Illuminations mark 25th anniversary since fall of Berlin Wall

People ride bicycles under stands with balloons placed along the former Berlin Wall Credit: Reuters

Sunday marks 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, which divided a nation for almost three decades.

The Berlin Wall, which separated the island of West Berlin from the communist East after it was built in August 13, 1961, was the most potent symbol of the Cold War.

At least 138 people were killed or died at the Wall, most of them while trying to escape.

Did you know:

  • November 1960:

The total length was 96 miles (155 kilometres), of which 27 miles ran roughly north-south, cleaving Berlin in two, while another 69.5 miles isolated the enclave of West Berlin from the surrounding East German state.

The concrete pillars reached as high as 3.6 metres and weighed a staggering 2.6 tonnes.

  • September 1961:

The No Man's Land or the "death strip" was the area between the two Germanys.

In the inner city the border consisted of an actual concrete wall, the one most commonly recognised as the Berlin Wall.

Around the outer edges of the city the border was marked mainly by fences, watch towers and an empty strip of "No Man's Land."

Citizens of West Berlin wave across the Berlin Wall to friends and relatives in East Berlin on 10 September 1961. Credit: /DPA/Press Association Images

Over 100,000 citizens of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) tried to escape across the inner-German border or the Berlin Wall between 1961 and 1988.

  • June 1963:

During his German trip from June 23 to 26, US President John F. Kennedy visited West Berlin on June 26.

He told a rally at the Schöneberg Town Hall:

All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words: Ich bin ein Berliner.

John F. Kennedy
US president John F. Kennedy at a view point at the Berlin wall on 26 June 1963. Credit: dpa Fotografen/DPA/Press Association Images
  • December 1963:

Berlin Wall became more passable after the pass agreement of December 17, 1963, some 28 months after the building of the Wall.

Citizens of West Berlin could again visit their relatives for the first time around Christmas time. Around 1.2 million visits from 700,000 inhabitants of West Berlin resulted from this.

After the building of the Wall, thousands of citizens from West Berlin walk over Osterbaum bridge on 25 December 1963 Credit: Association Images
  • June 1987:

During the 750-year celebrations in West Berlin, US President Ronald Reagan said in a speech at the Brandenburg Gate:

General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and eastern Europe, if you seek liberalisation, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

Ronald Reagan
Former American President Ronald Reagan (C) speaking at the Berlin Wall in front of the Brandenburg Gate Credit: Dieter Klar/DPA/Press Association Images
  • November 1989:

Momentous images of emotional Germans from the East surging through the newly opened border stunned the world in 1989 and a year later, the wall officially came down.

West Berlin citizens continue their vigil atop the Berlin Wall in front of the Brandenburg Gate, November 10, 1989. Credit: Reuters
An East German bulldozer and crane knock down the Berlin Wall at Potsdamer Platz to make way for a new border crossing Credit: Reuters
Young men run cheering through a border crossing station in Berlin, Germany, 10 Novermber 1989. Credit: DPA/Press Association Images
  • October 1990:

Although November 9, 1989 is recognised as the date of the fall of the Berlin Wall, official demolition of it did not start until June 13 1990.

Border controls still existed between November 9 and June 13, although were less strict that previously.

Two young people from East Berlin celebrate the immininent German reunification with a GDR flag in Berlin Credit: ZB Bauer/DPA/Press Association Images

Parts of the wall was chipped away by Germans to keep as souvenirs or be sold. People who did this were known as "wall woodpeckers" (Mauerspechte).

All border controls ended on July 1, 1990 and Germany was recognised as one country again from October 3, 1990.

US singer and actor David Hasselhoff was noted for his performance of Looking for Freedom, at the Berlin Wall at New Year's Eve 1989:

More than 70,000 people left the East in January 1990 for West Germany.

  • April 1990:

From spring 1990, this section was painted by artists from 21 countries with 106 murals - turning this part of the Wall into the East Side Gallery. Credit: Horst Sturm/DPA/Press Association Images
  • October 2009:

November 2009 marked the 20th anniversary since the fall of the Wall, in which hundreds of thousands gathered in the Eastern German city of Leipzig for a peaceful vigil.

20 years of a historic demonstration in the Eastern German city of Leipzig Credit: Reuters
  • November 2014:

Along the former course of the Berlin Wall a new temporary Berlin Wall will be built with thousands of illuminated balloons as part of the celebrations.

On New Year's Eve in 1989, US singer David Hasselhoff sang his hit Credit: Anita Bugge/Geisler-Fotopress/DPA/Press Association Images
Stands for balloons placed along a former Berlin Wall location, which will be used in the installation 'Lichtgrenze' Credit: Reuters
People walk under stands with balloons placed along the former Berlin Wall location at Mauerpark, Credit: Reuters

According to

  • 100 East German fugitives, who were killed, died by accident, or committed suicide while trying to flee through the border fortifications.

  • 30 people from the East and the West, who had not intended to flee, were shot or died in an accident.

  • Eight East German border soldiers, who were killed by deserters, comrades, a fugitive, an escape helper or a West Berlin policeman by accident or intentionally while on duty.

At least 251 travellers also died during or after they had gone through checkpoints at the Berlin border crossings.