The dramatic fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 signalled the end of the Cold War, triggering the reunification of Germany, the subsequent dissolution of the USSR and the reshaping of Europe.

Explore the story of one of the most iconic and defining moments of the 20th century.

Cold War, Art And Design

'We had to bring the Wall'

Thierry Noir and Stik stand in front of their work Wall

In 1980s Berlin, street art painted on the Berlin Wall was a form of artistic resistance and political commentary.

French artist Thierry Noir lived in a squat near the Berlin Wall and began painting on it in 1984. To mark the 30th anniversary of its fall, he has created a new work with his friend and fellow street artist STIK. 

Cold War

Voices of the Wall

Brian Wehner awaits his turn to observe East Berlin from a viewing platform in the French sector of West Berlin circa 1963. A small sign on the platform warns that unauthorised personnel are forbidden from proceeding any further.
© Brian Wehner from IWM photo archive, HU 140187

The Berlin Wall played a role in millions of lives - find out more about how five people who were there remember it. 

Jock McFadyen and the Berlin Wall

Die Mauer by Jock McFadyen showing a section of the Berlin Wall covered in colourful graffiti. There is a bright orange sun on the top right hand side of the painting.
© Die Mauer by Jock McFadyen

IWM North

Two artworks depicting the Berlin Wall are on permanent display at IWM North - discover the story behind how they were created. 

Read more.

Cold War, Second World War

Berlin Wall 30: What Was The Berlin Wall?

What was the Berlin Wall? Thumbnail

Patrolled by guards and dogs, illuminated by floodlights and fortified by barbed wire and watchtowers, the Wall divided Berlin for 28 years.

Berlin Wall Explained

Live in Divided Berlin Thumbnail Image
Cold War

Berlin Wall 30: Life in Divided Berlin

Construction on Berlin Wall began in 1961, but it would divide the city until 1989. But what was life like in divided Berlin?

Art and the Berlin Wall
Cold War

Berlin Wall 30: Art and the Berlin Wall

The Berlin Wall divided the city for nearly 30 years, but it inspired some iconic artwork.

Why did the Berlin Wall fall - Thumbnail
Cold War

Why did the Berlin Wall fall?

The fall of the Berlin Wall was the first step towards German reunification. The political, economic and social impact of the fall of the Berlin Wall further weakened the already unstable East German government. Germany reunited on 3 October 1990, 11 months after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

But why did the Berlin Wall fall?

The Berlin Wall

A man chips away at a part of the Berlin Wall. Grafffiti above him reads 'Build Doors Not Walls.' Still from the NATO film collection.
© IWM (NAT 3544)
Cold War

The Rise and Fall of the Berlin Wall on Film

The Berlin Wall fell on 9 November 1989. By the end of 1990, much of the Wall had been demolished. 

Explore our timeline of key events in the Berlin Wall’s history using IWM’s film collection.

The opening of the Berlin Wall. The West German flag flies over the Brandenburg Gate, with a graffiti covered section of the Berlin Wall in the foreground in early 1990. The marks on the wall left by hundreds of Berliners chipping away at the concrete are clearly visible. By the end of 1990, much of the Wall had been demolished.
Cold War

8 Photos Of The Fall Of The Berlin Wall

On 9 November 1989, government spokesman Gunter Schabowski announced at a press conference that every citizen of East Germany would be allowed to travel to the West, effective immediately.

Berlin Wall
© IWM (CT 2229)
Cold War

What was the Berlin Wall and how did it fall?

At the end of the Second World War, Germany was divided into four zones of occupation under the control of the United States, Britain, France and the Soviet Union.

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Winston Churchill, Harry Truman and Joseph Stalin at the Potsdam Conference on 23 July 1945
Second World War

How The Potsdam Conference Shaped The Future Of Post-War Europe

The Potsdam Conference was the last meeting of the ‘Big Three’ Allied leaders during the Second World War. At Yalta in February 1945, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, American President Franklin D Roosevelt and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin had agreed to meet again following the defeat of Germany, principally to determine the borders of post-war Europe.

Cold War

How The Allies Defeated The Soviet Blockade Of Berlin In The Cold War

The Berlin Airlift was the first major confrontation between the East and the West during the Cold War. It was known as Operation 'Plainfare' by the British and Operation 'Vittles' by the Americans.