What started out as a makeshift barbed wire and concrete barricade separating the already politically divided nation of Germany, quickly became a symbol of the Cold War and the historic clash between capitalistic and communistic idealism. In response to the droves of people who were attempting to flee Eastern Germany for greater economic opportunity in the west, the GDR (or, the communistic German Democratic Republic) began constriction on the Berlin Wall.
From the beginning of its construction late in the evening on August 12, 1961, until its eventual destruction on November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall strictly limited the movement of East German citizens to the west, separating them from their families and their jobs, and forcing many people into economic desperation. Over the years, East and West Germans worked together to find effective ways of helping East German citizens escape to the west by ramming barricades with cars, jumping out of the windows of buildings along the wall, as well as escaping through sewers and tunnels that were dug beneath the wall. And though over 150 people were killed trying to escape, over 5,000 East Germans were successful.
For nearly 30 years, a politically and physically divided Berlin anxiously anticipated the end of the Cold War and reunification of the country. So, when an announcement was made by the GDR on November 9,1989, that they would again provide visas to East German citizens, people took it as a sign that the war was reaching its end, and the very idea of reunification inspired citizens to take their future into their own hands. The rest, of course, is history: Germans on both sides began hammering away at the oppressive wall, climbing over it, and celebrating the fact that they had found their freedom as a unified nation once again.
The photographs documenting this monumental occasion are an inspiring reminder of people's ability to persevere under the harshest of circumstances - and of their ability not only to endure, but to overcome.