The Berlin Wall was a physical barrier separating West Berlin from the German Democratic Republic (GDR) (East Germany), including East Berlin. The longer inner German border demarcated the border between East and West Germany. Both borders came to symbolize the Iron Curtain between Western and Eastern Europe and, ultimately, between USA and the Soviet Union.
During this period, at least 98 people were confirmed killed trying to cross the Wall into West Berlin, according to official figures. However, a prominent victims' group claims that more than 200 people were killed trying to flee from East to West Berlin. The East German government issued shooting orders to border guards dealing with defectors; such orders are not the same as shoot to kill orders which GDR officials denied ever issuing.
When the East German government announced on November 9, 1989, after several weeks of civil unrest, that all GDR citizens could visit West Germany and West Berlin, crowds of East Germans climbed onto and crossed the wall, joined by West Germans on the other side in a celebratory atmosphere. Over the next few weeks, parts of the wall were chipped away by a euphoric public and by souvenir hunters; industrial equipment was later used to remove almost all of the rest of it.
- Freedom! - TIME
- Forschungsprojekt „Die Todesopfer an der Berliner Mauer, 1961-1989“: BILANZ (Stand: 7. August 2008) (in German)
- E German 'licence to kill' found. BBC (2007-08-12). Retrieved on 2007-08-12. “A newly discovered order is the firmest evidence yet that the communist regime gave explicit shoot-to-kill orders, says Germany's director of Stasi files.”