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Photos show how German barrier fell November 9, 1989

Saturday marks the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the barrier that divided West Berlin from East, and enclosed the West from the rest of East Germany.

From 1961 to 1989, the iconic wall stood and symbolized the height of Cold War tensions.

Built by East German officials allied with Soviets, the wall aimed to stop those in East Germany from going to West and came to represent the ideological differences between the Eastern Bloc and western countries at the time.

People who tried to flee from the East after the wall went up faced brutal punishment. However, beginning in the late 1980s, then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev relaxed tensions and his openness eventually led East Germany to allow Czechs, Poles and others to emigrate to the West through its territory in September 1989.

During a Nov. 9, 1989, news conference, German Democratic Republic spokesman Günter Schabowski suggested the border with West Germany would be relaxed. That led to citizens with sledgehammers heading toward the barrier on both sides.

The fall of the wall officially began Nov. 9 and continued for the weeks that followed.

Here are 12 photos that show how the wall really fell:

East German policemen, foreground, try to stop demonstrators from moving toward the East German parliament building, Oct. 7, 1989, where Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev attended a reception. Several thousand young people demanded democratic reforms in East Germany.
Germans from East and West stand on the Berlin Wall in front of the Brandenburg Gate on Nov. 10, 1989, one day after the Berlin Wall opened.
An unidentified West Berliner swings a sledgehammer, trying to destroy the Berlin Wall near Potsdamer Platz, on November 12, 1989, where a new passage was opened nearby.
East German border guards use a hose to discourage West Berliners near Brandenburg gate, in Berlin on Nov. 11, 1989. The citizens from the west tried to demolish the wall, demanding it be pulled down.
East German border guards are seen through a gap in the Berlin wall after demonstrators pulled down a segment of the wall at Brandenburg gate, Berlin on November 11, 1989.
East Berliners get helping hands from West Berliners as they climb the Berlin Wall that divided the city near the Brandenburger Tor on November 10, 1989. The citizens facing the West celebrate the opening of the wall that was announced by the East German Communist government hours before.
East German border policemen, right, refuse to shake hands with a Berliner who stretches out his hand over the border fence at the eastern site nearby Checkpoint Charlie border crossing point on November 10, 1989, after the borders were opened according to the announcement by the East German government.
A man hammers away at the Berlin Wall on Nov. 12, 1989, as the border barrier between East and West Germany was torn down after 28 years, symbolically ending the Cold War.
A West German policeman, left, gives a helping hand to an East German border guard who climbs through a gap of the Berlin Wall when East Germany opened another passage at Potsdamer Platz in Berlin, Nov. 12, 1989.
East German Rosemarie Doln is overwhelmed with emotion as she is welcomed by an unidentified relative at the opening of the wall passage at Wollankstrasse in West Berlin's district of Wedding on Nov. 13, 1989 in Berlin.
Bernd Mechelke of Ingolstadt, West Germany, welcomes his friends from Woltersdorf, East Germany, with a bottle of champagne as they arrive in West Berlin on Nov. 12, 1989.
Two Berliners chat in front of Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on Nov. 12, 1989, while having lunch on a visitor's platform near the Berlin Wall.

Contributing: Angela Waters, Special for USA TODAY


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