Stories XX Century

The Tearing Down of the Berlin Wall


The Communist government began constructing the Berlin Wall in an attempt to stop the hordes of refugees trying to leave East Berlin. Construction of the wall brought about a temporary crisis in the relationship between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. The wall, sometimes called the “Iron Curtain” became a symbol of the Cold War.

Barbed-wire fences rose in Berlin on August 13, 1961. Then a concrete wall was erected. The wall was a powerful barrier that effectively split East and West Berlin.

Berlin Wall East Side Gallery. Source:

The last day before the wall rose, over 2,000 East Germans crossed into West Berlin. Less than 5,000 people were able to get safely over the barrier in the three decades that followed. Some people dug underground tunnels, some drifted over in crude hot-air balloons, and others devised a zip line between East and West.

By 1989, the winds of change were blowing across Eastern Europe. Eastern Berliners were exasperated with communist rule. Food in East Berlin was getting hard to come by.

There was a burgeoning disorder and turbulence among the country’s young people and this became a growing concern to East German power. Radio and television shows could not be easily blocked, so the teenagers on both sides of the wall became enamored of rock-and-roll music. Angry citizens wanted the wall to tumble down– and tumble it did.

Berlin Wall Ddr Wall Architecture. Source:

When the wall came tumbling down

East German officials opened the border on November 9th, more than 3 decades ago.

A spokesman for the Communist Party proclaimed that beginning at midnight, citizens of East Germany would be permitted to cross the border.

More than 2 million people spilled over the wall from one side to the other.  During a 2-day festival people danced on top of the edifice and whittled off souvenirs with mallets and axes.

Berlin Wall, East Side Berlin. Source:

In October 1990, East and West Germany were officially joined again as a single country.

As people all over the globe watched, a large piece of the Wall was lifted by a crane. After the Berlin wall was completely demolished, pieces of it were sent to museums all over the world.

Just as construction of the wall brought about a temporary crisis in the relationship between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, the dismantling of the barrier heralded the end of the Cold War.