Following World War II, control of Germany was shared among four nations — the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and the Soviet Union. Germany’s capital of Berlin was divided between West and East, with the USSR maintaining control of the latter.
In 1961, in effort to keep the citizens of Eastern Berlin from relocating to the West, the USSR erected two concrete walls across 87 miles of Berlin, effectively segregating the East from the West and separating family, friends, and neighbors from one another. Between these two walls was a barren wasteland known as the “death strip” where armed guards monitored for defectors and many were killed attempting to flee East Germany.
In November 1989, following weeks of protests against the Soviet occupation of Berlin, Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev formally declared the opening of the border and the fall of the Berlin Wall. These pictures capture the emotional moments when Germany became whole again.
(The Berlin Wall opening in 1989)
(A boy chips at the Berlin wall on Nov. 12, 1989)
(A pair of punk rockers chip away at the Berlin Wall in this undated photo)
(Left: An emotional East German man embraces a young girl at the Austrian–Hungarian border after its official opening. Right: A West Berliner prepares to hand over an FRG flag to East German guards through a portion of the fallen Berlin Wall near the Brandenburg Gate on Nov. 11, 1989)
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