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When The Wall Went Up: Berlin 1961

Germany is marking the 60th anniversary of the start of construction on the Berlin Wall, which split the nation into two rival political systems and became a symbol of the Cold War that stood for 28 years.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Berlin Mayor Michael Mueller on August 13 attended a ceremony in Berlin marking the anniversary. Steinmeier called the wall’s construction "the beginning of the end” for the communist government in East Germany.

"August 13, 1961, was a fateful day for us Germans and for the world," Steinmeier said, referring to the day construction began. "And a day that destroyed dreams and hopes, that separated children from parents, grandchildren from grandparents, that intervened painfully and sorrowfully into the lives of countless individual people."

Steinmeier and Berlin Mayor Michael Mueller placed wreaths at the Berlin Wall Memorial for the estimated 140 people who were killed by East German border guards as they tried to flee to the West from communist East Germany.

All of the photographs in this gallery were culled from the RFE/RL archives at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University in California.

(Gallery originally published on November 6, 2014)

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