TIMELINE:The rise and fall of the Berlin Wall

Wed Nov 4, 2009 9:09am EST
 
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(Reuters) - The Berlin Wall was breached 20 years ago on November 9, 1989. Here are some key dates in the history of the Berlin Wall.

- June 15, 1961. As a growing number of East Germans stream into West Berlin amid worsening conditions and fears the border may one day be closed, Communist East German leader Walter Ulbricht declares: "Nobody intends to build a wall." Thousands read between the lines and the exodus accelerates.

- Aug 13, 1961. After midnight, East German troops begin erecting what Ulbricht calls an "anti-fascist protection barrier".

- Aug 15, 1961. Creating an enduring image, East German soldier Conrad Schumann is photographed leaping over a barbed wire section of the divide into the West.

- Aug 19, 1961. Wall claims first life as man falls to his death trying to climb down from his top-floor apartment in East Berlin's Bernauerstrasse to pavement below in West Berlin.

- Aug 24, 1961. Date of what is generally accepted as first killing by border guards after Wall went up. Guenter Litfin, 24, believed shot dead as he swam across the river Spree.

- Aug 17, 1962. Eighteen-year-old Peter Fechter bleeds to death in no man's land after being shot trying to escape. Western cameramen record the scene for nearly an hour before guards take away his body.

- June 26, 1963. U.S. President John Kennedy rides in an open-top limousine through West Berlin. "Ich bin ein Berliner" (I am a Berliner) he declares in a pledge of solidarity.

- March 11, 1985. Mikhail Gorbachev, 54, becomes leader of Soviet Union and embarks on course of cautious reforms.   Continued...