The fall of Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, not only reunited the people of East and West Germany, but also marked the end of decades of hostilities between the Soviet Union-led communist bloc and the West, in one of the most pivotal moments in world history. The barrier was first erected on the night of August 12–13, 1961 in compliance with a decree passed by the East German Volkskammer (“Peoples’ Chamber”).

Following Nazi Germany’s defeat in World War 2 in 1945, the country was split into four zones, each occupied by Great Britain, France, United States and the Soviet Union. Berlin, the capital city situated in Soviet territory, was also carved up between the occupying powers.

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Between 1949 and 1961, about 2.5 million East Germans had fled to West Germany, severely draining the region of its skilled workers, professionals, and intellectuals. East Germany (German Democratic Republic) built a barrier to shut access to West Berlin and, by default, West Germany.

The barbed wire and cinder blocks that formed the original Berlin Wall were eventually replaced by a series of up to 15-feet concrete walls, fortified with barbed wire, watchtowers, gun emplacements, and mines.

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By the 1980s, the wall extended 45 km through Berlin, dividing the two parts of the city, and extended a further 75 miles around West Berlin, separating it from the rest of East Germany. Still, about 5,000 East Germans managed to cross the barrier, while another 5,000 were captured by East German authorities and 191 more were killed in the attempt.

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The Berlin Wall came to symbolise the ‘Iron Curtain’, or the political boundary that divided Europe into two blocs until the end of the Cold War.

Three weeks after the fall of Berlin Wall, US President George HW Bush met with Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev at the Malta Summit and declared an end to the Cold War. And two years later, the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.