Germans in Berlin celebrated a unique milestone in connection to the fall of the Berlin Wall. The wall, which once divided the German capital and was one of the most powerful symbols of the Cold War, has now been gone longer than it has existed.
Monday marked the date that the wall had been down for as long as it stood, which was exactly 28 years, 2 months, and 27 days. The wall physically and ideologically divided Berlin from August 1961 to November 1989, when the wall was dismantled during the fall of the Soviet empire.
The wall was built by the communist government of East Germany in 1961 in order to prevent the rush of refugees attempting to leave East Berlin. The divider separated East and West Berlin, while completely walling off West Berlin from the rest of the surrounding East Germany territory.
The 96-mile long, 12-foot high wall was lined with more than 300 watchtowers and guard posts and 20 bunkers. It was equipped with alarms and vehicle traps, and it was guarded by thousands of soldiers and guard dogs.
Despite the high security, people from East Berlin continued to attempt to cross to West Berlin in order to escape the Soviet-controlled government. It is believed that over 5,000 refugees were able to successfully cross the wall into West Germany, while more than 130 people died in the attempt.
The number of East German residents wanting to leave for the West continued to grow even with the wall put up, paving way for the peaceful revolution of 1989 in Berlin, where thousands of people protested against the communist government. This eventually led to the dismantling of the wall on Nov. 9, 1989.
Although many parts of the wall have been dismantled to allow passage of people between East and West Berlin, a large portion of the wall still stands as a tourist attraction, and as a monument commemorating the reunification of Berlin.