30 Years After The Berlin Wall Fell, Here Are Some Of The Most Powerful Moments In Pictures
Its been three decades since the Berlin Wall was dismantled.
The fall of the Berlin Wall was significant for both Germany and the world. It came to symbolise not only the separation of a nation, but the ideological and political differences between the eastern and western spheres of the globe.
The wall came to emphasise the differences between people, but when it came down on November 9, 1989, people across the globe were inspired to hope for a future of unity and peace.
Rise Of The Berlin Wall
German citizens woke on August 13, 1961 to find a makeshift barrier between the east and the west sectors of Berlin and the wider nation.
Following the German loss in the Second World War, both the city of Berlin and Germany as a whole was divided into four sectors that would each be controlled by one of four Allied members. England, France and America bought their democratic rule to their areas, while the Soviet Union enforced their communism.
Between 1945 and 1961, nearly 3.5 million East Germans fled to the West. This became known as the 'brain drain' where primarily young and educated East Germans left seeking more opportunities and freedoms..
The Wall was built to stop East Germans from leaving the Russian sector.
The preliminary parts of the Berlin Wall were erected almost overnight. At about midnight on the 13th o August, army officers from the East rolled kilometres of barbed wire across the city and parts of the countryside. This evening became known as 'Stacheldrahtsonntag' or 'barbed wire Sunday'.
Strengthening The Berlin Wall
The initial barbed wire barrier between East and West Berlin was strengthened between 1961 and 1980. The fall was developed into a nearly impregnable concrete structure that encircled West Berlin.
The wall came to feature guard towers, mental mesh fences, light trips, dogs and buckers. A section, known as the 'death strip' had sand and gravel, rendering footprints easy to notice.
The Wall in both Berlin and between the larger border between East and West Germany were heavily guarded by East German border guards, who were authorised to shoot to kill if they noticed anyone trying to escape.
At least 138 people were killed trying to breach the wall between East and West Berlin in the 28 years it stood.
U.S. Presidents In BerlinU.S. Presidents John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan both visited West Berlin while in office.
Kennedy delivered his famous 'Ich Bin Ein Berliner' address in West Berlin on June 26, 1963. The speech is widely regarded as one of the most iconic Cold War speeches. Kennedy used his address to solidify the U.S. commitment to West Berlin and slam human rights violations by the Russian Government in the East.
Reagan gave his speech, made famous for the line 'Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall' at the Brandenberg Gate on June 12, 1987. Reagan called for the Soviet General Secretary, Mikhail Gorbachev to open the border between East and West Berlin and called for openness and unity in the city.
Fall Of The Wall And Aftermath
The fall of the Berlin Wall on the 9th of November, 1989 was triggered by a simple, yet vital, public relations blunder.
Socialist Party Chief of Berlin, Günter Schabowski, held a press conference on the evening of November 9th to announce that travel restrictions for East German citizens would be relaxed. The conference was broadcast live on both East and West German television.
While these measures were to come into effect the next day on the 10th, Schabowski hadn't been briefed properly and was unaware of this fact.
When a West German journalist asked him when the measures would come into force, he said they were effective immediately. This resulted in hundreds of East and West Germans flocking to the wall to break through.
30th Anniversary Festival In Berlin
A week-long festival was held in Berlin to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the fall of Berlin Wall. Starting on November 4, hundreds of events were hosted in the city to reflect on the time since German reunification.
Performances, art installations and debates were held throughout the week, so citizens could mark and participate in the anniversary.
A series of photos remembering the people who died trying to escape the East were put on display at Bernauer Street. A 30,000 ribbon wave hung near the Brandenburg Gate, each ribbon with a message of hope for the country as it moves forward.
Forums were also held to examine the successes and failures of reunification, so a better future for all Germans is kept front of mind.
The Berlin Wall In Modern Germany
The Berlin Wall, though decades old, still forms a significant part of the landscape in Germany's capital.
Tourists flock from all over the world to admire the artwork at the East Side Gallery or to visit Checkpoint Charlie -- a major crossing point between the East and West.
There's also a brick line throughout the city that marks the former position of the wall. Each day pedestrians cross over the line with a freedom that was once unimaginable.
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