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The Wall comes down

How the fall of the Berlin Wall came about

In October of 1989, the GDR celebrated its 40th anniversary with a large military parade. But just a few weeks later the world changed in Berlin: GDR citizens demonstrated until the Wall finally came down on 9 November after more than 28 years. Berliners in East and West hurried to the border crossings to greet each other and celebrate together. With this peaceful revolution, the people brought down the wall of dictatorship. 

07.10.89 The beginning of the end: The final anniversary of the GDR

The 40th anniversary of the GDR was long in the planning and meticulously prepared by the SED leadership. Despite Monday demonstrations and a mass exodus, the anniversary of the GDR was celebrated with a military parade. While the citizens demonstrated and demanded reforms, Erich Honecker invited numerous foreign state guests to the Palace of the Republic.

04.11.89 Demonstration at Alexanderplatz: "We are the people"

A few days before the fall of the Berlin Wall, the largest demonstration in GDR history took place. Artists and functionaries gathered at Alexanderplatz, demanding a fresh political start. No-one was thinking of reunification at this point, as the belief in socialism still remained. But the GDR politicians were booed by the people at the rally.

09.11.89 7pm: A slip of the tongue opens the border

It was just before 7pm on November 9, 1989 and Günter Schabowski, the "Secretary for Information", put on his glasses at the International Press Centre of the GDR and read out a statement with which he was supposed to announce solely the new travel law, but instead opened the wall. The extended freedom for GDR citizens to travel applied "immediately, without delay". This certainly attracted the attention of everyone in the room.

09.11.89 11:30pm The night of the fall of the Wall

The German-German border ran through the middle of the Bösebrücke in Berlin between Wedding and Prenzlauer Berg. Here – on the east side of the border – a huge crowd gathered on the night of 9 and 10 November 1989. The new travel regulations had brought people here – and more and more were coming. Finally the border guards opened the border barrier and the jubilant people streamed over the bridge to the west.

November 89 "Wallpeckers" at the Brandenburg Gate

Knocking, hammering, clanking, rattling and crumbling: shortly after the fall of the Wall, the "wallpeckers" set to work. Among them were souvenir hunters, tourists and traders, but also GDR opponents. Little by little, piece by piece, they removed the façade of the Berlin Wall – not even the loudspeaker announcements of the West Berlin police could stop them, since here souvenirs of freedom were to be found.

App ABOUT Berlin - Explore the future through history

What happened next? Read the whole story in our Berlin app ABOUT BERLIN. It presents hands-on history, moving stories and unknown aspects of politics – that's how history comes alive! Available free of charge for iPhone and Android.

Download the app here