Remembering 25 years later: The Berlin Wall crumbles

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Germany Celebrates 25 Years Since the Fall of the Berlin Wall

EDITOR'S NOTE - The Berlin Wall came down Nov. 9, 1989, heralding not just the reunification of East and West Berlin, and East and West Germany, but the eventual fall of the USSR and the Iron Curtain.

The wall had carved an absurd, brutal path through Berlin's heart and the hearts of so many of its people. Seeming as permanent as death, it separated East Germans from the supposed ideological contamination of the West and stemmed the tide of people fleeing the German Democratic Republic of East Germany. Instead the wall proved to have the transience of a wound - one that would leave a scar, one that caused pain, but one that would, over time, heal.

Between the time it was erected in 1961 and its fall in 1989, at least 136 people died at the Berlin Wall, according to the reunified city's Senate Chancellery. But after Nov. 9, East Germans could not only attempt to cross it, they could climb on top of it, attack it with hammer and chisel, or dance on top of it with their West German brethren.

The Wall's demise was preceded by weeks of protests. Hundreds of thousands of East Germans had taken to the streets, demanding free elections, the right to travel without restrictions, and other democratic reforms. Protesters in the eastern city of Leipzig, the site of some of the largest protests, shouted, "The Wall must go!"

Twenty-five years after its original publication, the AP is making available this story, written by AP newsman Nesha Starcevic. Hours before this story was published on the AP wire, Starcevic had been the first to report the wall's destruction with a flash bulletin: "East Germany began tearing down the Berlin Wall on Friday."

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Communist East Germany on Friday permanently lifted travel restrictions on its citizens, and workers began punching a hole in the Berlin Wall that for 28 years separated families and divided East and West.

All day Friday, more than 100,000 jubilant East Germans climbed over and rushed through borders for the first time in three decades and amiably chatted with stony-faced guards who once had orders to shoot those trying to escape.

Communist leader Egon Krenz told a huge rally in East Berlin his new reforms "will not be turned back."

West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl flew to West Berlin and hoped to speak with Krenz, who has stunned the world with rapid reforms intended to appease pro-democracy demonstrators and end the exodus to the West. The Communists promised free and secret elections.

Communist officials said Thursday that for the first time since the Berlin Wall went up in 1961, citizens could travel freely to the West until a new travel law was drafted. On Friday, they made the open-border policy permanent.

"It is permanent and will be the foundation of a new travel law," East German Interior Minister Friedrich Dickel said on East German television.

West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher told a cheering crowd of 20,000 outside West Berlin's City Hall that East Germany had begun poking holes in the Berlin Wall by creating new crossing points.

Genscher, his voice at times barely audible over the roar of the crowd, said the East Germans already had begun expanding the Glienicker Bridge crossing, which had been used by diplomats and is famous for spy exchanges between East and West.

On Friday night, West Berlin police said East German workers had begun punching a hole through the wall at Bernauer Strasse for a new checkpoint in the Wedding section of Berlin. "The wall is being punched through there," said a police spokesman, who asked not to identified.

Genscher listed the names of the streets to be opened to growing jubilation from the crowd gathered to hear him and others speak. Work on the checkpoints, including one used to transport garbage from the West to East Berlin, would be completed by Nov. 14, he said.

"Dear fellow citizens, when the hour of freedom sounds in Europe, all will say, 'The Germans were there," Genscher declared, his voice hoarse from emotion.

Kohl said "the spirit of freedom now reigns all over Europe - Poland, Hungary, and now, East Germany. We claim this right for all people in Europe ... we claim it for all Germans."

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Berlin Wall - updated 11/09/2014
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Remembering 25 years later: The Berlin Wall crumbles
People watch the release of balloons part of the light installation Lichtgrenze from the former route of the Berlin Wall during a Street Party organized by German governement to mark the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, in front of the Brandenburg Gate on November 9, 2014 in Berlin. AFP PHOTO / ODD ANDERSEN (Photo credit should read ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Former leader of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev takes part in the celebration on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, Nov. 9, 2014. Numerous events are taking place in Berlin to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. (AP Photo/dpa, Bernd von Jutrczenka)
German singer Udo Lindenberg performs during a Street Party organized by German government to mark the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, in front of the Brandenburg Gate on November 9, 2014 in Berlin. AFP PHOTO/ ODD ANDERSEN (Photo credit should read ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 09: Fireworks illuminate the Brandenburg Gate during celebrations on the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. The city of Berlin is commemorating the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall with an installation of 6,800 lamps coupled with illuminated balloons along a 15km route where the Wall once ran and divided the city into capitalist West and communist East. The fall of the Wall on November 9, 1989, was among the most powerful symbols of the revolutions that swept through the communist countries of Eastern Europe and heralded the end of the Cold War. Built by the communist authorities of East Germany in 1961, the Wall prevented East Germans from fleeing west and was equipped with guard towers and deadly traps. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 09: Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit speaks during celebrations for the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall at the Brandenburg Gate on November 9, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. The city of Berlin is commemorating the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall from November 7-9 with an installation of 6,800 lamps coupled with illuminated balloons along a 15km route where the Wall once ran and divided the city into capitalist West and communist East. The fall of the Wall on November 9, 1989, was among the most powerful symbols of the revolutions that swept through the communist countries of Eastern Europe and heralded the end of the Cold War. Built by the communist authorities of East Germany in 1961, the Wall prevented East Germans from fleeing west and was equipped with guard towers and deadly traps. (Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)
German singer Udo Lindenberg performs during a Street Party organized by German government to mark the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, in front of the Brandenburg Gate on November 9, 2014 in Berlin. AFP PHOTO / ROBERT MICHAEL (Photo credit should read ROBERT MLCHAEL,ROBERT MICHAEL/AFP/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 09: The Brandenburg Gate stands illuminated during celebrations on the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. The city of Berlin is commemorating the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall with an installation of 6,800 lamps coupled with illuminated balloons along a 15km route where the Wall once ran and divided the city into capitalist West and communist East. The fall of the Wall on November 9, 1989, was among the most powerful symbols of the revolutions that swept through the communist countries of Eastern Europe and heralded the end of the Cold War. Built by the communist authorities of East Germany in 1961, the Wall prevented East Germans from fleeing west and was equipped with guard towers and deadly traps. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 09: Udo Lindenberg performs at the Brandenburg Gate during celebrations on the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. The city of Berlin is commemorating the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall with an installation of 6,800 lamps coupled with illuminated balloons along a 15km route where the Wall once ran and divided the city into capitalist West and communist East. The fall of the Wall on November 9, 1989, was among the most powerful symbols of the revolutions that swept through the communist countries of Eastern Europe and heralded the end of the Cold War. Built by the communist authorities of East Germany in 1961, the Wall prevented East Germans from fleeing west and was equipped with guard towers and deadly traps. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 09: A violinist performs during celebrations for the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall at the Brandenburg Gate on November 9, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. The city of Berlin is commemorating the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall from November 7-9 with an installation of 6,800 lamps coupled with illuminated balloons along a 15km route where the Wall once ran and divided the city into capitalist West and communist East. The fall of the Wall on November 9, 1989, was among the most powerful symbols of the revolutions that swept through the communist countries of Eastern Europe and heralded the end of the Cold War. Built by the communist authorities of East Germany in 1961, the Wall prevented East Germans from fleeing west and was equipped with guard towers and deadly traps. (Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 09: Udo Lindenberg performs at the Brandenburg Gate during celebrations on the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. The city of Berlin is commemorating the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall with an installation of 6,800 lamps coupled with illuminated balloons along a 15km route where the Wall once ran and divided the city into capitalist West and communist East. The fall of the Wall on November 9, 1989, was among the most powerful symbols of the revolutions that swept through the communist countries of Eastern Europe and heralded the end of the Cold War. Built by the communist authorities of East Germany in 1961, the Wall prevented East Germans from fleeing west and was equipped with guard towers and deadly traps. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
Argentinian-born pianist and condutor Daniel Barenboim performs with Staatskapelle during a Street Party organized by German government to mark the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, in front of the Brandenburg Gate on November 9, 2014 in Berlin. AFP PHOTO / JOHN MACDOUGALL (Photo credit should read JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 09: Acrobats swing past the Quadriga statue as they perform over the Brandenburg Gate during celebrations on the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. The city of Berlin is commemorating the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall with an installation of 6,800 lamps coupled with illuminated balloons along a 15km route where the Wall once ran and divided the city into capitalist West and communist East. The fall of the Wall on November 9, 1989, was among the most powerful symbols of the revolutions that swept through the communist countries of Eastern Europe and heralded the end of the Cold War. Built by the communist authorities of East Germany in 1961, the Wall prevented East Germans from fleeing west and was equipped with guard towers and deadly traps. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 09: German President Joachim Gauck (C R), German singer-songwriter and former East German dissident Wolf Biermann (C L) and Polish Solidarity (Solidarnosc) Leader Lech Walesa (R) launch balloons from the Lichtgrenze light installation during celebrations for the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall at the Brandenburg Gate on November 9, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. The city of Berlin is commemorating the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall from November 7-9 with an installation of 6,800 lamps coupled with illuminated balloons along a 15km route where the Wall once ran and divided the city into capitalist West and communist East. The fall of the Wall on November 9, 1989, was among the most powerful symbols of the revolutions that swept through the communist countries of Eastern Europe and heralded the end of the Cold War. Built by the communist authorities of East Germany in 1961, the Wall prevented East Germans from fleeing west and was equipped with guard towers and deadly traps. (Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)
Balloons of the light installation Lichtgrenze sail into the night from the former route of the Berlin Wall during a Street Party organized by German governement to mark the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, in front of the Brandenburg Gate on November 9, 2014 in Berlin. AFP PHOTO / ODD ANDERSEN (Photo credit should read ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)
People watch fireworks after the release of balloons part of the light installation Lichtgrenze from the former route of the Berlin Wall during a Street Party organized by German governement to mark the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, in front of the Brandenburg Gate on November 9, 2014 in Berlin. AFP PHOTO / ODD ANDERSEN (Photo credit should read ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Balloons of the art installation 'Lichtgrenze 2014' fly away in front of Brandenburg Gate during the central event commemorating the fall of the wall in Berlin, Germany, Sunday, Nov. 9, 2014. 25 years ago - on Nov. 9, 1989 - the East-German government lifted travel restrictions and thousands of East Berliners had pushed their way past perplexed border guards to celebrate freedom with their brethren in the West. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)
Balloons fly over the Reichstag during the central event to commemorate the Fall of the Wall in Berlin, Germany, Sunday, Nov. 9, 2014. 25 years ago - on Nov. 9, 1989 - the East-German government lifted travel restrictions and thousands of East Berliners had pushed their way past perplexed border guards to celebrate freedom with their brethren in the West. (AP Photo/Steffi Loos)
Balloons of the art installation 'Lichtgrenze 2014' ("light border 2014") fly away at the East Side Gallery, a remnant of the Berlin Wall, in Berlin Sunday, Nov. 9, 2014. 25 years ago - on Nov. 9, 1989 - the East-German government lifted travel restrictions and thousands of East Berliners had pushed their way past perplexed border guards to celebrate freedom with their brethren in the West. (AP Photo/dpa, Lukas Schulze)
The word 'freedom' is projected during the central event to commemorate the Fall of the Wall at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, Sunday, Nov. 9, 2014. The 25th anniversary of the fall of the wall on Nov. 9, 1989 is marked with numerous events on the weekend. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
Fireworks explode behind Brandenburg Gate during the central event to commemorate the Fall of the Wall in Berlin, Germany, Sunday, Nov. 9, 2014. The 25th anniversary of the fall of the wall on Nov. 9, 1989 is marked with numerous events on the weekend. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
Daniel Barenboim conducts the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in front of Brandenburg Gate during the central event commemorating the fall of the wall in Berlin, Germany, Sunday, Nov. 9, 2014. 25 years ago - on Nov. 9, 1989 - the East-German government lifted travel restrictions and thousands of East Berliners had pushed their way past perplexed border guards to celebrate freedom with their brethren in the West. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)
Fireworks explode behind Brandenburg Gate during the central event commemorating the fall of the wall in Berlin, Germany, Sunday, Nov. 9, 2014. 25 years ago - on Nov. 9, 1989 - the East-German government lifted travel restrictions and thousands of East Berliners had pushed their way past perplexed border guards to celebrate freedom with their brethren in the West. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)
German band 'Die Fantastischen Vier' perform in front of Brandenburg Gate during the central event commemorating the fall of the wall in Berlin, Germany, Sunday, Nov. 9, 2014. 25 years ago - on Nov. 9, 1989 - the East-German government lifted travel restrictions and thousands of East Berliners had pushed their way past perplexed border guards to celebrate freedom with their brethren in the West. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)
A man wipes his eyes as he attends the central event to commemorate the Fall of the Wall at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, Sunday, Nov. 9, 2014. The 25th anniversary of the fall of the wall on Nov. 9, 1989 is marked with numerous events on the weekend. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
People stand on a bridge above balloons of the art installation 'Lichtgrenze 2014' ("light border 2014") with some 8000 balloons placed on the line for the former Berlin Wall in Berlin, Germany, Sunday, Nov. 9, 2014. The 25th anniversary of the fall of the wall on Nov. 9, 1989 is marked with numerous events on the weekend. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
Children look through a crack of the so-called hinterland wall (interior wall) decorated with roses at the Berlin Wall memorial site at Bernauer Strasse in Berlin, Germany, Sunday, Nov. 9, 2014. 25 years ago - on Nov. 9, 1989 - the East-German government lifted travel restrictions and thousands of East Berliners had pushed their way past perplexed border guards to celebrate freedom with their brethren in the West. (AP Photo/Steffi Loos)
A man puts a flower in a crack of the former Berlin Wall to commemorate the victims of the wall at the Berlin Wall memorial site at Bernauer Strasse in Berlin, Germany, Sunday, Nov. 9, 2014. 25 years ago - on Nov. 9, 1989 - the East-German government lifted travel restrictions and thousands of East Berliners had pushed their way past perplexed border guards to celebrate freedom with their brethren in the West. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
People look through a crack of the so-called hinterland wall (interior wall) decorated with roses at the Berlin Wall memorial site at Bernauer Strasse in Berlin, Germany, Sunday, Nov. 9, 2014. 25 years ago - on Nov. 9, 1989 - the East-German government lifted travel restrictions and thousands of East Berliners had pushed their way past perplexed border guards to celebrate freedom with their brethren in the West. (AP Photo/Steffi Loos)
People watch balloons of the art project 'Lichtgrenze 2014' ('lightborder 2014') in Berlin, Germany, Sunday, Nov. 9, 2014. The light installation featuring 8,000 luminous white balloons commemorates the division of Berlin where the 25th anniversary of the fall of the wall is marked with numerous events. On Nov. 9, 1989 - the East-German government lifted travel restrictions and thousands of East Berliners had pushed their way past perplexed border guards to celebrate freedom with their brethren in the West. (AP Photo/Steffi Loos)
Thousands of people gather in front of Brandenburg Gate during the central event commemorating the fall of the wall in Berlin, Germany, Sunday, Nov. 9, 2014. 25 years ago - on Nov. 9, 1989 - the East-German government lifted travel restrictions and thousands of East Berliners had pushed their way past perplexed border guards to celebrate freedom with their brethren in the West. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)
Balloons of the light installation Lichtgrenze 2014 (light border 2014) sit in front of Brandenburg Gate during the central event to commemorate the Fall of the Wall in Berlin, Germany, Sunday, Nov. 9, 2014. The 25th anniversary of the fall of the wall on Nov. 9, 1989 is marked with numerous events on the weekend. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
A person flashes the victory sign behind a man holding paper with a peace sign and the writing 'one world please' as they attend the central event to commemorate the Fall of the Wall at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, Sunday, Nov. 9, 2014. The 25th anniversary of the fall of the wall on Nov. 9, 1989 is marked with numerous events on the weekend. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
British singer Peter Gabriel performs the song 'heroes' during the central event to commemorate the Fall of the Wall at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, Sunday, Nov. 9, 2014. The 25th anniversary of the fall of the wall on Nov. 9, 1989 is marked with numerous events on the weekend. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
People watch balloons marking the former border flying away in front of the Reichstag building during the central event to commemorate the Fall of the Wall next to the Reichstag in Berlin, Germany, Sunday, Nov. 9, 2014. 25 years ago - on Nov. 9, 1989 - the East-German government lifted travel restrictions and thousands of East Berliners had pushed their way past perplexed border guards to celebrate freedom with their brethren in the West. (AP Photo/Steffi Loos)
FILE - This Nov. 12, 1989 file photo shows a man hammering at the Berlin Wall, as the border barrier between East and West Germany was torn down after 28 years. Monday, Nov. 9, 2009 marks the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. (AP Photo/John Gaps III, File)
A woman walks in front of empty frames for German wall crosses in Berlin, Germany, Monday, Nov. 3, 2014. German police say a set of crosses commemorating people who died trying to cross the Berlin Wall has been stolen, days before the 25th anniversary of the barrier's fall. Police were alerted early Monday that the seven white crosses on the Spree riverbank, near the Reichstag parliament building in central Berlin, had gone missing. Similar crosses stand at several points along the former border. A group calling itself the Center for Political Beauty claimed it was behind the crosses' disappearance. It said it wants to draw attention to the plight of refugees trying to get across modern Europe's external borders. At least 136 people died between 1961 and 1989 trying to cross the wall that divided communist-run East Berlin from West Berlin. The wall fell on Nov. 9, 1989. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)
In this Nov. 3, 2014 photo original elements of the former Berlin wall are displayed for sale at the area of a construction material merchant at the village Teltow near Berlin. On Nov. 9, 2014, Germany celebrate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the wall on Nov. 9, 1989. After 25 years only a few remains of the wall remind of the about 160 kilometers (about 100 miles) long border which surrounded the west part of Berlin. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
In this Nov. 4, 2014 photo a few meters long part of the former Berlin Wall stands on the 'Cemetery of the French Community" in Berlin. On Nov. 9, 2014, Germany celebrate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the wall. After 25 years only a few remains of the wall remind of the about 160 kilometers (about 100 miles) long border which surrounded the west part of Berlin. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
FILE - The March 8, 1973 file photo shows the Berlin Wall along Bernauer Strasse in the north of Berlin. Writing reads 'The wall must fall'. (AP Photo/file)
FILE - The Sept. 9, 1961 file photo shows East-German policemen in work dress as they remove barbed wire from a brick wall while other policemen in background are raising the wall to 15 feet at the border between the French and Russian sector at Bernauer Strasse in Berlin. (AP Photo/Edwin Reichert, file)
FILE - The Aug. 13, 1962 file photo shows West Berliners waving to relatives in East Berlin one year after the Berlin Wall was erected at Bernauer Strasse in Berlin. (AP Photo/Werner Kreusch, file)
The combo shows the Brandenburg Gate landmark in Berlin with people dancing on the Berlin Wall on Nov. 10, 1989 and 25 years after in October 2014. (AP Photo/Thomas Kienzle, Markus Schreiber)
In this picture taken Oct. 29, 2014, remains of the border at the death strip between West and East Germany are seen in Boeckwitz Germany. It was 1952, and East German authorities were erecting the wooden barrier that broke up the twin towns of Zicherie in the capitalist West and Boeckwitz in the communist East. The two had operated as one for centuries, sharing markets, schools and social clubs, and had long been the site of the Lenz family farm. Nearly a decade before the Berlin Wall went up, East Germany had already started sealing off its main frontier with West Germany, spanning nearly 1,400 kilometers (870 miles), dividing communities and even families. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
In this picture taken Oct. 29, 2014, an original remain of the border that separated the two intimately linked villages Boeckwitz and Zicherie is seen at a remembrance site near Boeckwitz, Germany. It was 1952, and East German authorities were erecting the wooden barrier that broke up the twin towns of Zicherie in the capitalist West and Boeckwitz in the communist East. The two had operated as one for centuries, sharing markets, schools and social clubs, and had long been the site of the Lenz family farm. Nearly a decade before the Berlin Wall went up, East Germany had already started sealing off its main frontier with West Germany, spanning nearly 1,400 kilometers (870 miles), dividing communities and even families. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
United States Secretary of State John Kerry, left, touches the remains of the Berlin Wall during a visits at the Wall memorial site prior to a news conference with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier , third left, in Berlin, Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, Pool)
The combo shows the Berlin Wall along Bernauer Strasse in the north of Berlin with a writing 'The wall must fall' on March 8, 1973 and a part of the Wall Remembrance Monument at the same spot at Bernauer Strasse in Berlin on Oct 21, 2014 - 25 years after the fall of the wall.. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
In this photo Oct. 16, 2014 photo a couple with an umbrella walk alongside an original part of the Berlin Wall at Niederkirchnerstrasse in central Berlin. On Nov. 9, 2014, Germany celebrate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the wall on Nov. 9, 1989. After 25 years only a few remains of the wall remind of the about 160 kilometers (about 100 miles) long border which surrounded the west part of Berlin. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
South Korean President Park Geun-hye, right, walks in front of the East Side Gallery named part of the former Berlin Wall in Berlin, Thursday, March 27, 2014. Park visits the remains of the Berlin Wall and Germany's separations during her three-day official visit in Germany. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
The Berlin Wall - undated photo. (AP Photo)
A historic industry building is covered with a painting and graffiti at the district Friedrichshain-Kreusberg in Berlin, Friday, Jan. 10, 2014. The area which is strongly frequented by tourists is located around the former boarder between East and West Berlin. Lots of the old industry buildings host music and techno clubs and are covered with graffiti and wall paintings. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
A visitor takes a photo of the Berlin Wall at the Wall memorial at Bernauer Strasse on the 52nd anniversary of the construction of the Berlin Wall in Berlin, Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013. On Aug. 13, 1961 the East German government began constructing the Berlin Wall to split Berlin in an east and west part and marking a new step in the Could War between the western alliance and the communistic eastern block. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
Workers attach photos by Kai Wiedenhoefer to the backside of the East Side Gallery in Berlin, Germany, Tuesday July 9, 2013. Eight of his photographs of border and separation walls will be exhibited on the backside of the East Side Gallery section of the Berlin Wall until Sept. 13. (AP Photo/dpa, Paul Zinken)
President Barack Obama speaks in front of the iconic Brandenburg Gate in Berlin Germany, Wednesday, June 19, 2013. Obama spoke on the Gate’s eastern side, across the old border from where President Ronald Reagan gave his unforgettable “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this Wall!” speech in June 1997. This week also marks the 50th anniversary that President John F. Kennedy confronted Cold War tension in Wall-divided Berlin by telling residents, “Ich bein ein Berliner.” (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
US first lady Michelle Obama places a rose into a crack of remains of the Berlin Wall during her visit at the Berlin Wall memorial in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, June 19, 2013. US President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama are on a two-day official visit to Germany. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
Varios policías vigilan un sitio de construcción y una zona de la Galería del Lado Este mientras partes de los restos del ex Muro de Berlín son retirados en Berlín, Alemania, el miércoles 27 de marzo de 2013. (Foto AP/dpa, Britta Pedersen)
People walk in front of the East Side Gallery named part of the former Berlin Wall during a protest against the removal of a section of the historic part of the Wall, in Berlin, Sunday, March 17, 2013. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
A man walks alongside the East Side Gallery a part of former Berlin Wall in Berlin, Tuesday, March 5, 2013. After massive protest against the removal of a small part of the East Side Gallery for the construction of an luxury apartment building the development of the area will discuss againg by responsible politician, investors and the local administration. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
FILE - The June 26, 1963 file photo show US President John F Kennedy walking past a cordon of saluting servicemen and the sentry post of "Checkpoint Charlie" at the West Berlin area near the Berlin Wall. Escorting the President is Brig. Gen. Frederick O. Hartell, right, Commander of the U.S. brigade in Berlin. Partly obscured by Kennedy is West Berlin Mayor Willy Brandt. (AP Photo/file)
In this Oct. 30, 2014 photo children play in front of the painted East Side Gallery, the largest part of original remains of the Berlin Wall in Berlin. On Nov. 9, 2014, Germany celebrate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the wall on Nov. 9, 1989. After 25 years only a few remains of the wall remind of the about 160 kilometers (about 100 miles) long border which surrounded the west part of Berlin. The 1300 meters long East Side gallery, a part of the Wall which separated East Berlin from the river Spree, the border at this area, is the longest still existing part of the Berlin Wall. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
Fireworks explode over the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, Monday, Nov. 9, 2009, during the commemorations of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on Nov.9, 1989. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
ARCHIV - Leipziger Buerger gedenken am 9. Okt. 2007, der friedlichen Revolution von 1989 auf dem Nikolaikirchhof in Leipzig. Die Montagsdemonstrationen in Leipzig und damit der Beginn der Friedlichen Revolution in Ostdeutschland begannen am 4. September 1989. Doch Demonstrationen im Anschluss an das seit 1982 montags in der Nikolaikirche und anderen Gotteshaeusern der Stadt gehaltene Friedensgebet hatte es schon frueher gegeben. (AP Photo/Eckehard Schulz, Archiv) ** zu unserem KORR. APD2864 ** --- FILE - In this Oct. 9, 2007 file photo inhabitants commemorate with candles the peaceful revolution in the former East Germany from 1989 in Leipzig. (AP Photo/Eckehard Schulz,file)
FILE - This Nov. 11, 1989 file photo shows East German border guards looking through a hole in the Berlin wall after demonstrators pulled down one segment of the wall at Brandenburg gate. Monday, Nov. 9, 2009 marks the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau, File)
East German border guards use a hose to discourage West Berliners near Brandenburg gate, in Berlin, Nov. 11, 1989. The citizens from the west tried to demolish the wall, demanding it be pulled down. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)
An unidentified West Berliner swings a sledgehammer, trying to destroy the Berlin Wall near Potsdamer Platz, on November 12, 1989, where a new passage was opened nearby. (AP Photo/John Gaps III)
A West Berlin policeman, right, looks at graffiti on the wall on Bernauerstrasse in West Berlin, Nov. 11, 1989, as photographers await the break through by East Germans who started to dismantle the wall from the other side. (AP Photo/Thomas Kienzle)
FILE - This Nov. 10, 1989 file photo shows East Berliners getting helping hands from West Berliners as they climb the Berlin Wall which divided the city since the end of World War II, near the Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate). Monday, Nov. 9, 2009 marks the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. (AP Photo/Jockel Finck, File)
** PACKAGE TO GO WITH THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE FALL OF THE BERLIN WALL ** THREE OF TWENTY ** FILE - Berliners from East and West crowd in front of the Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate), early morning, Nov. 10, 1989, standing atop and below the Berlin Wall, which has divided the city since the end of World War II. The citizens facing the West celebrate the opening of the order that was announced by the East German Communist government hours before. Monday, Nov. 9, 2009 marks the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. (AP Photo/Jockel Finck)
FILE - This Nov. 10, 1989 file photo shows East and West Berliners celebrating in front of a control station on East Berlin territory, during the opening of the borders to the West following the announcement by the East German government that the border to the West would be open. Monday, Nov. 9, 2009 marks the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. (AP Photo/Jockel Finck, File)
East German border guards watch a bulldozer tear down parts of the Berlin Wall to make space for more border crossing points between East and West, Nov. 10, 1989. (AP Photo/Udo Weitz)
ARCHIV - Luftaufnahme von der Berliner Mauer von 1978. Mehr als 500 Menschen sind waehrend der deutschen Teilung aus dem Westen ueber die Berliner Mauer in die DDR gelangt. Der Historiker Martin Schaad sagte dem Nachrichtenmagazin "Focus",, veroeffentlicht am Sonntag, 19. Juli 2009 allein fuer die Jahre von 1969 bis 1989 habe er 410 solcher Faelle dokumentiert. (AP Photo, File) **ZU APD3189** ** B/W ONLY ** ** FILE ** Arial view of Berlin border wall is seen in this 1978 file picture. Monday, Aug. 13, 2007 marks the 46th anniversary of the construction of Berlin Wall. The agency that manages the records of former East Germany's dreaded secret police has uncovered an order for border guards to fire on escaping citizens that is far more explicit than others on record, an official said in remarks published Saturday, Aug. 11, 2007. (AP Photo, File) ** B/W ONLY **
West Berliners at right watch East German construction workers erect a wall across Wildenbruchstrasse and Heidelbergerstrasse in West Berlin in August 1961. Built with barbed wire and concrete, the Berlin Wall, stretching for about 30 miles, was a Cold War symbol which separated East and West Berlin, preventing people from leaving East Germany. It stood for 28 years as a division between the Soviets and the Allies. The wall was torn down after Communism collapsed in 1989. (AP Photo)
Famous American actor Gene Hackman, right, and his companion Betsy Arakawa take a look over Berlin Wall in the district of Kreuzberg, Monday, March 13, 1989 in Berlin. Gene Hackman stays in West Berlin for shooting to his new movie ?Baggage.? (AP Photo/Lutz Schmidt)
A group of people stand outside a Jewish-owned shop in an unnamed German town in November 1938, after the Kristallnacht, when Nazis thugs burned and plundered hundreds of Jewish homes, shops and synagogues across the country. November 9th is regarded a historic faithful day in Germany as on the same day in 1918 monarchy in Germany was overthrown, in 1939 it heralded the Holocaust and in 1989 it marked the fall of the Berlin Wall which resulted in the German reunification after 28 years of division. (AP Photos)
BERLIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 08: A visitor peeks into the former 'death strip' between layers of the former Berlin Wall next to a former East German guard tower at the Berlin Wall Memorial at Bernauer Strasse on the day before the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Wall on November 8, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. The city of Berlin is commemorating the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall from November 7-9 with an installation of 6,800 lamps coupled with illuminated balloons along a 15km route where the Wall once ran and divided the city into capitalist West and communist East. The fall of the Wall on November 9, 1989, was among the most powerful symbols of the revolutions that swept through the communist countries of Eastern Europe and heralded the end of the Cold War. Built by the communist authorities of East Germany in 1961, the Wall prevented East Germans from fleeing west and was equipped with guard towers and deadly traps. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 08: Former Berlin Wall next to a former East German guard tower at the Berlin Wall Memorial at Bernauer Strasse on the day before the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Wall on November 8, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. The city of Berlin is commemorating the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall from November 7-9 with an installation of 6,800 lamps coupled with illuminated balloons along a 15km route where the Wall once ran and divided the city into capitalist West and communist East. The fall of the Wall on November 9, 1989, was among the most powerful symbols of the revolutions that swept through the communist countries of Eastern Europe and heralded the end of the Cold War. Built by the communist authorities of East Germany in 1961, the Wall prevented East Germans from fleeing west and was equipped with guard towers and deadly traps. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
Spectators pass by balloons of the art project 'Lichtgrenze 2014' (lit. 'lightborder 2014') at the Mauerpark (Wall Park) in the district of Prenzlauer Berg in Berlin, Germany, Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014. The light installation featuring 8,000 luminous white balloons commemorates the division of Berlin where the 25th anniversary of the fall of the wall is marked with numerous events on the weekend. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
Spectators pass by balloons of the art project 'Lichtgrenze 2014' (lit. 'lightborder 2014') at the Mauerpark (Wall Park) in the district of Prenzlauer Berg in Berlin, Germany, Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014. The light installation featuring 8,000 luminous white balloons commemorates the division of Berlin where the 25th anniversary of the fall of the wall is marked with numerous events on the weekend. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
People pass by balloons of the art project "Lichtgrenze 2014" or lightborder 2014, along the Berlin Wall in Berlin, Germany, Friday, Nov. 7, 2014. The light installation featuring 8,000 luminous white balloons commemorates the division of Berlin, marking the 25th anniversary of the fall of the wall on the weekend. (AP Photo/Steffi Loos)
White balloons are installed along the former route of the Berlin Wall, in Berlin, Germany, Friday morning Nov. 7, 2014. They are part of the project 'Lichtgrenze 2014' (lit. 'lightborder 2014') on occasion of the 25. anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on Nov. 9 2014. In background the TV tower at Alexanderplatz square. (AP Photo/dpa, Kay Nietfeld)
People pass by balloons of the art project 'Lichtgrenze 2014' (lit. 'lightborder 2014') next to remains of the Berlin Wall at East Side Gallery in Berlin, Germany, Friday, Nov. 7, 2014. The light installation featuring 8,000 luminous white balloons commemorates the division of Berlin where the 25th anniversary of the fall of the wall is marked with numerous events on the weekend. (AP Photo/Steffi Loos)
BERLIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 08: Visitors walk under a light installation of balloons tethered to lamps along the course of the former Berlin Wall in Mauerpark a day before the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Wallon November 8, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. The city of Berlin is commemorating the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall from November 7-9 with an installation of 6,800 lamps coupled with illuminated balloons along a 15km route where the Wall once ran and divided the city into capitalist West and communist East. The fall of the Wall on November 9, 1989, was among the most powerful symbols of the revolutions that swept through the communist countries of Eastern Europe and heralded the end of the Cold War. Built by the communist authorities of East Germany in 1961, the Wall prevented East Germans from fleeing west and was equipped with guard towers and deadly traps. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 08: Visitors walk under a light installation of balloons tethered to lamps along the course of the former Berlin Wall in Mauerpark a day before the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Wallon November 8, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. The city of Berlin is commemorating the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall from November 7-9 with an installation of 6,800 lamps coupled with illuminated balloons along a 15km route where the Wall once ran and divided the city into capitalist West and communist East. The fall of the Wall on November 9, 1989, was among the most powerful symbols of the revolutions that swept through the communist countries of Eastern Europe and heralded the end of the Cold War. Built by the communist authorities of East Germany in 1961, the Wall prevented East Germans from fleeing west and was equipped with guard towers and deadly traps. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 08: Visitors walk under a light installation of balloons tethered to lamps along the course of the former Berlin Wall in Mauerpark a day before the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Wallon November 8, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. The city of Berlin is commemorating the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall from November 7-9 with an installation of 6,800 lamps coupled with illuminated balloons along a 15km route where the Wall once ran and divided the city into capitalist West and communist East. The fall of the Wall on November 9, 1989, was among the most powerful symbols of the revolutions that swept through the communist countries of Eastern Europe and heralded the end of the Cold War. Built by the communist authorities of East Germany in 1961, the Wall prevented East Germans from fleeing west and was equipped with guard towers and deadly traps. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 08: Visitors look a documentary about the WAll in Mauerpark a day before the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Wallon November 8, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. The city of Berlin is commemorating the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall from November 7-9 with an installation of 6,800 lamps coupled with illuminated balloons along a 15km route where the Wall once ran and divided the city into capitalist West and communist East. The fall of the Wall on November 9, 1989, was among the most powerful symbols of the revolutions that swept through the communist countries of Eastern Europe and heralded the end of the Cold War. Built by the communist authorities of East Germany in 1961, the Wall prevented East Germans from fleeing west and was equipped with guard towers and deadly traps. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 08: Visitors look a documentary about the WAll in Mauerpark a day before the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Wallon November 8, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. The city of Berlin is commemorating the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall from November 7-9 with an installation of 6,800 lamps coupled with illuminated balloons along a 15km route where the Wall once ran and divided the city into capitalist West and communist East. The fall of the Wall on November 9, 1989, was among the most powerful symbols of the revolutions that swept through the communist countries of Eastern Europe and heralded the end of the Cold War. Built by the communist authorities of East Germany in 1961, the Wall prevented East Germans from fleeing west and was equipped with guard towers and deadly traps. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 08: Visitors look a documentary about the WAll in Mauerpark a day before the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Wallon November 8, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. The city of Berlin is commemorating the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall from November 7-9 with an installation of 6,800 lamps coupled with illuminated balloons along a 15km route where the Wall once ran and divided the city into capitalist West and communist East. The fall of the Wall on November 9, 1989, was among the most powerful symbols of the revolutions that swept through the communist countries of Eastern Europe and heralded the end of the Cold War. Built by the communist authorities of East Germany in 1961, the Wall prevented East Germans from fleeing west and was equipped with guard towers and deadly traps. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 08: Visitors walk under a light installation of balloons tethered to lamps along the course of the former Berlin Wall in Mauerpark a day before the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Wallon November 8, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. The city of Berlin is commemorating the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall from November 7-9 with an installation of 6,800 lamps coupled with illuminated balloons along a 15km route where the Wall once ran and divided the city into capitalist West and communist East. The fall of the Wall on November 9, 1989, was among the most powerful symbols of the revolutions that swept through the communist countries of Eastern Europe and heralded the end of the Cold War. Built by the communist authorities of East Germany in 1961, the Wall prevented East Germans from fleeing west and was equipped with guard towers and deadly traps. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 08: Visitors walk under a light installation of balloons tethered to lamps along the course of the former Berlin Wall in Mauerpark a day before the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Wallon November 8, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. The city of Berlin is commemorating the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall from November 7-9 with an installation of 6,800 lamps coupled with illuminated balloons along a 15km route where the Wall once ran and divided the city into capitalist West and communist East. The fall of the Wall on November 9, 1989, was among the most powerful symbols of the revolutions that swept through the communist countries of Eastern Europe and heralded the end of the Cold War. Built by the communist authorities of East Germany in 1961, the Wall prevented East Germans from fleeing west and was equipped with guard towers and deadly traps. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)
German singer Udo Lindenberg performs during a Street Party organized by German government to mark the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, in front of the Brandenburg Gate on November 9, 2014 in Berlin. AFP PHOTO / ROBERT MICHAEL (Photo credit should read ROBERT MLCHAEL,ROBERT MICHAEL/AFP/Getty Images)
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President Bush said the developments in East Germany mean his meeting in Malta with Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev in December will take on "even more importance." He said the changes in the East bloc "make clear that the process of reform initiated by the East Europeans and supported by Mr. Gorbachev and by Americans and by our allies is real."

Secretary of State James A. Baker III praised the lifting of travel restrictions and called it "the most dramatic event in East-West relations" since World War II. But he added that "there's a long way to go before there is true freedom and true political pluralism in East Germany."

In Moscow, Soviet Foreign Ministry spokesman Gennady I. Gerasimov welcomed the decision and said it would help stem emigration and do away with "stereotypes about the Iron Curtain."

Arriving in private cars, motorcycles, taxi, or by foot, many East Germans got their first taste of the West. Most travelers apparently planned to return home.

East German roads were swamped with cars heading for the West German border. But West German border officials said only about one-tenth of the newcomers planned to stay. So far this year, more than 200,000 East German refugees have gone West.

East Germans thronged police stations across the country to wait for passes which officials promised nearly everyone would be able to get.

Thousands more entered West Berlin or West Germany by simply getting a stamp at a border control point, and many crossed into the West beginning late Thursday without any special documents at all.

"We've just decided to leave our jobs for a little while, have a look around and then go back over," said a young East German who went to the West German town of Herleshausen along with four compatriots.

"We don't know what our boss will say about that. Perhaps he's over here too," said the young man with a laugh.

One young East German drove with his child into Herleshausen for a 15-minute visit just to buy a West German newspaper.

"I'm going over to pick up some brake pads you can only get in the West," said an East German motorcyclist as he crossed at Helmstedt, West Germany.

In Berlin, many East Germans just wanted to shop or see the sights. A group of East German workers took turns visiting West Berlin.

"Everybody wanted to go so we decided to do it in shifts," said a young worker who declined to give his name. "But we're still fulfilling our quota of work."

East German border guards abandoned their usually stern demeanor and chatted with throngs of their countrymen filing through border control points.

"You don't have to work today?" one Communist guard said at the Invalidenstrasse control point in Berlin.

"No, I've got the day off," replied the East German who was on his way to the West.

The ruling Politburo sacked four more officials, including one full member appointed just this week, and launched a broad investigation of "gross mistakes" made by the leadership under ousted party boss Erich Honecker.

Honecker, who directed the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961, has been the target of increasing criticism by his fellow Communists since he was replaced by Krenz on Oct. 18. He has been accused of "gross mistakes."

Another long-time East bloc leader, Bulgarian Communist Party leader Todor Zhivkov, resigned Friday after 35 years in which he led Bulgaria through the Cold War and made it the Soviet Union's closest East bloc ally.

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