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In pictures: The rise and fall of the Berlin Wall

運営事務局 JIMOPLE 98 November 9, 2019
West German children interact with East German border guards after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

Stephen Jaffe/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Updated 0502 GMT (1302 HKT) November 9, 2019

West German children interact with East German border guards after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

Stephen Jaffe/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

In the early 1960s, East German officials had a problem on their hands: In the years since the end of World War II, millions of their citizens had fled the communist state for neighboring West Germany.

Their answer? A barrier that would slice through Berlin, sealing off East Germany -- and East Germans -- from the West.

On August 13, 1961 citizens awoke to find a makeshift barricade of barbed wire and cinder blocks slicing through their city. Over the next three decades, it evolved into a 28 mile (45 kilometer) concrete wall fortified with watchtowers, electric fences, and armed guards.

The wall symbolized the deep ideological divide between the Soviet bloc and the West at the height of the Cold War.

But as the 1980s drew to a close, Communism's grip on the Eastern bloc slipped. Revolutions in Poland and Hungary paved the way for massive demonstrations in East Germany.

On November 9, 1989, the state opened its borders with West Germany.

This week marks 30 years since that momentous day, when crowds of East and West Berliners jubilantly clambered onto the wall, chipping away at both its graffitied (Western) and unadorned (Eastern) sides. The following year, Germany was officially unified.

Decades later, ghostly reminders of the wall that divided the city remain.

East German workers embed broken glass in the top of the Berlin Wall on August 22, 1961, shortly after construction began.


East German border guard Conrad Schumann's August 1961 escape over what was then a simple barbed wire barrier became one of the most memorable images of the Cold War era.

ullstein bild/Getty Images

West Berliners wave at relatives in the East, September 1961.


Soviet and American tanks face off at the border crossing known as "Checkpoint Charlie," in October 1961.


East German bricklayer Peter Fechter, 18, is carried away by border guards after being shot and fatally wounded while attempting to flee to the West in August, 1962. Almost 200 people were killed attempting to cross the Wall between 1961 and 1989.


A guard from West Berlin (right) talks to an East Berliner through a hole in the Wall, September 1962.


Martin Luther King Jr. gave sermons in both East and West Berlin during his September 1964 visit to the city. He won the Nobel Peace Prize later the same year.


Checkpoints along the Berlin Wall were temporarily opened in late March and early April 1972, to allow families and friends on both sides of the barrier to reunite over the Easter holidays.

Edwin Reichert/Associated Press

Canadian-American peace activist John Runnings, then aged 68, walked along a section of the Wall in 1986, as a form of non-violent protest.

Andreas Schoelzel/AP

United States President Ronald Reagan delivers his famous speech in front of the Brandenburg Gate in 1987, urging his Soviet counterpart: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!'

Ira Schwartz/AP

Hungarian border guards begin dismantling the "Iron Curtain" in May 1989, opening the country's border with Austria.

Bernhard J. Holzner/Associated Press

East German citizens scale the walls of the West German embassy in Prague in October 1989, in a desperate first step to freedom.

Antonin Novy/Associated Press

Protesters carry a banner reading "Gorbi Gorbi help us!" during a visit to East Germany by Mikhail Gorbachev -- then leader of the Soviet Union -- in October 1989.

picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Thousands of anti-Communist protesters hit the streets of Leipzig, East Germany, in November 1989. The massive protests were part of the peaceful revolution that helped bring down the Wall.

Georges Merillon/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images

On November 9, 1989, the East German government opened the country's borders with West Germany. The following day, citizens tried to pull down the Wall with just about any tool they could get their hands on.


People walk on the Berlin Wall in front of the Brandenburg Gate on November 10, 1989.


East German border guards appear in a gap in the Wall after demonstrators pulled down a segment of the barrier, on November 11, 1989.

Lionel Cironneau/AP

Thousands of people pass through a checkpoint at Bernauer Strasse, Berlin, on November 12, 1989.


A line of East Germany's famous Trabant cars heads West along a highway near Leipzig, following the fall of the Wall.

Thierry Orban/Sygma/Getty Images

East German border guards peer through the damaged wall, near Checkpoint Charlie, in February 1990.

Manfred Uhlenhut/dpa/picture-allianc/AP

People walk along the longest remaining section of the Wall, now known as the East Side Gallery, in August this year.

picture alliance/dpa/Getty Images

A graffiti-covered, overgrown segment of the original Berlin Wall, pictured in September 2019.

John Macdougall/AFP/Getty Images