Berlin Wall

2706518661_43a85a1a2a_b9 November 2009 marks the 20th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall.  Expect the web to be full of interesting commemorative coverage of this anniversary.  There will be lots to look at and lots to search for, so I’ve put up this page as a kind of directory which you can bookmark and return to now and again to see what’s been added.

Update 09 November 2009. The day is finally here!  Congratulations Germany, have a fantastic celebration!

Update 02 November 2009. Besides this page, I have posted a lot of content about the Berlin Wall and East Germany in the weeks leading up to the anniversary. Be sure to check them out too!


  1. Major Media
  2. Government
  3. Other Organizations
  4. Private Websites
  5. Videos

Major Media

  • German magazine Der Spiegel has added a good quantity of English-language content at their “20 Years After the Wall” topic page. I highly recommend this as a source of English-language content from the German perspective.  Update 09 November 2009: Der Spiegel has now, on the day of the anniversary, put up an even better English-language page with lots of links to photos and such.
  • Germany’s international broadcasting network, Deutsche Welle, has a nice slide show in English entitled “What’s left of the Berlin Wall”. What makes it most interesting are the textual descriptions that accompany each photo.
  • German television network ZDF, in its Mediathek, makes it possible to search for and watch clips from its television shows. When you get there, use the upper-right search box and enter “DDR” as the search term. You’ll get a very nice collection of results, but of course they won’t be so enjoyable if you do not understand German. If you do understand German, this feature is highly recommended, particularly (in my opinion) because of the series of clips called “Countdown Mauerfall” (Countdown to the Fall of the Wall), which shows original ZDF news broadcasts from 1989.
  • BBC’s “GCSE Bitesize” entry for Berlin Wall. The target audience is, of course, students studying for their GCSEs. Three short pages of info about the Wall.
  • BBC’s “On This Day” entry for the 9th of November. Includes video and the recollections of witnesses.
  • The BBC has also devoted an entire section of their news site to the revolutions of 1989.
  • AP_Berlin19 is a Flickr account belonging to the AP and containing several photos showing scenes of celebration from November 1989. (Update 15 Aug 2009: the photos seem to be gone. Hopefully they’ll be back.)
  • The Wall Street Journal Online has an interesting timeline of events leading up to the fall of the Wall, as seen from within the pages of their own publication.
  • From the German newspaper the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, this very nice interactive page showing click-able parts of the Wall. Each click gives you more info. Nice job, FAZ! (Unfortunately just in German.)


  •, the official Berlin website from the Online Communications division of the Berlin Mayor’s office, has a large section dedicated to the Wall, including photos, documentation, listings of memorial sites, information concerning the 20th anniversary, and more.
  • The Stiftung zur Aufarbeitung der SED-Diktatur, the official German federal government organization that investigates, appraises and publishes material about the East German communist dictatorship, dedicates a section of their site to the 20th anniversary of the “Peaceful Revolution and German Unity”. The material is only in German.
  • Moments in Time 1989/1990 (German name: Wir waren so frei) is a project of the federal office of civic education. It has lots of information in both German and English, and many of the photos are licensed under Creative Commons licenses, giving the opportunity for the images to be used elsewhere.
  • Freiheit, Einheit, Demokratie (Freedom, Unity, Democracy) is presented as the official Federal Government website for the anniversary and is maintained by the Interior Ministry. It has a collection of speeches (Reden & Texte)and photos (Bildergalerie). Most content is available only in German, though some of the speeches are available in English as well.
  • The German Embassy in London has a rather good collection of Berlin Wall and German reunification material.  The link I’ve given takes you to their article “A Short History of German Reunification”, but also look along the left-side navigation when you get there, and you’ll see other available links.

Other Organizations

  • The Brandenburg Technical University has a fantastic web site that allows you to view the perimeter of the Berlin Wall on a map. The map contains several pinned locations, which you can click on to see photos of what’s there. The name of the side is “Denkmallandschaft Berliner Mauer” (“Memorial Landscape of the Berlin Wall”). Sadly, at the time that I type this it is only available in German. Nevertheless, I think it could be fun to click around and see things even if you don’t understand the captions. Give it a try: when you get to the front page, click on the map to the right of the screen, which takes you to the main map screen. When you get there, just start clicking on things.
  • The German History Museum’s Living Museum Online has several sections of interest concerning German History. The sections most relevant to the Wall are Geteiltes Deutschland (Divided Germany) and Deutsche Einheit (German Unity). Unfortunately all texts are available only in German. But if you cannot read German, at least enjoy the very significant collection of images.
  • The Berlin Wall Association’s Memorial Site and Documentation Center is quasi-governmental in the sense that it was established by the Berlin Senate. The website’s front page contains a clickable diagram of the three main structures that make up the memorial site on Bernauer Strasse in Berlin. If you visit the “Documentation Center” portion of the site, there are a few PDFs available for download in the “Publications”. The documents are available in both German and English.
  • The Marienfelde Refugee Centre Memorial, “the museum documenting flight and emigration during Germany’s post-war division”, has a website with photos and information. The Memorial is located at Marienfelder Allee 66-80 in Berlin. I particularly liked their “Object Stories” section; check out the story of Bärlihupf.
  • Zeitbild, a German publisher and communications agency, in cooperation with the federal interior ministry, created a colorful brochure about the GDR and reunification for German students.  It’s available (only in German) as a PDF at the link.
  • The federal office for civic education, German radio (Deutschlandradio) and the Center for Research into Contemporary History put together Chronik der Mauer (Chronicle of the Berlin Wall), a website with text, photos and an interesting collection of videos.  The site has some English content and is most definitely worth checking out if you do not know German.  There are even some videos in English, such as that of the first President Bush explaining his subdued reaction to the events in Berlin in November 1989.  The German content is much more complete in the sense that it provides a continuous timeline of events between 1961 and 1990.  There are also old radio clips.  Fantastic stuff!

Private Websites

  • Friedliche Revolution und Mauerfall (Peaceful Revolution and the Fall of the Wall), is a private site belonging to Hinrich Olsen. It has loads of photos as well as very interesting and thoughtful texts. It quickly became my favorite of the private sites. BUT: it’s only in German, so the texts won’t be useful for people who cannot read the language. Nevertheless I highly recommend it for its photo collection.
  • Retracing the Berlin Wall is a private site belonging to Roy Popiolek. I’ve given the link to the English language version of the site; other languages are available. It looks like the site may not have been updated in quite a while, but I recommend it nevertheless because of its nice collection of photos and an especially nice gallery that shows the art drawn on the east side of the wall, complete with credit given to the artists. Unfortunately, the links to pop up those art works are broken, so you’re not able to see them in greater detail.
  •, available in both English and German, is a private site belonging to Matthias Hoffmann. As its name implies, it’s primary focus is photographs. However it also includes a “‘Archive of Collective Memory of the Berlin Wall” wherein visitors to the site have posted their own thoughts, memories and stories (almost entirely in German.) The photo section of the site impresses me because of its searchability.
  • Berlin Wall Online (German version is Berliner Mauer Online) is a private site owned by Heiko Burkhardt. It’s chock full of photos and text.


  • I rather like garibaldus’s video at YouTube titled “Mauerbau-Zusammenfassendes Video“. It puts together several video clips, accompanied by the fantastic music from the soundtrack of Requiem for a Dream. The music definitely heightens the emotions while watching. The text at the end of the video reads, “The Berlin Wall was erected on 16 August 1961. From 1 August 1961 to 15 August 1961, 159,730 people fled to West Berlin; that’s about 2500 daily. On 24 August 1961, someone was shot for the first time while trying to escape: Günter Liftin. The final person to be shot for attempting to flee was Chris Gueffroy, on 5 February 1989; he was just 20 years old. Altogether, 192 people died at the border.” By the way, the actual number of deaths is now being carefully examined via an academic study.
  • YouTube user DeathValleySnowman posted a 6-part documentary series titled “Escape from GDR“. The link is to the first episode; you’ll easily find the others as related items once you’re there at the YouTube page.
  • YouTube user hellpastel posted the documentary clip he titled “Berlin Wall Shoots / Schiessbefehl an der Mauerand provided English subtitles, which is really cool. Check it out.
  • One of my favorite videos on this subject at YouTube comes from user hellpastell. It shows a German report (with subtitles) of the mass of people and cars waiting for the Wall to open on 09 November 1989 at the Bornholmer Strasse checkpoint. I like it so much because it’s very up close and personal with the people who were there that day on the eastern side of the border. It’s just fun to see and hear all of these people geared up and ready for that first jaunt across the border. “Tor auf! Tor auf! Tor auf!
  • The Guardian is devoting a five-part video series to the topic “Berlin Wall: 20 Years On”. At the time I am typing this (19 October 2009), only the first in the series is available. If it’s any indication of the quality of the rest, I’m very impressed.

About the Author

Bill Dawson is an American citizen who, having married an Austrian, lives and works in Vienna, Austria. A programmer by trade, he studied history as an undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley.