Germany celebrates fall of Berlin Wall

fall-of-berlin-wall-20th-anniversary

Thousands of people are joining world leaders in Germany today to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, a symbol that marked the beginning of the end of the Cold War.

The East began construction of the Wall in the early hours of August 13, 1961 to stop the flight of people to the West. After its erection, around 5,000 people attempted to escape over the border, with estimates of the resulting death toll varying between around 100 and 200.

Today’s festivities include concerts, a memorial service for those people killed trying to escape through the barrier, toppling of 1,000 giant brightly colored dominoes placed along the wall’s route and fireworks display at the Brandenburg Gate.

World leaders including Gordon Brown, Nicolas Sarkozy and Dmitry Medvedev will also give speeches.

At a ceremony last night, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for a new transatlantic push to free those still oppressed.

“Our history did not end the night the Wall came down,” she said.

“To expand freedom to more people, we cannot accept that freedom does not belong to all people. We cannot allow oppression defined and justified by religion or tribe to replace that of (communist) ideology.”