East Berliners get helping hands from West Berliners as they climb the Berlin Wall, which had divided the city since the end of World War II, near the Brandenburg Gate, early morning, Nov. 10, 1989. Germans celebrated the opening order that was announced by the East German Communist government hours before.
Berlin Wall construction
As the U.S. and the Soviet Union dueled for supremacy in space, they were locked in an equally intense terrestrial competition in Europe. Cold War tensions ratcheted up even further in 1961, when the Soviet-backed government in East Germany began building the Berlin Wall.
The Berlin Wall was designed to seal off East Berlin from the part of the city occupied by the three main Western powers (U.S., Great Britain and France), and to prevent mass illegal emigration to the West from the Soviet bloc.
During a perilous dispute over unrestricted American access to the communist-ruled sector of Berlin, U.S. Army tanks (in foreground) face Soviet tanks at the Berlin Wall, Friedrichstreet, "Checkpoint Charlie," on October 27-28, 1961.
An undated photo of Berlin Wall and a memorial to Ida Seikmann, a nurse in East Berlin who died during an escape attempt nine days after the wall was constructed.
Children at the Wall
A boy sitting on the shoulders of another child peers over the wall at Liesen Street in West Berlin, August 23, 1961.
The Brandenburg Gate is shrouded in fog as a man looks from a watchtower over the Wall towards the Eastern part of the divided city on November 25, 1961 in Berlin, Germany. The tower was erected by the West German police to observe the Inner-German border.
West Berlin youths carrying a black cross with the slogan "We Accuse" are driven back from the border wall by tear gas from grenades fired by East German border guards, near Wilhelmstrasse, Berlin, on Aug. 13, 1962. The protest marked the first anniversary of the Berlin Wall.
John F. Kennedy
On June 26, 1963, during a tour of West Germany, President John F. Kennedy addressed a crowd of 150,000 in West Berlin, pledging the United States would defend the city's freedom.
He said, "Freedom is indivisible, and when one man is enslaved, all are not free. When all are free, then we can look forward to that day when this city will be joined as one, and this country and this great continent of Europe in a peaceful and hopeful globe.
"When that day finally comes, as it will, the people of West Berlin can take sober satisfaction in the fact that they were in the front lines for almost two decades.
"All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words, Ich bin ein Berliner."
Passes to the West
Thousands of people line up at the Schillerstrasse in Charlottenburg, Berlin, Germany, to apply for a passage slip to get across the border after Berlin was separated by a wall, December 19, 1963.
A replica of "Tunnel 29," through which 29 East Germans were rescued via an underground route beneath the Berlin Wall.
Construction workers have a chat in West Berlin, April 18, 1967 at the meters-high wall separating the city, as the Communists held their seventh party congress in East Berlin.
View of Berlin's deserted Potsdamer Platz on June 17, 1978, secured with two walls, alarm systems and anti-tank obstacles. On June 17, 1953 the Potsdamer Platz was a center of a popular uprising against the Communist government, in which dozens (and possibly hundreds) were killed by security forces.
A section of the Berlin Wall is visible in July 1981, behind memorials dedicated to those who were shot attempting to escape over the wall into West Berlin.
This picture taken April 29, 1984 shows the Berlin Wall and the no-man's land marking the division between East and West Berlin .
The wall, built along the border between the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) and the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany), was the scene of the shooting of many East Germans who tried to escape to the West.
According to the August 13 Association, which specializes in the history of the Berlin Wall, at least 938 people (255 in Berlin alone) were fatally shot by East German border guards as they attempted to flee to West Berlin or into West Germany.
New York artist Keith Haring decorates the Berlin Wall with graffiti, near Checkpoint Charlie, on October 23, 1986.
American President Ronald Reagan, commemorating the 750th anniversary of Berlin on June 12, 1987, addresses the people of West Berlin at the base of the Brandenburg Gate, near the Berlin Wall. The President's amplified words, aimed at the leader of the Soviet Union, could also be heard on the Eastern side of the city when he said, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"
The address Mr. Reagan delivered is considered by many to have affirmed the beginning of the end of the Cold War and the fall of communism. West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl is second from right.
Hundreds of Germans demonstrate in the city of Leipzig, March 13, 1989, during an industrial fair for which visitors from Western countries came to the East German city. Protesters demanding freedom to travel outside the Soviet Bloc shouted, "We want out!"
East German citizens, using ladders built from boards, scale the walls of the West German embassy in Prague, Czechoslovakia, on October 3, 1989, in a desperate attempt to reach the first step to freedom. Several thousand refugees were reported in the mission. The embassy doors had been closed all morning due to overcrowding.
Protests were held in cities throughout East Germany in September and October, demanding the right to travel and calling for a democratically-elected government. Hundreds of people were arrested.
Here, a meeting of pro-democracy activists is held in the overcrowded Gethsemane Church in East Berlin, Oct. 10, 1989. About 3,000 took part in the peaceful demonstration in and around the church.
On Saturday, Nov. 4, 1989, about one million demonstrators crowded the Alexanderpletz in East Berlin in a protest rally against censorship and repression. On banners they demanded new leaders and free elections.
Soviet leader Michael Gorbachev refused to back the desperate GDR regime as leaders struggled to rewrite travel regulations, while the Czechoslovakian border, closed because of the influx of German emigres, was reopened. On November 9, Gunter Schabowski, the East Berlin Communist party boss, declared that starting from midnight, East Germans would be free to leave the country without permission at any point along the border, including the crossing-points through the Wall in Berlin.
Storming the Wall
Berliners from East and West crowd in front of the Branderburg Gate early Friday, November 10, 1989, standing atop and below the Berlin Wall. The citizens facing the West celebrate the order that was announced by the East German Communist government hours before.
A man sits atop the wall near the Brandenburg gate, Nov. 10, 1989, as he chisels a piece from the wall that had divided East and West Berlin. Thousands of East Berlin citizens came into the western part after the border opened, unifying East and West Germany.
East German citizens are applauded by West Berliners as they cross Checkpoint Charlie in their cars to visit West Berlin, Nov. 10, 1989. Thousands of East Germans moved into West Berlin after the opening of the wall by the East German government.
East German border guards use a hose to discourage West Berliners near the Brandenburg Gate, in Berlin, Nov. 11, 1989. The citizens from the west tried to demolish the wall, demanding it be pulled down.
West Berliners crowd in front of the Berlin Wall early on November 11, 1989 as they watch East German border guards demolishing a section of the wall in order to open a new crossing point between East and West Berlin, near the Potsdamer Square.
Berliners celebrate on top of the wall as East Germans flood through the dismantled Berlin Wall into West Berlin at Potsdamer Platz, in this Nov. 12, 1989, file picture.
An East German mother is overwhelmed by emotion as she crosses the border at Bernauer Strasse with her daughter on her shoulders, Nov. 12, 1989 in Berlin.
A man hammers away at the Berlin Wall, as the border barrier between East and West Germany was torn down after 28 years, in this Nov. 12, 1989, file picture.
An East German policeman looks through a hole in the Berlin Wall on Nov. 21, 1989.
A tourist takes a photo through a gap of two concrete plates of the former Berlin Wall at the wall memorial on Bernauer Street in Berlin, Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2008, prior to the 47th anniversary remembrance of the construction of the wall.
A boy touches the concrete plates of the east side of the former Berlin Wall at the wall memorial at Bernauer Street in Berlin, Aug. 13, 2009.
East Side Gallery
A tourist puts her hand on a painting on a segment of East Side Gallery in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2009. The same 118 artists from 21 countries who created the paintings in 1990 will repaint their pictures in the world's longest open-air art gallery after replacement of the concrete surface of the Wall.
East Side Gallery
Tourists take photographs of a painting on a segment of the reopened East Side Gallery in Berlin, Germany, Friday, Nov. 6, 2009. The same artists from 21 countries who created the paintings in 1990 repainted their pictures in the world's longest open-air art gallery after replacement of the concrete surface of the Wall.
Policemen stand guard next to a section of the Berlin Wall which has been removed to make way for a luxury apartment development on March 27, 2013, in Berlin, Germany.
East Side Gallery
People stand in front of a projection on the East Side Gallery, the largest remaining part of the former Berlin Wall, in Berlin, Germany, November 4, 2019.