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August 17, 2011

Remembering the Berlin Wall

In 1961, East Germany erected a wall -- initially barbed wire, eventually concrete -- in the middle of Berlin to prevent its citizens from fleeing the communist country to West Germany during the height of the Cold War. It has been reported that 136 people died while trying to escape, but the total number is unknown. The wall finally came down at the beginning of November in 1989, part of the reunification of East and West Germany. Here are images from this past weekend’s recognition of the construction of the wall 50 years ago, as well as historic images. -- Lloyd Young (30 photos total)

A nun walks in front of a line of wreaths during the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the construction of the Berlin Wall at the Berlin Wall Memorial at Bernauer Strasse in Berlin Aug. 13. Germany marks the 50th anniversary of the day communist East Germany sealed itself off behind the Wall. Germany had been divided into capitalist western and communist eastern sectors after the end of World War II. At the height of tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union, the East German regime started building the wall through the capital on Aug. 13, 1961. (Markus Schreiber/Associated Press)

A West Berliner stands at the foot of the Berlin Wall while talking to an East Berliner in this 1962. (KRT) #

Spectators stand at the Berlin Wall Memorial at Bernauer Strasse in Berlin Aug. 13. (Markus Schreiber/Associated Press) #

A boy sitting on the shoulders of another child peers at the Liesen street in Wedding, West Berlin, over the wall towards the eastern part of the city Aug. 23, 1961. (Werner Kreusch/Associated Press) #

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Berlin's Major Klaus Wowereit, Germany's President Christian Wulff and Axel Klausmeier, Director of the Berlin Wall Foundation, lay down floral wreaths during a commemorative ceremony of the construction of the Berlin Wall at the Bernauer Strasse Memorial in Berlin on Aug. 13. Berlin marked the 50th anniversary of the building of the Berlin Wall with a memorial service and a minute of silence in memory of those who died trying to flee to the West. (Carsten Koall/AFP/Getty Images) #

A young woman is seen through semi-transparent portraits of people who were killed trying to cross from east to west across the Berlin Wall on the 50th anniversary of the construction of the Berlin Wall at the Bernauer Strasse memorial on Aug. 13. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images) #

A man took a photo at the Berlin Wall Memorial at Bernauer Strasse in Berlin, during the commemorative ceremony of the construction of the Berlin Wall on Aug. 13. Berlin marked the 50th anniversary of the building of the Berlin Wall with a memorial service and a minute of silence in memory of those who died trying to flee to the West. (Michele Tantussi/AFP/Getty Images) #

A man holding a German flag attends a ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of the construction of the Berlin Wall at the Bernauer Strasse memorial on Aug. 13. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images) #

A visitor peeks through a still-existing section of the Berlin Wall into the so-called 'death strip,' where East German border guards had the order to shoot anyone attempting to flee into West Berlin at the Bernauer Strasse memorial on Aug. 5. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images) #

A combination photo shows people posing at the Berlin Wall at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin in this June 6, 1989 file image (left) and a general view of Ebertstrasse and the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Aug. 3, 2011. (Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters) #

Tourists posing in front of the Berlin Wall at the Brandenburg gate in Berlin in this June 6, 1989 (left) and a general view of the Brandenburg gate Aug. 3, 2011. (Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters) #

A man takes pictures of exhibited photographs of the Berlin Wall at Bernauer Strasse in Berlin during the commemorative ceremony of the construction of the Berlin Wall on Aug. 13. (Michele Tantussi/AFP/Getty Images) #

A West Berlin police officer stands in front of the concrete wall dividing East and West Berlin at Bernauer Strasse as East Berlin workers add blocks to increase the height of the East German barrier Oct. 7, 1961. (Associated Press) #

Sylvia von Scheidt reacts at the Berlin Wall Memorial at Bernauer Strasse in Berlin Aug. 13. Germany marks the 50th anniversary of the day communist East Germany sealed itself off behind the Berlin Wall. Germany had been divided into capitalist western and communist eastern sectors after the end of World War II. At the height of tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union, the East German regime started building the wall through the capital on Aug. 13, 1961. (Markus Schreiber/Associated Press) #

Visitors pass a camera through a hole in a remaining part of the Berlin Wall at the Documentation Center for Nazi Crimes in Berlin Aug. 13. ( Steffi Loos/Associated Press) #

A person walks across the plaque and a line of bricks that show where the Berlin Wall used to stand at the Berlin Wall memorial site in Bernauer Strasse, Aug. 9. The German capital is preparing to mark the 50th anniversary of the building of the Berlin Wall, which was erected on Aug. 13, 1961. (Thomas Peter/Reuters) #

People look at the map showing the location of the Berlin Wall within the limits of Bernauer Strasse at the memorial site in Bernauer Strasse in Berlin, Aug. 11. (Pawel Kopczynski/Reuters) #

Tourists look through a part of the former Berlin Wall fortification at the Berlin Wall memorial site in Bernauer Strasse, Aug. 9. (Thomas Peter/Reuters) #

A tourist walked in front of a segment of the graffiti painted wall at the East Side Gallery in Berlin, Aug. 12. (Pawel Kopczynski/Reuters) #

An artist performs between iron bars during a rehearsal in Berlin, Germany, Aug. 8. The performance "Between the bricks" directed by Jo Parks will be shown during the remembrance celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the building of the Berlin Wall on Aug. 13. The iron bars symbolize the Berlin Wall and are set up where the original Wall stood at the Wall Memorial at Bernauer Strasse. (Markus Schreiber/Associated Press) #

A man hammering at the Berlin Wall, as the border barrier between East and West Germany was torn down after 28 years. on Nov. 12, 1989. (John Gaps III, Associated Press) #

A young West German girl smiling at her father as she points to a large hole in the Berlin Wall Nov. 11, 1989. The German capital is preparing to mark the 50th anniversary of the building of the Berlin Wall, which was erected on Aug. 13, 1961. (Reuters) #

West Berlin youngsters peer through an opening in the wall at Postdammer Platz as East German border guards stand and watch. (John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe) #

West Berliners crowd in front of the Berlin Wall early Nov. 11, 1989 as they watch East German border guards demolishing a section of the wall in order to open a new crossing point between East and West Berlin near Potsdamer Square. (AFP) #

Defecting East German soldier Hans Conrad Schumann leaps over a barbed wire barricade at the Bernauer Street sector into West Berlin on Aug. 15, 1961. Schumann made his break for freedom to join his family which had fled earlier to West Berlin. Schumann, who was immortalized in this photograph as he leapt across the barbed wire fence that became the Berlin Wall, hanged himself from a tree June 20, 1998 near his garden, police said. (Peter Leibing/Assocaited Press/Contipress) #

East German tanks lined up at Warschauer Bridge in Berlin, Germany Aug. 13, 1961. Crossing points between East and West Berlin were heavily guarded after Communists prevented East Germans from crossing into the West sector in an effort to stop heavy flow of refugees. (Peter Hillebrecht/Associated Press) #

East German workers (left) assemble a wall of concrete blocks in the French sector of East Berlin Aug. 15, 1961. (Eddie Worth/Associated Press) #

An inscription "from USSR mit love" on the Berlin Wall Oct. 13, 1976. The Berlin Wall might be history but the debate over its construction 50 years ago still weighs heavily on Germany's collective consciousness as seen in an unseemly political row. With two regional elections set for September 2011, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) has lashed out at the left-wing Linke party, a sometime ally, for recently defending the building of the Wall. (Ralph Gatti/AFP/Getty Images) #

Peter Fechter is held by East German border guards, prior to being pronounced dead Aug. 17, 1962. Fechter was shot by East German guards as he tried to make it over the wall. (Associated Press) #

The sculpture 'Mauerdenkmal 1000' ('Wall memorial 1000') by artist Florian Brauer, on the so-called 'death strip', (no man's land), at the former Berlin Wall site in Bernauer Strasse June 16, 2011. The sculpture, which is part of events the German capital is holding to mark the 50th anniversary of the building of the Berlin Wall, is based on the scene when East German citizen Peter Fechter was eventually carried away by a GDR border guard, an hour after he was shot by guards on Aug. 17, 1962 as he attempted to climb over the Wall to West Berlin. Severely wounded, Fechter fell back onto the border strip at the base of the Berlin Wall and lay there bleeding to death without medical assistance. West Berlin police were not permitted to intervene, nor did the border troops of the western Allies at Checkpoint Charlie get involved. He was not carried away by GDR border guards until almost an hour later. (Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters) #




 
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