Berlin Wall: Fall of the Wall

After decades of Berlin being split into two different states the citizens of both sides remained unhappy - the lack of freedom for the East Berliners continued and the feeling of fear continued. This was exaggerated by the liberation of other communist areas...

As tensions continued to grow many East Germans felt their voices needed to be heard - the East Germans were demanding democracy.


Throughout September and October 1989 a number of ‘Monday Demonstrations’ occurred throughout cities in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) with the most well known being in Leipzig.

On 7th October 1989, 40 years after the formation of the GDR, there was a demonstration in Berlin again what the Wall represented. The police and guards reacted in a violent way - beating the protesters. Even more surprising as it was documented by multiple Western news and camera teams meaning people around the world could see the very forceful response to the demonstrators, further showing that East Berliners did not have the freedoms that many others across the world did. This added fear to the planned demonstrators in Leipzig happening only two days later - if Berliners received that violence whilst being documented what would happen to the Leipzig - there was no one there to document it or stop any violence.

However the demonstration went on and remained peaceful and calm and there was no reason for the Armed Forces or police to intervene.

 
 

Monday Demonstration on 23.10.1989 in Leipzig

Attribution: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-1989-1023-022 / Friedrich Gahlbeck / CC-BY-SA 3.0

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany license


On 9th November 1989, with the increase in demonstrations the East Germany, the government saw that something had to be done…

© Crown copyright. IWM (CT 1494) East German guards struggle to restrain a crowd during the opening of the Berlin Wall, November 1989.

In the hopes of winning favour with their citizens by making travel permits out of the GDR much easier to get out of East Germany - due to miscommunication  it was interpreted that the Wall would fall, this was not the intention but it was too late. Later that very night, thousands of East Berliners went to the crossing point of the Wall with the understanding it was free to cross. The amount of people was almost uncontrollable for the guards and the demand to cross meant that the borders were opened immediately.

Flocks of people crossed the boundaries and both West and East Berliners celebrated the end of this division and the start of reunification of Germany.


People danced on top of and around the Wall and some parts the Wall was being destroyed by hand! Further cementing the end of this division. More than 2 million people from East Berlin crossed the boundary that weekend to celebrate that freedom in the middle of the streets. These kind of celebrations have happened after many conflicts have been seen as coming to an end, see more about Street Parties in the Second World War here...

Although a very immediate action this was not the complete end of the Wall and what it signified… see here for the aftermath of the fall and how eventually Germany became unified again...

© Crown copyright. IWM (HU 73009)  East and West Germans celebrate the lifting of travel restrictions on East Germans on a graffiti covered section of the Berlin Wall in front of the Brandenburg gate, November 1989.

© Crown copyright. IWM (HU 73009)

East and West Germans celebrate the lifting of travel restrictions on East Germans on a graffiti covered section of the Berlin Wall in front of the Brandenburg gate, November 1989.


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DID YOU KNOW...?

The fall of the Berlin Wall was the first step towards German reunification. However Germany was not reunited until 3rd October 1990, over 11 months after the fall of the Berlin Wall.