Under the control of the USSR, the Eastern Bloc states forbade movement of its citizens post WWII. People were desperate to leave East Germany and were doing so in great numbers, so the Soviets officially closed the border in 1952 and created a boundary, predominantly with barbed wire, that divided East and West Germany.

Part of that border stretched about 43km through Berlin, separating the East from the West, but due to security not being particularly well managed, people could often successfully cross into the West. Approximately 3.5 million East Germans (around 20% of the overall population) had escaped by 1961.

To combat the stream of people trying to leave the occupied East, a concrete wall was constructed through the city in 1961, with death traps on the East side. With a stronger border that was much harder to cross, from 1961-1989 only about 5% of those that attempted escape were actually successful.

Revolutions across the Eastern Bloc, including the peaceful protest dubbed the Pan-European Picnic in 1989, were the catalyst for the socialist group falling. Demolition of the wall began in June 1990 and was celebrated the world over.

While visiting Berlin, you can see smaller remains from the original wall as well as larger pieces still in-tact. 

Tourists can even pick up a piece of the wall to take home. 

Active for 28 years, Checkpoint Charlie was a prominent border crossing point between East and West Berlin during the Cold War. It was the most visible Berlin Wall checkpoint, named “Charlie” after the NATO phonetic alphabet, and continues to be an iconic memorial to the Berlin Wall.

I really felt the significance of this renowned border crossing while visiting as a tourist, it was a unique experience to be standing where the clashing sides converged.