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

The Fall of the Berlin Wall: A Historic Turning Point

by | Mar 7, 2024 | Original Berlin

The fall of the Berlin Wall is a pivotal moment in history that symbolized the end of the Cold War and the reunification of East and West Germany. This monumental event took place on November 9, 1989, and its impact is still felt today. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind the fall of the Berlin Wall and the series of events that led up to it.

The Background: Divided Germany

After World War II, Germany was divided into two separate countries: the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) and the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). The division was a result of political disagreements and tensions between the Western Allies and the Soviet Union, who occupied different parts of Germany.

East Germany, under Soviet influence, saw rapid industrialization but suffered from economic challenges, political repression, and limited personal freedom. Meanwhile, West Germany thrived, becoming an economic powerhouse and embracing democratic principles.

Escalating Tensions

As the Cold War intensified, so did the tensions between East and West Germany. The contrasting ideologies, economic disparities, and ideological conflicts between communism and capitalism made the Berlin Wall an unfortunate reality.

The Berlin Wall was constructed in 1961 by the East German government to prevent its citizens from fleeing to the more prosperous West. It was a physical barrier, fortified with barbed wire, guard towers, and armed guards. The wall extended over 155 kilometers, separating families, friends, and communities.

The Factors That Led to the Fall

1. Economic Pressures

By the 1980s, the economic situation in East Germany had deteriorated significantly. The centrally planned economy was unable to compete with the prosperous free-market economy of West Germany. Citizens of East Germany faced shortages of basic goods and limited opportunities for personal advancement.

Eastern Europeans were increasingly aware of the economic disparity between East and West. They witnessed the success of West Germany and were no longer willing to accept their disadvantaged position. People longed for better living conditions, personal freedom, and the opportunities that the West had to offer.

2. Political Reforms in the USSR

In the mid-1980s, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev introduced a series of political reforms known as “glasnost” (openness) and “perestroika” (restructuring). These reforms aimed to improve the Soviet Union’s economy and political system.

Gorbachev’s reforms had a ripple effect on the satellite states under Soviet influence, including East Germany. The desire for political freedom and democratic reforms grew stronger in East Germany as citizens became emboldened by the winds of change sweeping across the Soviet Union.

3. Mass Protests and Dissent

By the late 1980s, mass protests against the East German government began to intensify. Pro-democracy activists, intellectuals, and ordinary citizens took to the streets, demanding change and an end to the oppressive regime.

One of the most significant protests took place in Leipzig, East Germany, in October 1989. The demonstration attracted an estimated 70,000 people and marked a turning point in the peaceful revolution. The protest was met with a restrained response from the authorities, which emboldened the protesters and weakened the government’s hold on power.

4. Internal Struggles within East Germany

The East German government began facing internal struggles. The ruling Socialist Unity Party (SED), under pressure from the deteriorating economic conditions and mass protests, started losing its grip on power. The party was divided, with some members opposing the hardline policies of the government.

Leaders like Egon Krenz pushed for political reform and a more moderate approach. These internal divisions weakened the government’s ability to suppress dissent and maintain control, further fueling the momentum for change.

The Spark That Ignited Change: The Mistaken Press Conference

The fall of the Berlin Wall was catalyzed by a series of missteps and misunderstanding. On November 9, 1989, Günter Schabowski, a member of the East German Politburo, mistakenly announced during a live press conference that citizens would be granted the right to travel freely and cross the border.

The news spread like wildfire, and thousands of East Germans descended upon the border crossings, demanding to be let through. The border guards, unprepared and overwhelmed, faced a critical decision. Faced with an escalating situation, they finally relented and allowed the crowds to pass. This moment marked a historic turning point.

The Aftermath: Reunification and Hope

The fall of the Berlin Wall opened the floodgates for change. East and West Germans came together to celebrate their newfound freedom and embraced the opportunity for reunification.

Over the next year, negotiations between East and West German officials paved the way for reunification. On October 3, 1990, the German Democratic Republic officially joined the Federal Republic of Germany, and Germany became a unified country once again.

The fall of the Berlin Wall symbolized the triumph of democracy, the rejection of oppressive regimes, and the power of citizen movements. It served as a beacon of hope and inspiration for people around the world who longed for freedom and the end of division.


The fall of the Berlin Wall was a pivotal moment in history that marked the end of an era and the beginning of a new one. Economic pressures, political reforms, mass protests, internal struggles, and a series of coincidences culminated in this momentous event.

Today, the remnants of the Berlin Wall serve as a reminder of the power of unity, perseverance, and the unwavering desire for freedom. The fall of the Berlin Wall not only changed the course of German history but also had a profound impact on the world.

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