The Day The Berlin Wall Fell 30 Years Ago

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DW: The day the Berlin Wall came down

The Cold War, a global power struggle between dictatorship and democracy, ended in Berlin on November 9, 1989. The course of history, however, was set in motion by decisive events outside the country long before that.

It was the global symbol of the division between East and West, for the battle between communism and capitalism: the Berlin Wall, erected by the dictatorship of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), better known as East Germany, in 1961.

Surrounded by a 155-kilometer-long (96.3-mile-long) guarded border of concrete and barbed wire, citizens in the Berlin’s West sector lived in an island of freedom in the middle of the communist GDR. And over the decades, many East Germans looked to the unreachable West in desperate longing, hoping they might one day escape.


Update: In Pictures: World leaders mark 30th anniversary of the day Berlin Wall fell (Daily Mail/Press Association)

WNU Editor: I just started working for the UN at their ICAO division in Montreal in the fall of 1989. I will never forget that time. My Soviet colleagues were all doom and gloom, and they would not talk among themselves on what was happening. At the end of the day I would always rush to the lounge area where the day’s newspapers were always hanging around. I found the New York Times coverage of the events mesmerizing and a must read. I personally was very worried on what was happening. I knew that the leadership in Moscow wanted to do something. They were of the same generation as my father …. veterans of the Second World War …. and they did not want reunification to happen. The Chinese crackdown at Tienanmen Square had happened only a few months before, and the same type of response was being debated in Moscow. Fortunately Gorbachev made sure that a Soviet military response did not happen, but I always sense it was a touch and go situation. I also personally wished that I was in Berlin at the time. I knew history was being made, and I wanted to be a part of it. But it was not to be. A few years later I did visit Berlin, standing in a place where people were shot just a few years ago. To say that it was all surreal to me is an understatement. It still is.

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