On August 15, 1961, two days after sealing off the free passage between East and West Berlin with barbed wire, East German authorities began building an enormous wall, later to become known as the Berlin Wall, with the objective of permanently blocking access to the West. For the next 28 years, the fortified Berlin Wall would be the most tangible symbol of the Cold War.

During the rest of 1961, the Berlin Wall continued to grow in size and, in some places, consisted of a series of concrete walls up to 15 meters high. They were covered with barbed wire and guarded by turrets, machine guns and mines.

In the 1980s, this system of electrified walls and fences stretched 45 kilometers through Berlin and 120 kilometers around West Berlin, separating it from the rest of East Germany. The Germans also erected an extensive barrier along the more than 1,300 km border between East and West Germany.

The fall of the Berlin Wall

The Belim wall was torn down in 1990

In 1989, East Germany's communist regime was crushed by the democratization that swept across Eastern Europe. On the night of November 9, 1989, East Germany announced an easing of restrictions on travel to the West, and thousands of people demanded passage through the Berlin Wall. Faced with mounting demonstrations, East German border guards opened the borders. In 1990, East and West Germany were formally reunited.