 1945, agreeing to divide Germany and its capital city, Berlin, into four sectors -- an American zone, a British zone, a French zone and a Soviet zone. 

The American, French, and British occupiers encouraged Western Germany to develop a democratic government, while the Soviets imposed a communist regime. Germany thus became an early site of Cold War tensions.

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Berlin in Ruins

The burned-out ruins of the German Reichstag in Berlin are seen in this photo from August 1945, three months after the Nazis surrendered to the Allied Powers on May 8, 1945. A wrecked armored vehicle stands in the foreground amid the rubble.

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Berlin Airlift

June 6, 1948: U.S. Air Force C-54 Skymaster aircraft lands at Berlin Tempelhof Airport during The Berlin Airlift.

The Berlin Airlift was prompted by the Soviet's Berlin Blockade, one of the first international crises of the Cold War. Soviet forces, seeking to block the Western Allies' railway and road access to the three sectors of Berlin under Western control, hoped to take control of the entire city by becoming the sole suppliers of food and fuel for Berlin. 

In response to the Soviet aggression, the Western Allies organized the Berlin Airlift to transport supplies to the millions of people -- without food or fuel -- stranded in West Berlin.

AP

Turned Away

An East German couple is turned away from the border, blocked by East German soldiers and barbed wire, after trying to cross into West Berlin, Aug. 13, 1961. To stem the flow of refugees to the West, East Germany closed the border to all citizens and residents, except those with a special police permit.

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The Iron Curtain

September 22, 1961: To block Germans from emigrating from communist East Germany to the free market Western zones, East Germany constructed the Berlin Wall, a complex fortification composed of concrete walls, watch towers, anti-vehicle trenches, barbed wire, and armed guards. 

In this photo, East Germans place pieces of broken glass on top of the Berlin Wall. The boundary, which would be known as the 'Iron Curtain,' was constructed as a barrier between communist East Berlin and democratic West Berlin, and was intended to prevent residents  from leaving the Eastern Bloc.

AP

The Iron Curtain

Oct. 7, 1961: A West German police officer stands guard as East German workers construct the Berlin Wall.

On Nov. 9, 1989, the communist East German government announced that all citizens would be permitted to visit West Berlin and West Germany. Crowds of Eastern and Western Germans climbed onto the wall, where they met in peaceful celebration. The fall of the Berlin Wall began the process of German reunification and precipitated the fall of other communist regimes across Eastern Europe. Germany was officially reunited on Oct. 3, 1990.

AP

Escape Attempt

A refugee from the German Democratic Republic (DDR) is seen during his attempt to escape from the East German part of Berlin to West Berlin by climbing over the Berlin Wall on October 16, 1961.

AP

Iron Curtain

In the foreground, French Military Police, left, West Berlin alert police, right, and West Berlin custom officials are on guard in front of the concrete wall on the western side of the Berlin Wall in the French sector near Schoenholz, Germany, on Sept. 27, 1961. In the background behind the concrete wall and barbed wire fence are East Berliners working on cable. Beyond them East German soldiers guard the border.

AP

Berlin Wall Victims

Aug. 17, 1962: East German Peter Fechter is carried away by East German border guards who shot and killed him when he tried to cross the Berlin Wall into Western Germany.

Kennedy's Speech

President John F. Kennedy speaks to a crowd of more than 300,000 Berliners gathered to hear Kennedy's speech where he declared "Ich bin ein Berliner," "I am a Berliner," in the main square in front of Schoeneberg City Hall in West Berlin on June 26, 1963. Kennedy is on his 10-day tour of European countries.

AP

Kennedy's Speech

President John F. Kennedy waves back to a crowd of more than 300,000 Berliners gathered to hear Kennedy's speech where he declared "Ich bin ein Berliner," "I am a Berliner," in the main square in front of Schoeneberg City Hall in West Berlin on June 26, 1963. Kennedy is on his 10-day tour of European countries.

AP

Border Guards

Feb. 14, 1988: East German border guards take a ladder back over the wall to East Berlin after correcting the border line between the West Berlin district of Wedding in the French sector and Prenzlau in East Berlin. Border corrections were agreed between East and West Berlin authorities in late 1988. 

AP

Germans Reunited

Nov, 10, 1989: Residents of East and West Germany meet on top of the Berlin Wall to celebrate the lifting of travel restrictions.

Just hours earlier, the communist East German government announced that all citizens would be permitted to visit West Berlin and West Germany. Crowds of Eastern and Western Germans climbed onto the wall, where they met in peaceful celebration. 

The fall of the Berlin Wall began the process of German reunification and precipitated the fall of other communist regimes across Eastern Europe. Germany was officially reunited on Oct. 3, 1990.

 

AP

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Nov. 10, 1989: East German soldiers stand guard behind a fallen section of the Berlin Wall. The 'Iron Curtain' served as a partition between West Berlin and the communist Eastern Bloc since its construction in 1961.

AP

Germans Reunited

A West German policeman, left, gives a helping hand to an East German border guard who climbs through a gap of the Berlin Wall when East Germany opened another passage at Potsdamer Platz in Berlin, Nov. 12, 1989.

AP

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Nov. 12, 1989: People celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall just three days after East Germany's government announced that residents would be permitted to travel to West Berlin and West Germany. 

A symbol of communist oppression since 1961, the Berlin Wall or 'Iron Curtain' became the site of celebration for Germans. Machines, as well as enthusiastic residents with hammers, dismantled the remainder of the wall and Germany was officially reunited on Oct. 3, 1990.

 

AP

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Nov. 12, 1989: A man takes a sledgehammer to the Berlin Wall three days after East Germany's communist government announced that residents of East Berlin would be permitted to travel to West Berlin.

AP

Germans Together

East Berliners stand on top of the Berlin Wall near the Brandenburg Gate, Dec. 22, 1989, after two crossings were opened, making the historic site a public place for the first time in 28 years.

Checkpoint Charlie

Nov. 9, 1989: West Berlin citizens celebrate in the eastern part of the Checkpoint Charlie border crossing in West Berlin after the announcement by communist East Germany that it would open its borders to the west after more than a quarter of a century of division.

AP

Berlin Wall Museum

Oct. 25, 1999: Tourists peer through the remaining section of the Berlin Wall at the Wall Museum in Berlin, Germany.

AP

Berlin Wall Memorial

Aug. 12, 2003: Commemorative crosses erected for Berlin Wall victims on banks of the River Spree, Berlin, Germany

AP

Berlin Wall Memorial

Aug. 13, 2001: Flowers are placed at the Berlin Wall memorial in memory of victims who died fleeing East Germany, during the 40th anniversary commemoration in Berlin, Germany.

AP

Berlin

West Berlin citizens welcome East Germans who passed the Berlin Wall border checkpoint Invalidenstrasse in an East German Trabant car, after the opening of the East German border was announced in Berlin, November 9, 1989. On the right, cars drive along Invalidenstrasse in Berlin July 21, 2009. Invalidenstrasse is now the location of Berlin's railway station, Haupbahnhof, which connected the lines between East and West Germany.

REUTERS

Brandenburg Gate

East and West German citizens celebrate as they climb the Berlin Wall at the Brandenburg gate after the opening of the East German border was announced in Berlin, November 9, 1989. On the left is a view of the Brandenburg Gate July 22, 2009.

REUTERS

Berlin Wall Memorial

Aug. 13, 2001: Flowers are placed at the Berlin Wall memorial in memory of victims who died fleeing East Germany, during the 40th anniversary commemoration in Berlin, Germany.

AP

Berlin

West Berlin citizens welcome East Germans who passed the Berlin Wall border checkpoint Invalidenstrasse in an East German Trabant car, after the opening of the East German border was announced in Berlin, November 9, 1989. On the right, cars drive along Invalidenstrasse in Berlin July 21, 2009. Invalidenstrasse is now the location of Berlin's railway station, Haupbahnhof, which connected the lines between East and West Germany.

REUTERS

Brandenburg Gate

East and West German citizens celebrate as they climb the Berlin Wall at the Brandenburg gate after the opening of the East German border was announced in Berlin, November 9, 1989. On the left is a view of the Brandenburg Gate July 22, 2009.

REUTERS

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

On Nov. 9, 1989, the communist government of East Germany announced that all residents would be permitted to travel to West Berlin and West Germany. Crowds of Eastern and Western Germans climbed onto the wall, where they met in peaceful celebration. The fall of the Berlin Wall began the process of German reunification and precipitated the fall of communist regimes across Eastern Europe, thus drawing the Cold War to an end. Germany was officially reunited on Oct. 3, 1990.

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