Today is the 20th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall.
November 9, 1989 marked the end of an era and a new beginning for millions of Germans, who had been separated from their countrymen for nearly three decades by boundaries both tangible and intangible.
The original Wall was a far cry from the approximately 90-mile long concrete leviathan of 1989, parts of which still survive today. The original wall was merely a wire fence that went up virtually overnight in August 1961. The Wall served to stop the population drain from East Berlin, as residents of the Soviet sector moved to the West. An estimated 2.5 million people emigrated from East Germany during the 1950s.
“On what became known as “Barbed Wire Sunday,” some awoke to find themselves suddenly trapped in the Soviet sectors, separated overnight from families, friends and loved ones who happened to live on the other side of the Wall.”
In 1962 the wire fence was enhanced. In 1965 authorities erected a concrete wall, which got its final major makeover in 1975.
The Wall symbolized the isolation of East Germany under Soviet control, and its fall on November 9, 1989 symbolized a new freedom for millions of East Germans.
Tim, a Berlin resident who was 8 when the wall came down, learned about capitalism at an early age. He earned money for his first bicycle by selling pieces of the Berlin Wall to tourists. When asked if people ever sold random pieces of concrete pretending they were from the Wall, he replied, “There was so much Wall, you didn’t need to. The supply was endless.”