Berlin Wall fragment
Item type: Wall fragment Date: 1989 Description: After World War II Berlin was divided into British, US, French and Soviet zones of control. As relations between the former allies slipped into a Cold War, the position of Western controlled Berlin became difficult. By 1948 about one million East Germans had fled to the West through Berlin. To stop this, on the 12/13th of August 1961 Soviet soldiers put up a barbed wire fence along the border. By the Autumn this barrier had become a 13ft (4 metre) high wall around West Berlin. Over 10,000 escapes were attempted and at least 80 people were killed trying to make it over the wall. The wall became a symbol of the Cold War years. By 1989 Soviet control of Eastern Europe was being eased by Premier Mikhail Gorbachev. East Germans began to call for change and many passed through Hungary to reach the West. On the 4th of November nearly a million people protested in East Berlin. Finally, on the 9th, the government announced that Easterners would be allowed to cross into West Germany. That night, thousands passed through the wall and Berlin became the scene of a giant party. Many people broke off pieces of the wall as souvenirs – this is one of them. Nonviolent protests helped bring about a change which led to the reunification of Germany on the 2nd of October 1990.