THOUSANDS are gathering today in Germany to mark the 30 year anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall fell.
Chancellor Angela Merkel, flanked by armed special forces cops, will attend ceremonies in Berlin which will pay tribute to the peaceful protests which helped crush communism in eastern Europe.
Angela Merkel in Berlin today for the celebrations marking the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall[/caption]
The German leader plants a rose on one of the last remaining sections of the wall at Bernauer Strasse in Berlin[/caption]
Berliners gather in the rain to mark the historic event which saw Germany united as one[/caption]
The wall divided the city for 28 years[/caption]
The German leader was pictured earlier placing a rose on one of the last remaining sections of the wall at Bernauer Strasse.
Following World War II, Germany was divided in two – with the Soviet-aligned east, known as the German Democratic Republic (GDR), held captive by an oppressive regime and a brutal secret police force.
But on November 9, 1989, the country became whole again, when the GDR relaxed the laws allowing people to move into West Germany.
The jubilant scenes of liberated families climbing over the wall and young men taking sledgehammers to the concrete structure became iconic.
Today, Merkel will be joined by officials and leaders from other European countries to celebrate the moment when the iron curtain across the continent came crashing down.
The German Chancellor was born in the west of the country in 1954 but grew up in the impoverished east after her pastor father moved there for work when she was a baby.
Already a leading academic in the communist country in the 1980s, she very quickly became involved in the democratic movement following the fall of the wall.
Berliners will gather for the main commemoration today at Bernauer Strasse, where one of the last parts of the wall that divided the city for 28 years still stands.
Heavily-armed special forces cops wearing masks were seen on the streets of Berlin this morning ahead of the high profile event.
Light installations, concerts and public debates are also being held throughout the city and other parts of Germany to mark the anniversary.
Masked special forces cops pictured in the city today ahead of the anniversary events[/caption]
A man pounds away the Berlin Wall as East Berlin border guards look on from above the Brandeburg Gate on November 11, 1989[/caption]
Why was the Berlin Wall destroyed?
The dismantling of the Berlin Wall was the climax of six months in which the communist regimes of eastern Europe tottered and fell.
The 12ft high, 87-mile-long wall was built as the Cold War raged in 1961, with Germany divided into two separate nations, Communist East and democratic West.
The historic Berlin Wall fell on November 9, 1989.
Official demolition of the Berlin Wall began in the summer of 1990.
More than 40,000 wall sections were recycled and used for German reconstruction projects.
All the border controls ended on July 1st 1990 and Germany became one country again on October 3rd 1990.
The wall’s demolition also helped to put an end to the Cold War.
The wall cut West Berlin off from the Eastern half of the city and from East Germany. It was a forbidding and impenetrable barrier between two states and between the world’s opposing political ideals.
The seeds of its destruction were sown by the reforming Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.
On November 1, 1989, the East German government gave in, opening its border with Czechoslovakia.
After more demonstrations the East German government resigned.
On November 9 it was announced that exit visas would be granted to all East Germans who wished to visit the West.
The border was now open. Overjoyed citizens flocked to the Berlin Wall and began pulling it down with sledgehammers, chisels or their hands. Germany was reunified in October 1990.
The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and Russia became a democratic republic.
Germans from East and West stand on the Berlin Wall in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin[/caption]
The dismantling of the Berlin Wall was the climax of six months in which the communist regimes of eastern Europe tottered and fell[/caption]