Page last updated at 15:04 GMT, Tuesday, 31 March 2009 16:04 UK

9 Nov: Berlin Wall falls

East Berliners flood through the broken Berlin Wall


On 9 November, East Germans watching a televised government press conference were surprised to learn that they were now free travel to the West.

Those who tested the announcement late in the evening were waved through the Berlin Wall by guards. Within hours, thousands had descended on the crossings and a carnival atmosphere prevailed.

A day later, East German bulldozers began to dismantle the wall and East Germans again streamed through into West Berlin.

The sudden collapse of the Wall, 28 years after it was erected, came after an unprecedented series of mass public rallies sent the East German authorities into retreat.

In October, East Germany's ailing communist leader Erich Honecker had stepped down to be replaced by Egon Krenz, who - to prove his reformist credentials - permitted the wave of protests in provincial cities to come to the capital.

Some 9,000 East Germans were leaving through Czechoslovakia every day and the demands of the protesters were getting louder.

In early November, a million people marched through East Berlin. Three days later, the government resigned, followed by the politburo where real power lay.

By this time, every hour saw several hundred East Germans were leaving the country for the West. A smaller, reformed Politburo with Krenz at the helm attempted to stem the tide but to no avail.

Once the Berlin wall was breached, there was no turning back. Within a month, Krenz too had gone and East Germany was set on the path to reunification with West Germany.

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