The Berlin Wall: 1961 - 1989

  • Following World War II, Germany and the city of Berlin were divided into democratic West and communist East. Historic Brandenburg Gate became a symbol of the divide.
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    Following World War II, Germany and the city of Berlin were divided into democratic West and communist East. Historic Brandenburg Gate became a symbol of the divide.
    John Waterman/Fox Photos/Getty Images/Produced by Ryan Gibbons and Sarah Nathan
  • Initial portions of the wall, such as this one shown on Aug. 13, 1961, were constructed not of concrete but of barbed wire. The objective of the wall was to keep East Berliners from defecting to West Berlin.
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    Initial portions of the wall, such as this one shown on Aug. 13, 1961, were constructed not of concrete but of barbed wire. The objective of the wall was to keep East Berliners from defecting to West Berlin.
    AP/Produced by Ryan Gibbons and Sarah Nathan
  • West Berliners protest an East German border blockade two days after construction of the wall began. President Kennedy approached the situation with a passive attitude, saying, "A wall is not nice, but it's a helluva lot better than a war."
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    West Berliners protest an East German border blockade two days after construction of the wall began. President Kennedy approached the situation with a passive attitude, saying, "A wall is not nice, but it's a helluva lot better than a war."
    Sipa via AP/Produced by Ryan Gibbons and Sarah Nathan
  • The Berlin Wall did not only divide a city; in many cases it split families. In this photo taken on Aug. 14, 1961, two children in a West Berlin street speak with their grandparents through their window in East Berlin.
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    The Berlin Wall did not only divide a city; in many cases it split families. In this photo taken on Aug. 14, 1961, two children in a West Berlin street speak with their grandparents through their window in East Berlin.
    Keystone/Getty Images/Produced by Ryan Gibbons and Sarah Nathan
  • East German policemen peer into West Berlin over a temporary portion of the Berlin Wall. East Berliners were closely monitored by the notorious Stasi, the Ministry for State Security.
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    East German policemen peer into West Berlin over a temporary portion of the Berlin Wall. East Berliners were closely monitored by the notorious Stasi, the Ministry for State Security.
    Sipa via AP/Produced by Ryan Gibbons and Sarah Nathan
  • Two years after the construction of the Berlin Wall, President Kennedy delivers his famous "I am a Berliner" ("Ich bin ein Berliner") speech on June 26, 1963, in front of the city hall in West Berlin.
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    Two years after the construction of the Berlin Wall, President Kennedy delivers his famous "I am a Berliner" ("Ich bin ein Berliner") speech on June 26, 1963, in front of the city hall in West Berlin.
    AP/Produced by Ryan Gibbons and Sarah Nathan
  • A man attempts to flee East Berlin after climbing over the wall.  At least 136 people were killed trying to cross the Berlin Wall between 1961 and 1989.
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    A man attempts to flee East Berlin after climbing over the wall. At least 136 people were killed trying to cross the Berlin Wall between 1961 and 1989.
    AP/Produced by Ryan Gibbons and Sarah Nathan
  • President Reagan gives a thumbs-up sign after his speech in front of the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin. In Reagan's iconic speech on June 12, 1987, he said, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"
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    President Reagan gives a thumbs-up sign after his speech in front of the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin. In Reagan's iconic speech on June 12, 1987, he said, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"
    J. Scott Applewhite/AP/Produced by Ryan Gibbons and Sarah Nathan
  • People walk freely atop the Berlin Wall in front of the Brandenburg Gate on Nov. 10, 1989, one day after the border between East and West Berlin was opened.
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    People walk freely atop the Berlin Wall in front of the Brandenburg Gate on Nov. 10, 1989, one day after the border between East and West Berlin was opened.
    AP/Produced by Ryan Gibbons and Sarah Nathan
  • An unidentified West Berliner swings a sledgehammer at the wall near Potsdamer Platz, on Nov. 12, 1989.
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    An unidentified West Berliner swings a sledgehammer at the wall near Potsdamer Platz, on Nov. 12, 1989.
    John Gaps III/AP/Produced by Ryan Gibbons and Sarah Nathan
  • East and West Berliners tear down a portion of the Berlin Wall. The fall of the Berlin Wall was in many ways symbolic of the end of the Cold War.
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    East and West Berliners tear down a portion of the Berlin Wall. The fall of the Berlin Wall was in many ways symbolic of the end of the Cold War.
    Sipa via AP/Produced by Ryan Gibbons and Sarah Nathan
  • Thousands of East Berliners cross through an opening in the wall, traveling freely to the West for the first time since 1961.
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    Thousands of East Berliners cross through an opening in the wall, traveling freely to the West for the first time since 1961.
    Sipa via AP/Produced by Ryan Gibbons and Sarah Nathan
  • Checkpoint Charlie shown in June 1968 (left) and October 2009 (right). During the Cold War, it was the main border crossing between East and West Berlin; today the historic site is a popular shopping district and tourist attraction.
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    Checkpoint Charlie shown in June 1968 (left) and October 2009 (right). During the Cold War, it was the main border crossing between East and West Berlin; today the historic site is a popular shopping district and tourist attraction.
    John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images/Produced by Ryan Gibbons and Sarah Nathan
  • Birgit Kinder works on her painting Trabi on a portion of the Berlin Wall known as the East Side Gallery, on July 8, 2009.  Ninety-one international artists gathered to repaint their original creations on the concrete slabs.
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    Birgit Kinder works on her painting Trabi on a portion of the Berlin Wall known as the East Side Gallery, on July 8, 2009. Ninety-one international artists gathered to repaint their original creations on the concrete slabs.
    Maya Hitij/AP/Produced by Ryan Gibbons and Sarah Nathan

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