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Fall of the Berlin Wall: Timeline

A history of the events that caused the Berlin Wall to fall on November 9, 1989.

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Aug. 13 The border between East and West Berlin is closed and barbed wire and fencing is erected; concrete appears two days later. The wall would eventually grow to be a 96-mile barrier encircling West Berlin.

Aug. 15 Conrad Schumann, a 19-year-old East German border guard, was the first person photographed escaping to West Germany. About 10,000 people attempted escapes, and 5,000 succeeded.

Aug. 24 Gunter Litfin, a 24-year-old tailor's apprentice, was the first person shot dead trying to escape.


Aug. 17 Peter Fechter, 18, was shot while trying to escape. He became an icon of the brutality of the wall because he fell on the border strip on the east side in view of West German authorities, but neither they nor bystanders were allowed to assist him. He died where he fell.


June 26 In a speech on the West German side of the Berlin Wall, President John F. Kennedy says: "There are many people in the world who really don't understand, or say they don't, what is the great issue between the free world and the Communist world. Let them come to Berlin." He also utters the phrase "Ich bin ein Berliner" (I am a Berliner).

Dec. 17 After much negotiation, an agreement is reached allowing West Berliners to visit relatives in East Berlin on a limited basis.



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