East German who announced Berlin Wall opening dies at 86

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BERLIN (AP) -- Guenter Schabowski, the senior East German official whose cryptic announcement that the communist country was opening its fortified border precipitated the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, died Sunday at 86.

His widow, Irina Schabowski, told the German news agency dpa that he died in a Berlin nursing home.

Politburo spokesman Schabowski's halting words at the conclusion of a plodding evening news conference on Nov. 9, 1989, put an end to Berlin's 28 years of division. Schabowski offhandedly said East Germany was lifting restrictions on travel across its border with West Germany.

Pressed on when the headline-making regulation would take effect, he looked down at his notes and stammered: "As far as I know, this enters into force ... this is immediately, without delay."

East German leader Egon Krenz later insisted he told Schabowski to tell reporters to withhold news of the new travel regulation until 4 a.m. the next morning, so citizens could line up properly to get exit visas.

Schabowski, a trained journalist, said he never heard Krenz say that and it would have been unrealistic anyway.

"It was one of many foul-ups in those days," he said. "We were acting under the pressure of events. I'm just happy that it went off without bloodshed."

For more on Guenter Schabowski​, scroll through the gallery below:

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Guenter Schabowski
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East German who announced Berlin Wall opening dies at 86
(GERMANY OUT) Guenter Schabowski, Journalist (ehem-DDR-Politiker) (Photo by Momentphoto/Robert Michael/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
Picture taken on November 9, 1989 shows spokesman of the Politburo central committee of East Germany's ruling communist party, Guenter Schabowski during the press conference to announce that visas would be freely granted to those wanting to travel outside the GDR. The East German official who inadvertently announced the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 died on November 1, 2015 aged 86, media reported. AFP PHOTO / DPA GERMANY OUT (Photo credit should read DPA/AFP/Getty Images)
FILE - In this Nov. 9, 1989 file photo East German politburo member Guenter Schabowski announces that those who want to visit other countries and then return would still need a visa, but that visa requests would be handled without delay, during a news conference in East Berlin. Schabowski, whose cryptic announcement that the communist country was opening its fortified border precipitated the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, has died, his widow Irina Schabowski tells the German news agency dpa. He was 86 and died in a Berlin nursing home on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Lutz Schmidt, file)
(GERMANY OUT) Schabowski, Guenter - Politician, SED, GDR - press conference at the International press centre in East Berlin, announcing the new travel regulation for everyone (Photo by Mehner/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
(GERMANY OUT) Mielke, Erich *28.12.1907-21.05.2000+Politiker, DDR Minister fuer Staatssicherheit, Armeegeneral, Mitglied des Politbueros des ZK der SED- v.r. ab der Fahnenstange: GuenterSchabowski, E.M., Heinz Hoffmann,Erich Honecker, Egon Krenz u.a. anlaesslichder Liebknecht-Luxemburg-Demonstration auf der Tribuene der Gedenkstaette der Sozialisten in Berlin-Treptow (Photo by P/F/H/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
(GERMANY OUT) 750 years Berlin: Military concert of the National People's Army (NVA) at the Platz der Akademie in East Berlin, from left: Guenter Schabowski, First Secretary of the East Berlin chapter of the SED, and General Heinz Kessler, Minister of Defence of the GDR (Photo by Mehner/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
(GERMANY OUT) Schabowski, Guenter *04.01.1929-Politiker, SED; DDR- im Gespraech mit Arbeitern des Betriebes 'Elektrokohle Lichtenberg' in Berlin- 1989 (Photo by Ulli Winkler/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
(GERMANY OUT) 750 years Berlin (GDR): Military concert of the National People's Army (NVA) at the Platz der Akademie in East Berlin, from left: Guenter Schabowski, First Secretary of the East Berlin chapter of the SED, General Heinz Kessler, Minister of Defence, Colonel-General Fritz Streletz , and Erich Mielke, Minister of State Security (Photo by Mehner/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
(GERMANY OUT) East Germany/GDR: Mikhail Gorbachev, General Secretrary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and Guenter Schabowski, member of the SED Central Committee, posing with little boy during a guided tour in the center of East Berlin (Photo by Mehner/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
Picture taken on January 13, 2009 shows Guenter Schabowski during a debate about the former eastern German state of GDR (German Democratic Republic) in Berlin, in the year of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall. Guenter Schabowski, born in 1929, was a member of the SED (the Socialist Unity Party of Germany) Politburo. On November 9, 1989, Schabowski had announced during an international press conference that was broadcast live that the GDR rules for travelling abroad were lifted. AFP PHOTO PIERRE ROCHAELEOU (Photo credit should read PIERRE ROCHAELEOU/AFP/Getty Images)
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At the time, East German leaders saw opening the Berlin Wall as a relief valve amid huge pro-democracy protests and a flight of citizens to the West via other countries. Instead, it set in motion events that led quickly to German reunification on Oct. 3, 1990.

Born Jan. 4, 1929, in the northern town of Anklam, Schabowski rose through the ranks of East Germany's media after World War II and became the chief editor of Neues Deutschland, the main communist party-controlled newspaper, in 1978. He became a member of the ruling Politburo in 1984.

In October 1989, Schabowski, then the communist party chief in East Berlin, became the first Politburo member to talk to opposition leaders. In another turnaround for East Germany, he also voiced support for "approved and well-ordered" demonstrations.

But amid mounting pressure from the emboldened pro-democracy movement, he resigned along with the rest of the Politburo weeks after the Berlin Wall fell.

Schabowski later became one of the most senior East German leaders to be convicted of manslaughter and jailed for the shooting deaths of East Germans trying to flee to the West.

He served 9 1/2 months of a three-year sentence before being pardoned by Berlin's mayor in 2000. He turned firmly against communism, publicly backing Germany's main conservative party in a 2001 Berlin election.

To see more of the Berlin wall, scroll through the gallery below:

72 PHOTOS
Berlin Wall
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East German who announced Berlin Wall opening dies at 86
An unidentified West Berliner peers over the recently constructed Berlin Wall into East Berlin, Berlin, Germany, August 1961. (Photo by Paul Schutzer/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)
GERMANY - JANUARY 01: At the Berlin wall, shortly after its construction. Photography. Germany. 1961/62. (Photo by Imagno/Getty Images) [An der Berliner Mauer, kurz nach ihrer Errichtung. Photographie. Berlin. Deutschland. 1961/62.]
GERMANY - JANUARY 01: Boy at the Berlin Wall. Photography. Germany. 1961/62. (Photo by Imagno/Getty Images) [Kleiner Junge an der Berliner Mauer. Berlin. Photographie. 1961/62]
GERMANY - JANUARY 01: Two women with a baby carriage at the Berlin Wall. Photography. Germany. 1961/62. (Photo by Imagno/Getty Images) [Zwei Frauen mit einem Kinderwagen an der Berliner Mauer. Photographie. Deutschland. 1961/62.]
West Germans peering over newly-constructed, barbed wire-topped Berlin wall while waiting for relatives to return from eastern sector. (Photo by Paul Schutzer/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
War and Conflict, People, (The Cold War), The Berlin Wall, pic: 26th September 1961, A woman at the barbed wire separating East and West Berlin talking to relatives on the opposite side,The Berlin Wall was constructed by the Communists in 1961 after more than 2,5 million East Germans had escaped to the west (Photo by Popperfoto/Getty Images)
Close-up of a West Berliner as she cries near where an East German woman died in an attempt to leap over the recently constructed Berlin Wall, Berlin, Germany, August 1961. (Photo by Paul Schutzer/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)
Close view of Berlin wall bearing the shadowy silhouettes of seven West Berliners waving to their relatives on the other unseen side of the wall in the eastern sector. (Photo by Paul Schutzer/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Young boy & girl playing soccer next to the Berlin wall. (Photo by Paul Schutzer/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Lone woman walking on sidewalk next to Berlin wall w. the word INTRYRANOS painted on it while the tower of a church looms up just behind it in the eastern sector. (Photo by Walter Sanders/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
The shadows of American soldiers in a machine-gun equipped jeep as they patrol a section of the Berlin Wall along the Spree River in Kreuzberg, Berlin, circa 1981. (Photo by Keenpress/Getty Images)
A section of the Berlin Wall with a discarded multilingual sign reading 'You Are Leaving the American Sector' in the foreground, circa 1981. (Photo by Keenpress/Getty Images)
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BERLIN, GERMANY - UNSPECIFIED DATE: Graffiti on the Berlin Wall during 1989 in Berlin,Germany. (Photo by Francois LOCHON/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - UNSPECIFIED DATE: Graffiti on the Berlin Wall during 1989 in Berlin,Germany. (Photo by Francois LOCHON/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
Picture taken on April 29, 1984 of the Berlin Wall and the no man's land marking the border between East (Soviet sector) and West Berlin (American sector). The Berlin wall built by the East German government to seal off East Berlin from the part of the city occupied by the three main western powers (USA, Great Britain and France), and to prevent mass illegal emigration to the West. The wall, built along the border between German Democratic Republic (GDR) and Federal Republic of Germany, was the scene of the shooting of many East Germans who tried to escape from GDR. The two countries remained divided until November 1989 when the wall was unexpectedly opened following increased pressure for political reform in GDR. (Photo credit should read JOEL ROBINE/AFP/Getty Images)
Various graffiti are painted on the Berlin Wall on the West Berlin side on April 29, 1984. The Berlin wall built by the East German government to seal off East Berlin from the part of the city occupied by the three main western powers (USA, Great Britain and France), and to prevent mass illegal emigration to the West. The wall, built along the border between German Democratic Republic (GDR) and Federal Republic of Germany, was the scene of the shooting of many East Germans who tried to escape from GDR. The two countries remained divided until November 1989 when the wall was unexpectedly opened following increased pressure for political reform in GDR. (Photo credit should read JOEL ROBINE/AFP/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - MAY 2: A panoramic view of the Berlin Wall towards East Berlin at Niederkirchnerstrasse and Wilhelmstrasse in Berlin's district of Kreuzberg on May 02, 1987 in Berlin, Germany. Germany will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which preceded the end of communist rule across Eastern Europe, in November 2009. (Photo by Andrew Wakeford/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - MAY 2: A panoramic view of the Berlin Wall towards East Berlin at Zimmerstrasse in Berlin's district of Kreuzberg on May 02, 1987 in Berlin, Germany. Germany will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which preceded the end of communist rule across Eastern Europe, in November 2009. (Photo by Andrew Wakeford/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - MAY 2: A panoramic view of the Berlin Wall towards East Berlin at Waldemarstrasse and Bethaniendamm in Berlin's district of Kreuzberg on May 02, 1987 in Berlin, Germany. Germany will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which preceded the end of communist rule across Eastern Europe, in November 2009. (Photo by Andrew Wakeford/Getty Images)
GERMANY - APRIL 01: 25th anniversary of the construction of the Berlin Wall in Berlin, Germany In April, 1986-On the night of August 12,13, 1961, the first bricks of the wall were cemented together under the protection of the East German Vopos, army and police. The Berlin wall was completed by 20 000 men, on November 29th 1961. 48 kms long, the wall consisted of 2 rings in which some 10 000 men watched over a no man'sland 100 meter wide. Over the years, sentinels and guard-dogs were slowly replaced by electronic sensors and automatic firing mechanisms. Night and day, guards manned their watch-towers to look at the west. Sensing the 'trap', some 38 000 East Berliners 'crossed' the line in August 1961. The average defection rate fell to 5760 in 1962, and in 1980, only 18 persons made it across. The 'wall of shame' has been responsible for many divided families, many deaths. (Photo by Patrick PIEL/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
GERMANY - APRIL 01: 25th anniversary of the construction of the Berlin Wall in Berlin, Germany In April, 1986-On the night of August 12,13, 1961, the first bricks of the wall were cemented together under the protection of the East German Vopos, army and police. The Berlin wall was completed by 20 000 men, on November 29th 1961. 48 kms long, the wall consisted of 2 rings in which some 10 000 men watched over a no man'sland 100 meter wide. Over the years, sentinels and guard-dogs were slowly replaced by electronic sensors and automatic firing mechanisms. Night and day, guards manned their watch-towers to look at the west. Sensing the 'trap', some 38 000 East Berliners 'crossed' the line in August 1961. The average defection rate fell to 5760 in 1962, and in 1980, only 18 persons made it across. The 'wall of shame' has been responsible for many divided families, many deaths. (Photo by Patrick PIEL/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
GERMANY - APRIL 01: 25th anniversary of the construction of the Berlin Wall in Berlin, Germany In April, 1986-On the night of August 12,13, 1961, the first bricks of the wall were cemented together under the protection of the East German Vopos, army and police. The Berlin wall was completed by 20 000 men, on November 29th 1961. 48 kms long, the wall consisted of 2 rings in which some 10 000 men watched over a no man'sland 100 meter wide. Over the years, sentinels and guard-dogs were slowly replaced by electronic sensors and automatic firing mechanisms. Night and day, guards manned their watch-towers to look at the west. Sensing the 'trap', some 38 000 East Berliners 'crossed' the line in August 1961. The average defection rate fell to 5760 in 1962, and in 1980, only 18 persons made it across. The 'wall of shame' has been responsible for many divided families, many deaths. (Photo by Patrick PIEL/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
GERMANY - APRIL 01: 25th anniversary of the construction of the Berlin Wall in Berlin, Germany In April, 1986-On the night of August 12,13, 1961, the first bricks of the wall were cemented together under the protection of the East German Vopos, army and police. The Berlin wall was completed by 20 000 men, on November 29th 1961. 48 kms long, the wall consisted of 2 rings in which some 10 000 men watched over a no man'sland 100 meter wide. Over the years, sentinels and guard-dogs were slowly replaced by electronic sensors and automatic firing mechanisms. Night and day, guards manned their watch-towers to look at the west. Sensing the 'trap', some 38 000 East Berliners 'crossed' the line in August 1961. The average defection rate fell to 5760 in 1962, and in 1980, only 18 persons made it across. The 'wall of shame' has been responsible for many divided families, many deaths. (Photo by Patrick PIEL/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
GERMANY - APRIL 01: 25th anniversary of the construction of the Berlin Wall in Berlin, Germany In April, 1986-On the night of August 12,13, 1961, the first bricks of the wall were cemented together under the protection of the East German Vopos, army and police. The Berlin wall was completed by 20 000 men, on November 29th 1961. 48 kms long, the wall consisted of 2 rings in which some 10 000 men watched over a no man'sland 100 meter wide. Over the years, sentinels and guard-dogs were slowly replaced by electronic sensors and automatic firing mechanisms. Night and day, guards manned their watch-towers to look at the west. Sensing the 'trap', some 38 000 East Berliners 'crossed' the line in August 1961. The average defection rate fell to 5760 in 1962, and in 1980, only 18 persons made it across. The 'wall of shame' has been responsible for many divided families, many deaths. (Photo by Patrick PIEL/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
GERMANY - APRIL 01: 25th anniversary of the construction of the Berlin Wall in Berlin, Germany In April, 1986-On the night of August 12,13, 1961, the first bricks of the wall were cemented together under the protection of the East German Vopos, army and police. The Berlin wall was completed by 20 000 men, on November 29th 1961. 48 kms long, the wall consisted of 2 rings in which some 10 000 men watched over a no man'sland 100 meter wide. Over the years, sentinels and guard-dogs were slowly replaced by electronic sensors and automatic firing mechanisms. Night and day, guards manned their watch-towers to look at the west. Sensing the 'trap', some 38 000 East Berliners 'crossed' the line in August 1961. The average defection rate fell to 5760 in 1962, and in 1980, only 18 persons made it across. The 'wall of shame' has been responsible for many divided families, many deaths. (Photo by Patrick PIEL/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - OCTOBER: A genaerl view of the Berlin Wall during October 1989 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Marc DEVILLE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
GERMANY - OCTOBER 01: Illustration on the Berlin’s Wall in Berlin, Germany on October, 1989. (Photo by Marc DEVILLE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
GERMANY - AUGUST 01: The Berlin Wall on West Germany side in Berlin, Germany in August, 1989. (Photo by Eric BOUVET/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
GERMANY - AUGUST 01: Rudow Checkpoint: Families, separated by the wall in Berlin, Germany on January 08th, 1989. (Photo by Eric BOUVET/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 09: Breaking through the Berlin Wall for the new border checkpoint after opening of the border on November 09, 1989, in Berlin, Germany. The year 2014 marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. (Photo by Thomas Imo/Photothek via Getty Images)***Local Caption***
BERLIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 09: Woman looking through a whole of the Berlin Wall after opening of the border on November 09, 1989, in Berlin, Germany. The year 2014 marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. (Photo by Thomas Imo/Photothek via Getty Images)***Local Caption***
BERLIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 09: People lining up to cross the former inner German border on November 09, 1989, in Berlin, Germany. The year 2014 marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. (Photo by Thomas Imo/Photothek via Getty Images)***Local Caption***
BERLIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 09: Mass of people in front of the Berlin Wall after opening of the border on November 09, 1989, in Berlin, Germany. The year 2014 marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. (Photo by Thomas Imo/Photothek via Getty Images)***Local Caption***
BERLIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 09: Breaking through the Berlin Wall for the new border checkpoint after opening of the border on November 09, 1989, in Berlin, Germany. The year 2014 marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. (Photo by Thomas Imo/Photothek via Getty Images)***Local Caption***
The Berlin Wall 1961 - 1989, The opening of the Berlin Wall, November 1989. Bernau - East, 9 November 1989. (Photo by British Army Official Photographer/ Crown Copyright. IWM via Getty Images)
BERLIN - CIRCA NOVEMBER 1989: People gather near a part of the Berlin Wall that has been broken down after the communist German Democratic Republic's (GDR) decision to open borders between East and West Berlin circa November 1989 in Berlin, West Germany. (Photo by Carol Guzy/The Washington Post/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Audrey KAUFFMANN and PACKAGE 'Germany-east-History-20years' FILES - West Berliners crowd in front of the Berlin Wall early 11 November 1989 as they watch East German border guards demolishing a section of the wall in order to open a new crossing point between East and West Berlin, near the Potsdamer Square. Two days before, Gunter Schabowski, the East Berlin Communist party boss, declared that starting from midnight, East Germans would be free to leave the country, without permission, at any point along the border, including the crossing-points through the Wall in Berlin. The Berlin concrete wall was built by the East German government in August 1961 to seal off East Berlin from the part of the city occupied by the three main Western powers to prevent mass illegal immigration to the West. According to the 'August 13 Association' which specialises in the history of the Berlin Wall, at least 938 people - 255 in Berlin alone - died, shot by East German border guards, attempting to flee to West Berlin or West Germany. AFP PHOTO / GERARD MALIE (Photo credit should read GERARD MALIE/AFP/Getty Images)
Berlin, Germany: TO GO WITH AFP STORY by EMSIE FERREIRA - FILES - A picture taken 11 November 1989 shows East German border guards demolishing a section of the Berlin wall in order to open a new crossing point between East and West Berlin at the border line near the Potsdamer Square. In the night from 09 to 10 November 1989, Gunter Schabowski, the East Berlin Communist party boss, declared that starting from midnight, East Germans would be free to leave the country, without permission, at any point along the border, including the crossing-points through the Wall in Berlin. As the 45th anniversary of the building of the Berlin Wall nears, a row has broken out about the still unknown number of people who were shot while trying to scale communism's ultimate symbol. Researchers said they have confirmed beyond a doubt 125 cases where people were killed while trying to make it across the wall that went up overnight on August 13, 1961 and divided Berlin for the next 28 years. AFP PHOTO GERARD MALIE (Photo credit should read GERARD MALIE/AFP/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY: (FILES) West Berliners crowd in front of the Berlin Wall early 11 November 1989 as they watch East German border guards demolishing a section of the wall in order to open a new crossing point between East and West Berlin, near the Potsdamer Square. The day before, Gunter Schabowski, the East Berlin Communist party boss, declared that starting from midnight, East Germans would be free to leave the country, without permission, at any point along the border, including the crossing-points through the Wall in Berlin. Germany will celebrate 09 November 2004 the 15th anniversary of the wall's fall. AFP PHOTO FILES/GERARD MALIE (Photo credit should read GERARD MALIE/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 10: Daily News front page dated Nov. 10, 1989, Headlines: FREEDOM!, Twilight of The Wall: Berliners stand and sing and dance in triumph atop The Wall after it opened yesterday., BERLIN WALL comes tumblin' down (Photo by NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
Crowd on W. graffitied side of (fast falling) Berlin Wall topped by lineup of E. German border guards framed by Brandenburg Gate, as borders open. (Photo by Chris Niedenthal/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
E. German border guards poised by graffiti-daubed (fast falling) Berlin Wall, impervious to curious crowd cordoned off to side, as borders open. (Photo by Chris Niedenthal/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
W. Berliners greeting E. kin-folk entering by car at opened border checkpoint as communist GDR concedes inevitable fall of Berlin Wall borders. (Photo by Chris Niedenthal/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
GERMANY - NOVEMBER 16: The Berlin Wall in Berlin, Germany on November 16th, 1989. (Photo by Eric BOUVET/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
GERMANY - NOVEMBER 16: The Berlin Wall in Berlin, Germany on November 16th, 1989. (Photo by Eric BOUVET/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
GERMANY - NOVEMBER 14: Berlin, Germany on November 14, 1989. (Photo by Michel BARET/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
GERMANY - NOVEMBER 14: Berlin, Germany on November 14, 1989 - Germany: West Berlin. (Photo by Michel BARET/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
Pedro Almodovar, Victoria Abril and Antonio Banderas beside the Berlin Wall The director and the actors on the wall during the presentation of 'Tie me up' in the Berlin Film Festival (Berlinale) (Photo by Matias Nieto/Cover/Getty Images)
GERMANY - DECEMBER 17: DDR border patrol looking threw a hole in the Berlin Wall. (Photo by Ulrich Baumgarten via Getty Images)
GERMANY - DECEMBER 15: Mauerspechte ( wall woodpeckers ), Couple is knocking stones out of the Berlin wall. (Photo by Ulrich Baumgarten via Getty Images)
GERMANY - DECEMBER 15: Mauerspechte ( wall woodpeckers ), Couple is knocking stones out of the Berlin wall. (Photo by Ulrich Baumgarten via Getty Images)
GERMANY - DECEMBER 15: Mauerspechte ( wall woodpeckers ), Man is knocking stones out of the Berlin wall. (Photo by Ulrich Baumgarten via Getty Images)
GERMANY - DECEMBER 15: Mauerspechte ( wall woodpeckers ), Tennagers knocking stones out of the Berlin wall. (Photo by Ulrich Baumgarten via Getty Images)
GERMANY - DECEMBER 15: Mauerspechte ( wall woodpeckers ), Couple is knocking stones out of the Berlin wall. (Photo by Ulrich Baumgarten via Getty Images)
GERMANY - DECEMBER 15: Grafitti on the Berlin Wall. (Photo by Ulrich Baumgarten via Getty Images)
GERMANY - DECEMBER 15: Mauerspechte ( wall woodpeckers ), Couple is knocking stones out of the Berlin wall. (Photo by Ulrich Baumgarten via Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER: Two women cry tears of joy as they step foot in West Berlin for the first time. (Photo by Carol Guzy/The Washington Post via Getty Images
GERMANY - DECEMBER 15: Mauerspechte ( wall woodpeckers ), Man is knocking stones out of the Berlin Wall. (Photo by Ulrich Baumgarten via Getty Images)
Marianne Kopper of East Berlin and her husband Wolfgang Spitz of West Berlin wave to photographers, on November 20, 1989 after their wedding ceremony in the suburbs of East Berlin. On November 09, Gunter Schabowski, the East Berlin Communist party boss, declared that starting from midnight, East Germans would be free to leave the country, without permission, at any point along the border, including the crossing-points through the Wall in Berlin. The Berlin concrete wall was built by the East German government 13 August 1961 to seal off East Berlin from the part of the city occupied by the three main Western powers to prevent mass illegal immigration to the West. According to the 'August 13 Association' which specialises in the history of the Berlin Wall, at least 938 people - 255 in Berlin alone - died, shot by East German border guards, attempting to flee to West Berlin or West Germany. The wall was opened 09 November 1989 and has been demolished since then. AFP PHOTO PATRICK HERTZOG (Photo credit should read PATRICK HERTZOG/AFP/Getty Images)
GERMANY - MAY 25: The Berlin Wall in East Berlin, Germany on May 25, 1990. (Photo by Patrick PIEL/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
GERMANY - FEBRUARY 01: Berlin, Germany in February, 1990 - West Berlin. (Photo by Francis CHAVEROU/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
GERMANY - JANUARY 01: New Year Of The Berlin Wall in Berlin, Germany on January 01, 1990. (Photo by Guy DURAND/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY- FILE PHOTO- FEBRUARY, 1990: Two East German border guards talk to a West German police man through a hole in the Berlin Wall, in February, 1990, in Berlin, Germany. The wall that divided the two Germanys was made on August 13, 1961 and lasted 28 years. (Photo by Sven Creutzmann/Mambo Photo/Getty Images)
GERMANY - MAY 03: Girl with bicycle on the former Todestreifen ( area between the two parts of the Berlin Wall ). (Photo by Ulrich Baumgarten via Getty Images)
File Photo: West Germans Celebrate The Unification Of Berlin Atop The Berlin Wall During The Collapse Of Communism In East Berlin On November 12, 1989. November, 1999 Marks The 10Th Anniversary Of The Fall Of The Berlin Wall. East Germany's Communist Government Erected The Berlin Wall In August 1961. The Wall Fell After Weeks Of Massive Anti-Government Protests On November 9, 1989. The Fall Of The Berlin Wall Is Often Described As The 'End Of The Cold War.' East German Border Guards Shot 77 People Who Tried To Escape To The West Over The Wall During The Course Of Its Existence. (Photo By Stephen Jaffe/Getty Images)
393138 04: More than two hundred fifty Berliners ride bikes along the path formerly occupied by the Berlin Wall August 11, 2001 in Berlin, Germany. The Berlin wall, which was constructed in 1961 by the former government of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), will mark its 40th Anniversary on August 13. Pieces of the wall are still standing in parks around the city and are honored as historic monuments. (Photo by Nina Ruecker/Getty Images)
393138 05: Tourists look through a crack in the Berlin Wall Memorial on Bernauer Strasse August 11, 2001 in Berlin, Germany. The Berlin wall, which was constructed in 1961 by the former government of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), will mark its 40th Anniversary on August 13. Pieces of the wall are still standing in parks around the city and are honored as historic monuments. (Photo by Nina Ruecker/Getty Images)
393150 16: A lone piece of the former Berlin Wall stands at Potsdamer Platz in front of newly-constructed buildings in central Berlin, Germany, August 13, 2001, exactly forty years after construction of the wall first began. Built by the then communist government of East Germany, the wall surrounded West Berlin and prevented East Germans from seeking refuge there. Some 200 East Germans died trying to cross into West Berlin over the years. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
Portions of the Berlin wall covered in graffiti stand in a vacant lot at Berlin's Bernauer Strasse 16 November 2004. The Berlin wall (1961-1989), which divided the city, is still mired in controversy as the families of victims who fell trying to cross over to the west have objected to what they claim is a gross comercialisation of the wall. AFP PHOTO JOHN MACDOUGALL (Photo credit should read JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images)
(files) View of a graffiti-covered portion of the Berlin wall standing at Berlin's bustling Potsdamer Platz 01 December 2004. The lonely slab of concrete stands precisely at the spot where the construction of the wall began in 1961. The Berlin wall (1961-1989), which divided the city, is still mired in controversy as the families of victims who fell trying to cross over to the west have objected to what they claim is a gross comercialisation of the wall. AFP PHOTO JOHN MACDOUGALL (Photo credit should read JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images)
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