The date when the Berlin Wall fell was November 9th in 1989. But to gain insights as to what led to it, understanding why it was erected is needed.
The Beginning of the Cold War
By the end of World War II, Russia was controlling Germany’s eastern side. The Allies led by the United States assumed power in the western front. There quickly developed a rivalry between the West and the Soviet Union.
This deepened in the 1950s and 60s. Both sides tried to extend their influence in world affairs and events. In response to the growing divide, the Soviets created the walled structure. Before the time when the Berlin Wall fell, the structure symbolized the Cold War itself.
Perestroika and Glasnost
Ironically it was also the Soviet Union that would bring about the wall’s destruction. The winds of change began blowing in 1985. It was the year Mikhail Gorbachev came to power. The policies of Gorbachev would have a dramatic impact in East Germany.
The first of these radical policies was perestroika. What this meant was a realigning of the economic structure that resulted in greater freedom for the people. The other policy shift was glasnost, which allowed for a free press. Consequently it led to the breakup of the USSR.
Effect on East German Politics and Policies
Although it was in November when the Berlin Wall fell, there were clear signs months earlier it would happen. Glasnost paved the way for anti administration rallies in East Germany in early 1989. This would lead to the departure of Erich Honecker as head of the German Democratic Republic Party in October. This was followed by the resignation of the entire cabinet.
A New Beginning
A new Prime Minister was elected, Hans Modrow. In an attempt to bring forth stability, he issued new directives with greater economic freedom for the people. They were also allowed to journey to West Germany for the first time. Even though the state was still technically under Communist rule, it was announced that the structure would be opened for public utilization.
The official date when the Berlin Wall fell was November 9. Thousands of people came with hammers and began taking down pieces of it. The following day, the Brandenburg Gate was opened. Initially there were checkpoints established. Primarily it was to assist those crossing over to the West, but it was soon discarded as well.
On March 18, 1990 elections were conducted in East Germany. It was the first one in over six decades. The wall continued to be taken down and by July 1990 was completely destroyed. The end result was an exodus of people from the East to the West. On October 3, 1990 Germany became a single country once again.
The resulting union was not without problems. The economic situation in the East was difficult and its problems were inherited by the West. But following the union, the entire country began working together. When the Berlin Wall fell, it marked the rebirth of what would become one of the economic powerhouses in Europe.