Free Walking Tour Berlin

When: Every day 10am & 12pm every day
Where: The meeting point is in front of the ehemaliges Kaiserliches Postfuhramt Berlin, Oranienburger Straße, 10117 Berlin, Germany, next to the entrance.
Price: Free

A Tale of Division and Reunion: The Rise and Fall of the Berlin Wall

by | Mar 7, 2024 | Original Berlin

When it comes to significant historical events of the 20th century, the construction and subsequent fall of the Berlin Wall remains a defining moment. This imposing symbol of division between East and West Berlin came to represent the stark contrast between two opposing ideological systems – capitalism and communism. Let’s explore the timeline of when the Berlin Wall went up and came down, shedding light on its historical context, construction, consequences, and eventual reunification.

1. The Construction of the Berlin Wall

On August 13, 1961, the German Democratic Republic (GDR), also known as East Germany, suddenly erected the Berlin Wall overnight. The decision was a response to the alarming number of people fleeing from East to West Berlin, seeking refuge and a better life under the threat of Soviet control. The wall’s construction was meant to reinforce the GDR’s authority and prevent further migration.

Barbed wire fences, guard towers, and concrete barriers formed an extensive and imposing physical barrier spanning approximately 96 miles (155 kilometers) and cutting through the heart of Berlin. Over the years, the wall would be fortified and expanded, making escape even more challenging for East Berliners who wished to cross the border.

2. Living in the Shadow of the Wall

The Berlin Wall had an immediate impact on the lives of Berliners, particularly those living in neighborhoods directly divided by the physical barrier. Families and friends found themselves separated, unable to freely visit or communicate with their loved ones on the other side.

Checkpoint Charlie, one of the most renowned border crossings, became a grim symbol of segregation. Passing through required meticulous inspections, with guards scrutinizing documents and often restricting movement. The wall transformed Berlin into a city marred by division, sorrow, and hopelessness for over 28 years.

2.1 The Death Strip

Adjacent to the Berlin Wall lay the notorious “death strip,” a path of land that separated the inner and outer walls. This area served as a buffer zone for East German border guards, equipped with orders to shoot anyone attempting to escape to the West. The tales of individuals risking their lives and the tragic casualties within this formidable strip only added to the horrors of the divided city.

3. The Catalysts for Change

As the years passed, dissatisfaction with the oppressive regime in East Germany grew. This sentiment was fueled by events both within and beyond Berlin’s borders.

The 1989 wave of political reform sweeping across Eastern Europe, including the fall of the Iron Curtain countries, created an atmosphere of change and liberation that proved contagious. Civil unrest surged, with peaceful protests demanding freedom and the end of one-party rule. These events further weakened the already fragile foundations of the GDR.

4. The Fall of the Berlin Wall

The pivotal moment that signaled the beginning of the end for the Berlin Wall came on November 9, 1989. In response to growing pressure from protesters, the East German government announced that its citizens could travel to the West freely. This announcement was intended as a temporary easing of travel restrictions, but the news set off a chain of events that would lead to the wall’s fall.

Thousands of people flocked to the checkpoints at the Berlin Wall that very night, demanding passage to the other side. East German border guards initially struggled to contain the crowd, until finally, the gates were opened. The East German government had effectively lost control, and citizen-driven dismantling of the wall began.

4.1 The Joyous Reunion of a Divided City

The scenes of celebration and unity in the wake of the wall’s fall were indelible. People climbed the wall, embraced strangers from the other side, and marked this transformative moment in history. The fall of the Berlin Wall not only reunited families and friends but also symbolized the end of the Cold War era and the dawn of a new Germany.

5. The Aftermath and Reunification

The fall of the Berlin Wall paved the way for the reunification of East and West Germany. On October 3, 1990, almost a year after the wall’s fall, the German Democratic Republic ceased to exist, and the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) was extended to encompass the former East German territories.

The process of reunification was complex, requiring significant economic, political, and social adjustments. East Germany faced numerous challenges, including a struggling economy and disparities between the living standards of its citizens and those in the West. However, the reunification eventually led to the gradual integration of the two sides and the collective rebuilding of a unified Germany.

5.1 Memorials and Reminders

Today, remnants of the Berlin Wall stand as powerful reminders of a divided city and a divided world. The Berlin Wall Memorial, situated at Bernauer Strasse, provides insights into the history of the wall and commemorates the countless lives affected by its presence. Additionally, sections of the wall can be found in various locations worldwide, serving as poignant artistic expressions and reminders to never forget the enduring human desire for freedom.


The story of the Berlin Wall is both a cautionary tale of the consequences of division and an inspiring testament to the resilience and yearning for unity among the human spirit. Between its sudden construction and its victorious fall, the Berlin Wall served as a tangible symbol of the ideological divide that dominated the latter half of the 20th century. Its ultimate demise signified not only the reunification of a city but also the triumph of freedom over oppression.

Thank you for reading. If you're inspired by the stories of Berlin and want to delve deeper, why not join us on our Free Berlin Walking Tour? It's a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the city's rich history and vibrant culture. We look forward to welcoming you soon.


  • 3.5 hours walking tour
  • Berlin’s major highlights
  • Brandenburg Gate
  • Reichstag and Berlin Wall
  • Historical sites

Free Walking Tour Berlin

When: Every day 10am & 12pm every day
Where: The meeting point is in front of the ehemaliges Kaiserliches Postfuhramt Berlin, Oranienburger Straße, 10117 Berlin, Germany, next to the entrance.
Price: Free