It is already thirty years as the Berlin Wall fell down (9 November 1989), an event that for many of us was the symbolic end of the so-called Cold War and the beginning of the German unification that took place a year after in 1990 on October the 3rd.
A small piece of the Berlin Wall with a graffiti portraying JFK.
“Ich bin ein Berliner” (I am a Berlin citizen) were the famous words spoken 1963 by the American president John F Kennedy in West Berlin. The gesture and the whole speech were considered a response to the erection of the Berlin Wall.
After World War II, the allied forces divided Germany into two parts: Western Germany protected by the Western allies, including the US, UK and France, and Eastern Germany protected by Soviet Russia. Berlin was located in Eastern Germany. A part of the city belonged, however, to Western Germany. Many Germans from the Eastern part omitted the emigration laws and via West Berlin, crossed the East-Western border. To stop the procedure, 1961, the Eastern Germany authorities erected a wall around West Berlin. The war was heavily guarded. People lost their lives as they attempted to cross the wall shot by the guards.
As the countries of the Eastern Block led by Poland and Hungary (countries that after World War II were assigned to the Soviet Russia protectorate) started in 1989 their final march towards independence, the Berlin citizens did it, as well. A couple of weeks earlier, Eastern Germans started to claim asylum in West German embassies in Hungary, (former) Czechoslovakia and Poland. The events were broadcasted throughout Europe. I can still remember sitting with my mom in front of a TV set and following the news as trains with Eastern Germans from the embassy in Hungary were allowed to trespass the border to Western Germany. Historians would have probably a more sophisticated explanation. Still, as far as I can recall, the public pressure from inside and outside the country was that hard that the Eastern Germany authorities had to give in. They decided to lessen the border crossing procedures. The new regulations were announced on the 9th of November. The same evening crowds gathered at both sides of the Wall. Spontaneously, some people started to dismantle it. And … it just happened. The border was open.
Before the bulldozers were officially brought in to dismantle the wall, many of its pieces were taken by people as souvenirs.