The Berlin Wall: 28 years up, 28 years fallen
From 1961 to 1989 the Berlin Wall divided a city and the world. February 5, 2018 marks the date on which the Wall will have been down for as long as it once stood: 28 years, 2 months and 27 days, to be exact.
1961: The Wall goes up
On August 13, 1961, the East German Democratic Republic began cordoning off the Soviet sector in Berlin. All communication between East and West was cut off. In the following weeks the concrete wall began to rise, as can be seen in the above photo taken in Zimmerstrasse in the Kreuzberg neighborhood. Barbed wire crowned the wall to prevent people from climbing over the top.
1962: An icon behind barbed wire
The division of Berlin also split the world into East and West. The "Iron Curtain" had finally been drawn closed. Spouses, relatives, friends were brutally torn apart from one another. The communists' name for the wall, the "anti-fascist protection barrier," was a misnomer, however, since the barrier's true purpose was not to keep intruders out but to prevent those in the East from fleeing.
1962: Early victim at the Wall
A good year after the construction of the Berlin Wall, 18-year-old Peter Fechter tried to climb over it. After reaching the top, GDR soldiers shot him. He fell down on the East Berlin side, where he lay for nearly an hour begging for help in the "death strip." Border patrols eventually picked up the wounded man, who died later in the afternoon. The world was horrified.
1963: A symbol of hope
US President John F. Kennedy visited Berlin on June 26, 1963, sweeping his gaze across the Wall and the death strip. During his speech, he made the legendary statement: "Ich bin ein Berliner." He stressed that the US would not allow West Berlin to fall in the hands of the Soviet Union.
1965: Deadly no-man's-land
Between the Brandenburg Gate and Potsdamer Platz, a no-man's-land with various barriers evolved which would define the appearance of the border area during the first decade of the Wall. It was a maze of fencing, barbed wire, heavy-duty vehicles and wooden watchtowers.
1973: Scared stiff on both sides
The East, with its death strip, but also West Berlin were marked by the Wall, particularly the city districts directly adjacent to the border sectors. In the shadows of the Wall, run-down, abandoned areas and open stretches of land developed and became makeshift parking lots, trash dumps or wild gardens. Children would play there, and artists and activists would use the grounds for activities.
1976: A new kind of Wall
Beginning in 1975, the Wall became much more massive, with the so-called "Grenzmauer" (Border Wall) measuring 3.6 meters (11.8 feet) in height. Here, a group of builders fills in the cracks between the newly installed concrete segments while a crane manages the round elements atop the wall. Border patrols monitor the construction, while a US military policeman watches the spectacle from the West.
1984: White-washed monster
The white-washed side of the Wall marks the beginning of the border strip from the East, while St. Thomas Church in the background is located in the West. But surveillance by the Stasi, border patrols and police began far in front of the Wall. A permission slip was required to enter the area.
1987: Clear demand
US President Ronald Reagan visited Berlin in June 1987, giving a speech in front of the Brandenburg Gate on the West Berlin side with the famous words: "Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Tear down this wall!" Some 40,000 people cheered. Over a year before, then-Soviet leader Gorbachev had initiated his policies of "glasnost" (openness) and "perestroika" (restructuring).
1989: An image of Freedom that went around the world
It was ultimately those who were locked in whose peaceful struggle for freedom eventually paid off. November 9, 1989 was a day that went down in history: the fall of the Berlin Wall. At least 101 people lost their lives at the Wall trying to escape the GDR between 1961 and 1989. But not a single drop of blood was shed when it finally opened up.
1990: The work of the "Wall woodpeckers"
Chris Gueffroy, aged 20, was the last refugee to be shot at the Berlin Wall, nine months before it fell. By 1990 "Wall woodpeckers" had done their work, opening up the Wall bit by bit, with border patrols now letting families pass through.
In June 1990, work got underway to tear down the various elements of the Wall and the accompanying barrier constructions. Remnants of the Wall were broken down and even shredded, and then used for building city streets.
2014: Light shines where darkness once stood
By 2014 very little of the Berlin Wall remained in its original location, and few people knew where it once stood. Maybe that's why the 2014 installation entitled "Lichtgrenze" (Light Border) was so popular. The temporary project by sibling artists Christopher and Marc Bauder featured 6,880 light "balloons" marking a 15.3-kilometer-long (9.5 miles) path where part of the Wall once stood.
2018: East Side Gallery as a monument
The "East Side Gallery" is at 1,316 meters (4,318 feet) the longest stretch of the Berlin Wall remaining. After the Wall opened up, 118 artists from 21 countries painted it in spring 1990. It draws hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Once it becomes part of the Stiftung Berliner Mauer (Berlin Wall Foundation) as planned, there will also be an information center.
2018: 'Berlin with and without the Wall'
Many of the photos in this gallery are also being shown in a special exhibition presented by the Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer (Berlin Wall Memorial). The show runs from February 6 to August 15, 2018 at the visitor center in the city's Bernauer Street. Many of the photos have never been shown before, and there is one for each year between 1961 and 2018: Berlin — with and without the Wall.