Why the Berlin Wall rose—and how it fell

The Berlin Wall was a concrete barrier built in 1961 by the German Democratic Republic (GDR, East Germany) that divided Berlin into East and West. The wall was built as a response to the large number of East Germans fleeing to West Germany through the more permeable border between East and West Berlin. The wall was 27 miles long, and it was protected with barbed wire, attack dogs, and 55,000 landmines.

During the night of August 13, 1961, the GDR began building fences to seal off entry points between East Berlin and the western part of the city. Residents on both sides of the new border were stunned. Over the years, about 5,000 people made successful escapes crossing the wall, while at least 140 died while trying to cross it.

The Berlin Wall stood for 28 years, until a massive democratic movement brought down the wall and the GDR, signaling the end of the Cold War.

The wall became a symbol of the Cold War . By 1989, many East Germans had had enough and they held a series of mass demonstrations demanding democracy. On November 9, 1989, the East Berlin Communist Party announced travel reforms in response to the protests. Thousands of East Berliners flooded toward border crossings along the Wall. The confused guards eventually opened the gates. West Berliners met them in a jubilant welcome, and the people began to tear down by hand. Less than a month later, the GDR collapsed. In 1990, Germany reunified.

Source: Why the Berlin Wall rose—and how it fell
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