Fall of the Berlin Wall: Timeline
A history of the events that caused the Berlin Wall to fall on November 9, 1989.
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Aug. 13 The border between East and West Berlin is closed and barbed wire and fencing is erected; concrete appears two days later. The wall would eventually grow to be a 96-mile barrier encircling West Berlin.
Aug. 24 Gunter Litfin, a 24-year-old tailor's apprentice, was the first person shot dead trying to escape.
Aug. 17 Peter Fechter, 18, was shot while trying to escape. He became an icon of the brutality of the wall because he fell on the border strip on the east side in view of West German authorities, but neither they nor bystanders were allowed to assist him. He died where he fell.
June 26 In a speech on the West German side of the Berlin Wall, President John F. Kennedy says: "There are many people in the world who really don't understand, or say they don't, what is the great issue between the free world and the Communist world. Let them come to Berlin." He also utters the phrase "Ich bin ein Berliner" (I am a Berliner).
Dec. 17 After much negotiation, an agreement is reached allowing West Berliners to visit relatives in East Berlin on a limited basis.
East German authorities order stricter border controls – with additional wall segments and barbed wire to foil escapes – after negotiations for freer crossings break down.
Sept. 3 The Four-Power Agreement on Berlin was signed. The accord led to eased travel restrictions from West Germany to West Berlin as well as an opening of trade and diplomatic ties between East Germany and West Germany
A second wall is built behind the original wall deeper inside East German territory, including touch-sensitive fencing with weapons mounted to fire at anyone touching the fence.
Oct. 7 Three teenagers are killed when East German police clash with protesters demanding "Down with the wall!"
Aug. 31 An escalation of Eastern European reform movements, begun in the 1970s, culminates in an agreement between the Communist Polish government and striking Gdansk shipyard workers led by electrician Lech Walesa. The workers ended their strike and the government guaranteed the workers' right to form independent trade unions as well as to strike. This leads to the rise of the anticommunist Solidarity movement.
June 12 Speaking in West Berlin at the wall, US President Ronald Reagan says : "General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."