Page last updated at 12:48 GMT, Monday, 9 November 2009

The fall of the Berlin Wall: Your memories

East German cars await the opening of the crossing point under the Brandenburg Gate after the opening of the Berlin Wall
Hundreds of East German cars waited to cross into West Berlin

As Germany celebrates the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the BBC News website has asked readers to share their memories of the historic day.

I was imprisoned twice by the Communists - when I was 15 and tried to flee the oppressive system and again at the age of 21 when organising a demonstration in Dresden in February 1988. They came like Gestapo in the early hours of the day, searched my home and transported me to the Secret Police Headquarters in Bautzener Landstrasse in Dresden - they knew how to do their job... Almost one year passed and then the former West German government invested in my freedom a few tens of thousand Deutschmarks and I was released at end of 1988 and transported to the "Iron Curtain" by train accompanied by two Stasi officers. I decided to reside in West Berlin.

The first time we crossed the border it felt like a miracle. And every time we travel to a Western country, we feel a bit of that miracle again
Marianne, Gera, Germany

One year later the Wall went down as I was phoning my parents who were still living in East Germany. That night I immediately went to the Brandenburg Gate and stood on top of the Wall. I later jumped down onto the Communist side and provoked the border guards. Fortunately they didn't shoot me and even helped me up the Wall again. Over the next few days I went to the Wall and helped to bring down this disgrace - piece by piece with hammer and chisel - what an irony...
Stefan Gross, Berlin, Germany

You could feel it in the air that change was coming. I was 20 at the time. Me and two buddies ignored the guards for the first time, jumped on the Wall and started walking backwards and forwards singing old German songs. We jumped down on the other side and I ran straight for my uncle's house in the Eastern part - I had been there once before, illegally. He wasn't home so we ran back to the Wall where somebody handed me a hammer and without question I just started pounding away at the Wall. I was so excited that I got exhausted after some time and I gave the hammer to my other mate who started hammering away too. What a night, I will always remember it - so much drinking and singing... It was great to see us as one Germany again.
Felix Heltmann, Berlin, Germany

East German guards talking to tourists at the Berlin Wall a week after it fell (Photo: Kerry Simons)
Kerry Simons took this photo of an East German guard talking to tourists

I'm a born and bred Berliner and I witnessed most of the events leading up to, during and after the fall of the Berlin Wall. I took part in some of the opposition demonstrations 1989 having a sickening feeling of fear for another Tiannamen Square. We were hoping that the spirit of glasnost and perestroika would prevent something similar happening in the DDR but we were not sure. The city was full of rumours swirling around of mobilisation of the armed forces. Although some of my friends used the deteriorating situation to flee the country via Hungary or the West German embassy in Prague, I never felt like running away. I just knew that change was in the air didn't want to miss the opportunity to see history happen. But not ever did I imagine that the Wall may come down and the borders will open. That was just too far-fetched for the people of my generation. I remember the evening of the 9 November 1989 like it was only yesterday. I was visiting my mum and staying for dinner. After dinner we were watching a press conference - this was were the announcement was made that the borders would be opened. We were gobsmacked and just couldn't believe it. The next morning I said at my colleague: "How about driving down Ku'damm?" He grinned back saying: "Let's go." We took my colleague's Trabi and headed to the only border crossing so far opened at Bornholmer Strasse. After hours of queueing along with hundreds of Trabis, Skodas, Wartburgs and Ladas, still being anxious that all this was just an elaborate hoax, we crossed the Iron Curtain screaming our heads off as we were crossing the bridge.
Jens G., Leamington Spa, UK

I was seven when the Berlin Wall came down. I remember watching it late at night on the telly and I remember my father being very happy and crying. The next day we drove all the way to Berlin, and helped bring down the Wall. I still have my peace of it as a book stand. Soon after that I remember us visiting relatives and friends in East Germany - people I had never seen before. I also remember my first ride in a Trabi, going 80km/h felt like doing 180km/h in my dad's VW Passat. Everything was old and falling apart. Many places in Eastern Germany still are. But at least the overwhelming omnipresent smell of brown coal has faded.
Markus K., Hamburg, Germany

A man with a hammer chipping off the wall. Photo: Ronald Breze
Ronald Breeze was among those who helped bring down the Wall

I was only eight when the Wall fell, but despite my young age I remember the times leading up to that big night in November distinctly. My parents were actively partaking in the demonstrations in Leipzig whenever they were held. When the phone rang on that November night and my granddad said we should all get ready for a drive to Berlin, the energy in the house was indescribable. Full of excitement and anticipation, four adults and myself squeezed into my granddad's Trabi and, what seemed a lifetime later, arrived in Berlin to celebrate. I will never forget that moment, and the looks of joy, relief and hope on my parents' faces. People like my parents, who did not allow the regime to oppress them, made the fall of the Communist East German regime possible, and hence allowed me not only to enjoy freedom of speech and opinion but also the freedom of choice. Was it not for them, I would not have been able to move to a foreign, Western country in my adult life and lead a life without boundaries.
Katja, Amsterdam, Netherlands (originally Halle/Saale, Germany)

I live in East Germany. Until November 1989 I was convinced that the Berlin Wall would never come down and every movement to change our situation would end like the Prague Spring - with people in jail or killed and with even more oppression. The first time we crossed the old border it felt like a miracle. And every time we travel to a Western country we feel a bit of that miracle again.
Marianne, Gera, Germany

I was in Berlin twice in November 1989, touring with the rock band Napalm Beach. The border guards were hard-nosed Orwellians right to the bitter end, but the soldiers patrolling the actual Wall started to smile at our cameras when we waved to them. Naturally we bashed chunks out of the Wall to take home as souvenirs. Everyone in the Western part of Berlin seemed like they were walking three inches above the pavement, in a kind of euphoria. People were inviting complete strangers into their homes just to share the emotion - not a typically German thing to do. When the Wall actually came down, everyone wept for joy. You couldn't not feel it.
Jan Celt, Portland, Oregon USA

I jumped in the car and drove to Berlin with my friend when we started to hear reports of a movement happening there. We went there to help bring the Wall down not knowing what might happen. We were both 18 and for us life was an adventure. That Christmas I gave as presents pieces of the Berlin Wall with photocopies of my Checkpoint Charlie passport stamp from the day before the Wall came down. We were there when it happened and we helped bring down the Wall.
James Sanger

I was born the year the Wall was built and there when it came down. I was a cast member in the musical Hair - on tour from the States doing a performance in Berlin on the night the Wall started to crumble. Never were the lyrics "let the sunshine in" more poignant. After the show a bunch of us raced out to the Wall. We borrowed a hammer and started chipping at the Wall. The flash from our camera was our only light. The best moment was reaching into a hole and shaking hands with an East German guard. Free at last.
Rick Van Velsor, USA

I was living in West Berlin when the Wall came down. It was such a shock when it happened, but marvellous to be taking part in history in the making. I climbed up onto the Wall with friends, and eventually got removed from it by the East German guards when they took their place up on it. I got knocked down by a Hungarian Wartburg when it came through Checkpoint Charlie, too, though it was only going around 5mph at the time. I got picked up and put on the bonnet of the car as it drove over the border, while someone gave me a red rose and a bottle of Sekt to enjoy for the "journey". Wonderful memories!
Karen Stewart, Doncaster, England

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