Reflecting on the Fall of the Berlin Wall 30 Years Later

Living History at NYU Berlin

Cindy Nowicki
A group of NYU students walk in front of a section of the Berlin Wall.

On November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall fell, ushering in a united Germany. It was a powerful symbol of the end of the Cold War. This year, students at NYU Berlin witness history up close as they celebrate 30 years since the wall came down.

Reflecting on the Past

In order to commemorate this, NYU Berlin hosts a range of events, including Berlin Wall Stories. During this panel discussion, professors and guest speakers offer their insights into the historical and political backdrop of the events of November 1989. In addition, they share stories about what life was really like in a divided Germany. During Scene Changes: The Fall of the Berlin Wall and Its Impact on the Theater Landscape of Berlin and Germany, Berlin theatre insiders will shed light on how theatre developed in two different Germanys. Furthermore, they will talk about how, even today, we are still feeling the effects of the reunification on Berlin’s theatre landscape.

According to NYU Berlin site director Dr. Gabriella Etmektsoglou, “By studying in this city at this moment, students can contribute to conversations about the identity and values of Germany during a unique moment in its history.”

Berlin Wall Timeline

MAY 8, 1945

After Germany’s defeat in World War II, the victors—the Allies and the Soviet army—split the city of Berlin into eastern and western sections.

AUGUST 12, 1961

Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev gives the East German government permission to build a physical border between East and West Berlin to stop East German citizens from defecting to the west. Eventually, a 12-foot-tall, four-foot-wide wall of reinforced concrete and barbed wire is put in place.

NOVEMBER 9, 1989

The Berlin Wall falls virtually overnight after East Berlin’s Communist Party announces that citizens are now free to cross the border. People flood through the gates and use hammers and picks to chop away parts of the wall.

OCTOBER 3, 1990

East and West Germany officially join, forming a united Germany once again. Germans celebrate this day every year as a national holiday.