The Berlin wall was a barrier constructed by the German Democratic Republic which started on 13 August 1961, that completely cut off West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin. The barrier included guard towers placed along large concrete walls, which circumscribed a wide area known as the death strip that contained anti-vehicle trenches and other defense mechanisms.
In 1989 there was an erosion of political power in the pro-soviet governments in surrounding Poland and Hungary. On the 9th of November 1989 it was announced that citizens could visit West Germany and West Berlin; This led to crowds of East Germans crossing and climbing onto the wall, joined by West Germans on the other side in a celebratory atmosphere. Over the next few weeks the public chipped and hacked away parts of the wall; the governments later used industrial equipment to remove most of the rest.