“Mister Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

-Ronald Reagan

The fall of the Berlin Wall was only one of a long chain of events, both peaceful and terribly violent, that marked the end of Soviet-supported dictatorships in Eastern Europe. From what seemed to be a state of permanent Cold War, one by one the Eastern European countries discarded their dictators.

The Berlin Wall was built by the German Democratic Republic during the Cold War to prevent its population from escaping Soviet-controlled East Berlin to West Berlin, which was controlled by the major Western Allies. It divided the city of Berlin into two physically and ideologically contrasting zones. It was very heavily guarded. The “death strip” was land between the two main barriers of the Berlin Wall. It was constantly under surveillance by guards in watchtowers, who could shoot anyone they saw trying to escape. Fleeing citizens who initially avoided being detected or shot could be tracked down by following their footprints in the death strip.

The Berlin Wall was brought down on November 9, 1989, following anti-government protests in East Germany and the democratization of other European states. Sections of the Berlin Wall were subsequently torn down by East German border guard crews and residents of a reunified Berlin.