The Berlin Wall, 25 Years After the Fall

This weekend, Germany will observe the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The German Democratic Republic (East Germany) began erecting the barrier in 1961, building on existing checkpoints, and fortified it over nearly 30 years: The initial waist-high wooden gates gave way to massive concrete structures with buffer zones known as "death strips." The Berlin Wall was intended to halt the steady stream of defections from the Eastern Bloc; during its existence, only about 5,000 people managed to cross over, escaping into West Berlin. More than 100 are believed to have been killed in the attempt, most shot by East German border guards. In 1989, waves of protest in East Berlin and a flood of defections through neighboring Hungary and Czechoslovakia led the government to finally allow free passage across the border. West German citizens swarmed the wall, pulling parts of it down with hammers and machinery, an act that set the stage for Germany's reunification.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Chip Somodevilla / Getty

    Photos of the Week: Ice Castles, Northern Lights, Inauguration Fireworks

    Fashion Week in Berlin, the departure of former President Donald Trump, bull-taming in India, a snow-covered Great Wall in China, diploma artwork in New York City, and much more

  • Andrew Harnik / AFP / Getty

    Photos: The Inauguration of President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

    Scenes from a unique moment in American history

  • Samuel Corum / Getty

    An Inauguration Like No Other

    Rehearsals and preparations are underway for the upcoming inaugural ceremony of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President–elect Kamala Harris.

  • David Delgado / Reuters

    Photos: A Little Midwinter Fun and Beauty

    Recent images of people across the Northern Hemisphere enjoying themselves in the middle of this winter