The Berlin Wall (Berliner Mauer) was a separation barrier between East and West Germany, which divided Berlin for 28 years.
The Wall’s construction begun on August 13 1961 (funny, exactly 10 years before I was born) by the East German communist regime, as an “Anti-Fascist Protective Rampart”, and became an iconic symbol of the cold war.
There was an explicit shoot-to-kill order for attempting to escape to the West by going over the Wall, and some 125 people overall were killed trying.
On November 9 1989, after several months of severe protests, the East German government announced a change in policy, and allowed East Germans to cross the border to the West. In what was later called “The Peaceful Revolution”, thousands of people from both sides of Berlin celebrated the news, climbing over the Wall and chipping parts of it (the remains are still sold as souvenirs 18 years later).
The fall of the wall was the first step in the reunification of Germany, which was concluded on October 1990.
Little is left of the original Wall today. There’s an 80 meter piece near Potsdamer Platz; the 1,300 meter part at Friedrichshain, called “East Side Gallery”, was turned into a fabulous artistic memorial by a group of artists; and a part at the northern Bernauer Straße, which was declared an official memorial in 1999.
Some smaller parts are scattered all over Berlin, and in many places outside Germany, usually near important institutes. Among these are the EU Parliament in Belgium; the European Court of Human Rights in France; Freedom Park, Arlington, Virginia, USA; and some 30 other places. Here’s a complete list of Berlin Wall portions.
Here are some examples from our East-Side Gallery photo page.
Other Berlin Wall resources:
Berlin Wall’s East-Side Gallery official site
Berlin Wall Shop T-shirts, gifts and apparels at CafePress.
Berlin Wall Zoomified panoramic view of theEast-Side Gallery.
Berlin wall Love Story extra information and some old photos.
Berlin Wall Organic Cotton T-shirt with East-Side Gallery photos.