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In Photos: 25 years ago today the Berlin Wall fell

It signalled the end of the Soviet Union, which would eventually dissolve in 1991.

Source: No Comment TV/YouTube

THIS DAY 25 years ago saw the fall, metaphorically at least, of the Berlin Wall.

The date on which the wall fell is considered to be 9 November 1989, but its physical removal took some time. On 13 June 1990, the official dismantling of the wall by the East German military began. It was completed in 1992.

East German soldiers began erecting the wall in August 1961. It would divide East and West Berlin for almost three decades.

The move was condemned by the West, US Secretary of State Dean Rusk called it a “flagrant violation” of East-West relations. The structure blocked off an escape route for many refugees who were attempting to escape the Communist regime of the East.

Germany Wall Anniversary Source: AP/Press Association Images

This photo was taken on 13 August 1961 – the day the building of the wall commenced – and shows members of the East German military removing paving blocks on Friedrich Street in the east of the city.

Source: British Pathé/YouTube

The Wall was 12 feet high and some 96 miles long.

Estimates of the number of people who died trying to cross the wall vary. It is believed to have been in the region of 200. Some were caught in the barbed wire or fell, while others were shot dead by soldiers.

Germany Berlin Wall Border Guards Source: AP Photo/Fritz Reiss

East German National People’s Army soldiers man an unfinished part of the Berlin Wall on 18 August 1961.

Germany Berlin Wall Police at the Brandenburg Gate Source: AP Photo/Werner Kreusch

West German police wearing British machine guns in front of the Brandenburg Gate on 23 October 1961. 

Sinatra Treaty

A culmination of events led to the wall’s collapse.

In 1989 the Soviet Union loosened its grip on neighbouring Warsaw Pact nations – countries on the eastern side of the Iron Curtain, which included East Germany – when it introduced the Sinatra Doctrine.

The document, which allowed the countries to determine their own internal affairs, was so-called in a nod to the Frank Sinatra song My Way. Soviet Foreign Ministry spokesman Gennadi Gerasimov coined the phrase.

It represented a major change from the earlier Brezhnev Doctrine, under which the internal affairs of satellite states were tightly controlled by Moscow.

Berlin Wall Source: Dieter Endlicher/AP/Press Association Images

Two women embrace at the Oberbaumbrucke crossing. The Berlin Wall was opened temporarily at various checkpoints on 31 March 1972 to allow East and West Berlin residents to reunite.  

Berlin Wall Source: AP/Press Association Images

A section of the Berlin Wall, warning people they are now leaving West Berlin, pictured on 6 August 1974.

BERLIN STALLONE VISIT Source: Elke Bruhn-Hoffmann/AP/Press Association Images

Sylvester Stallone embraces East Berlin nurse Liane Suendermann at West Berlin’s Checkpoint Charlie on 9 June 1988. Suendermann escaped from East Berlin to the West on 27 May by hiding in a passenger seat of a Mini car.

PA-8625437 Source: AP/Press Association Images

During ceremonies marking the 40th anniversary of East Germany, Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev (left) kisses East German leader Erich Honecker at Schoenfeld Airport in East Berlin on  6 October 1989. The photo was taken shortly before Henecker was forced out of power, and a month before the fall of the Berlin Wall. 

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The ‘revolutions of 1989′ that took place in Warsaw Pact countries led to Hungary opening its border with Austria and destabilising East Germany in the process.

In 1990, East Germany (or the German Democratic Republic) joined West Germany (the Federal Republic of Germany. The Soviet Union dissolved in 1991.

MAUER101 Source: AP/Press Association Images

East Berliners get helping hands from West Berliners as they climb the Berlin Wall, early on Friday morning, 10 November 1989.  

Politics - Berlin Wall Source: Jockel Finck/AP/Press Association Images

A man chisels a piece of the wall on 10 November 1989.

FALL OF BERLIN WALL Source: AP/Press Association Images

A man hits the wall with a sledgehammer on 12 November 1989.

Politics - Berlin Wall Source: Hansjoerg Krauss/AP/Press Association Images

Young East Berliners shout for joy as they run into West Berlin through an opening in the Berlin Wall on 23 December 1989. The new East German Government had promised to fully open the gate by Christmas of that year. 

Germany Wall Anniversary Source: Herbert Knosowski/AP/Press Association Images

Dominoes symbolising the Berlin Wall sit on the ground after falling in front of the Brandenburg Gate on 9 November 2009, during the commemorations of the 20th anniversary of the fall.

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About the author:

Órla Ryan

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