August 10, 2011 / 12:12 PM / 8 years ago

Timeline - The rise and fall of the Berlin Wall

(Reuters) - The Berlin Wall was breached on November 9, 1989. Here are some key dates in the history of the Wall.

A man waves the German flag during celebrations to mark the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall in Berlin November 9, 2009. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

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

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

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

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

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

August 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 his body away.

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 26, 1970 - Four-power talks on status of Berlin open at ambassadorial level.

June 3, 1972 - Allied foreign ministers sign a Quadripartite Agreement, allowing East and West German travel agreement to come into effect.

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

June 12, 1987 - Near Brandenburg Gate, U.S. President Ronald Reagan demands: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this Wall.”

January 1989 - Popular protests against the East German government become bolder and more widespread, but leader Erich Honecker insists: “The Wall will stand in 50, even 100 years.”

September 10, 1989 - Hungary breaks ranks with Warsaw Pact and officially opens border with Austria to East Germans, creating first chink in the Iron Curtain. Thousands of East German “tourists” go West.

October 7, 1989 - East Germany marks 40th anniversary. East Germans hail visiting Gorbachev as liberator with chants of “Gorby! Gorby!.”

October 18, 1989 - Honecker is forced to resign “on health grounds” amid growing protests.

November 4, 1989 - Half a million demonstrate for democracy in East Berlin.

November 9, 1989 - Honecker’s successor Egon Krenz tells party all East Germans can go to the West from following day if they apply for an exit visa. Mix-up over announcement means that, within minutes, East Berliners besiege border guard posts. By midnight hundreds of thousands breach Wall and pour into the West.

Writing by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall

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