• The Berlin Wall came tumbling down on November 9, 1989, reuniting East and West Germany, and foreshadowing the fall of the Soviet Union.
  • It stood for 28 years to separate the two sides of Berlin and the two sides of Germany.
  • The night it fell – by accident – people stormed from East to West Berlin, and photos from that night show gleeful reunions and celebrations.
  • Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.

The Berlin Wall was built in 1961 to divide East and West Berlin. Constructed by the eastern, Soviet-ruled portion of the city, the wall was meant to keep Western “fascists” from invading the East – but it also served as a barricade to those Easterners attempting to migrate to the West, capitalist territory.

The barbed-wire-topped wall divided families and took away basic human rights, keeping the population of East Berlin trapped inside Soviet territory. At 12 feet tall and 4 feet wide, the wall and its surrounding security systems were known as “The Death Strip,” as nearly 100 people were killed in their attempt to cross its miles of trenches and trip-wire machine guns.

On November 9, 1989, it was announced by the East German Communist Party that citizens of the German Democratic Republic, or East Germany, could cross the border whenever they pleased. That night, mayhem ensued at the border. Many who lived in the East crossed freely to the West for the first time in nearly 30 years, and citizens even began chipping away at the wall.

We’ve compiled Reuters images from that infamous night and the nights that followed as the Berlin Wall finally came crashing down.


East German soldiers act as a barricade, blocking West Berliners waiting to welcome East Berlin citizens at the Allied guardhouse “Checkpoint Charlie” November 9, 1989.

Foto: sourceFabrizio Bensch

When the clock struck midnight, all the checkpoints along the wall opened.

Lees ook op Business Insider

Foto: sourceFabrizio Bensch

Berliners carried hammers and chisels to begin chipping away at the wall.

Foto: sourceFabrizio Bensch

Both East and West German citizens celebrated as they climbed the wall at the Brandenburg Gate.

Foto: sourceFabrizio Bensch

While in the past those trying to cross the border would resort to digging tunnels, leaping out of buildings that lined the border, or attempting to drive through, on November 9, West German citizens climbed freely atop the Berlin Wall.

Foto: sourceFabrizio Bensch

East Germans celebrated as they climbed the Berlin Wall at the Brandenburg Gate.

Foto: sourceStr Old

West Germans applauded as East Berlin citizens traveled through Checkpoint Charlie on the following day, November 10.

Foto: sourceSTR New

There was plenty of celebration as West Berlin citizens welcomed East Germans as they passed the border checkpoint.

Foto: sourceFabrizio Bensch

People embraced friends they hadn’t seen in years.

Foto: In this Nov. 10, 1989, file photo, two men from West and East Germany meet again and embrace each other after the arrival of a special train from Magdeburg at Helmstedt railway station.sourceAP Photo/Claus Eckert, File

West Berlin citizens continued to stand atop the Berlin Wall at the Brandenburg Gate November 10.

Foto: sourceSTR New

Looking out onto a sea of thousands, East Berlin border guards stood atop the Berlin Wall at the Brandenburg Gate November 11.

Foto: sourceStr Old

Some East German border policemen didn’t know how to react.

Foto: East German border policemen, right, refuse to shake hands with a Berliner who stretches out his hand over the border fence at the eastern site nearby Checkpoint Charlie border crossing point, in this Nov. 10, 1989 file photo, after the borders were opened according to the announcement by the East German government.sourceAP Photo/Lutz Schmidt

By November 12, it was no longer only small hammers being used to deconstruct the wall. Here, an East German bulldozer and crane knock down the Berlin Wall at Potsdamer Platz.

Foto: sourceWolfgang Rattay

East Berliners cross and meet West Berliners at Potsdamer Platz after the Berlin Wall was torn down at this checkpoint November 12. Over 2 million people from East Berlin visited West Berlin just that weekend.

Foto: sourceWolfgang Rattay

Parts of the Berlin Wall were loaded onto trucks at Potsdam Platz by November 14.

Foto: sourceWolfgang Rattay

Thousands walked along the Berlin Wall between Potsdamer Platz and the Brandenburg Gate November 18.

Foto: sourceReuters Photographer

Even days later, citizens wanted to participate in the destruction. Here, a young West German girl hammers the Berlin Wall November 19.

Foto: sourceMichael Urban

Another section of the Berlin Wall was dismantled by East Germany near the Brandenburg Gate December 22.

Foto: sourceFabrizio Bensch

This flag, reading “Unity,” was waved high as these Germans crossed the newly opened border December 22.

Foto: sourceFabrizio Bensch

Into the following year, 1990, citizens still wanted their own piece of the Berlin Wall. Here, a man hammers away at Checkpoint Charlie June 2, 1990.

Foto: sourceFabrizio Bensch

Many took souvenirs of the wall, and pieces of its graffitied facade can now be found all over the world.

Foto: In this Nov. 10, 1989, file photo, two men proudly show off bricks of the Berlin Wall they found near Brandenburg Gate in Berlin after the opening of the East German border to the West.sourceAP Photo/Udo Weitz, File