On November 9, Germany will commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, an event that for many signified the end of the Iron Curtain and Communist control of Eastern Europe. German chancellor Angela Merkel will be joined by leaders from other European nations to celebrate what many view as the success of collective action over political dictatorship.
Celebrating the event in Berlin, Merkel will be joined by Russian president Dmitry Medvedev and other world leaders. As the strongest member and leader of the USSR, Russia became synonymous with communism and dictatorship in the years after World War II. The presence of President Medvedev, therefore, is an important symbol of the new relationships among European nations. The commemoration event will occur at the Brandenburg Gate, which has become a special monument for Berliners and other Germans in the process of re-uniting the nation.
The events that led to the fall of communism in the USSR and other Warsaw Pact member nations were more numerous and more complicated than just the destruction of the Berlin Wall. But for many who lived through the dramatic political changes of the 1980s, the televised images of East and West Berliners tearing down sections of the wall with picks, shovels, and bare hands most symbolized the enormous changes that occurred during the decade. The anniversary of this event encourages reflection on the significance of the Berlin Wall and the political changes that it represents.
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- The Fall of the Wall—New Perspectives on 1989
This Web page of the German Embassy in Malawi offers interviews and political analysis of the effects of the fall of the Berlin Wall and its legacy. Also included are articles that place the new freedoms represented by the removal of the wall in context with other movements for freedom across the world.
(Source: German Embassy at Lilongwe, October 21, 2009)
- The Brandenburg Gate
This article describes the history and significance of the Brandenburg Gate.
(Source: Berlin Landmarks, October 21, 2009)
- End of the Berlin Wall, Ten Years Later
This article from 1999 offers a brief description and chronology of the numerous events that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. It also describes the effects of the fall and the ten-year commemoration ceremony.
(Source: The Russia Journal Archives, October 21, 2009)
- Berliners Celebrate the Fall of the Wall
This article is reprinted from November 9, 1989, the day the first parts of the Berlin Wall were destroyed by citizens of East and West Berlin.
(Source: BBC News, October 21, 2009)
- Leaders Invited to Berlin Wall Celebrations
This brief article describes the planned commemoration of the fall of the wall.
(Source: EUBusiness, October 21, 2009)
- Pope Hails Fall of Berlin Wall
This article describes the importance of the 1989 event, even twenty years later. It also includes a brief description of the planned commemoration of the fall of the wall.
(Source: The Age, October 21, 2009)
Critical Thinking Questions
- Summarize What events led to the fall of the Berlin Wall?
- Make Inferences Why was the fall of the Berlin Wall surprising to many leaders and citizens of socialist states?
- Form and Support Opinions Could the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of communism have been avoided by Communist leaders?