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Ten years after the fall of the Berlin Wall

In the ideological struggle that was the Cold War, East Germans voted the only way they could: with their feet. By the thousands each month, they escaped communist rule by slipping into the West through Berlin. In 1961, the East German government built a wall to keep them in. The Berlin Wall became both a barrier and a symbol of the differences between West and East, between democracy and communism. On Nov. 9, 1989, after floods of East Germans had left via third countries, the Berlin Wall came down, paving the way to German reunification.

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Ten years on, there's not much evidence left of the wall that loomed so large in Berlin and in the popular imagination for 28 years. In 1999, Berliners gather at the Brandenburg Gate for speeches and celebrations marking a decade since the wall was breached. But reunification hasn't come without complications. In this CBC Radio clip, reporter Mike Hornbrook describes a Germany that is still divided, with widespread unemployment in the East and a growing resentment of the tax burden it's causing in the West.
• In October 1999 the unemployment rate in the former West Germany was 8.6 per cent; in the former East Germany, it was 18.3 per cent. Nevertheless, Germany had the biggest economy in Europe, one-third larger than its nearest competitor.
  • In May 2008 the municipal government of Berlin introduced a new high-tech way for tourists to find the last vestiges of the Berlin Wall. The rented hand-held unit, which uses a global positioning system (GPS), guides users along the wall's route and describes 22 historically important spots. 

Medium: Radio
Program: The World At Six
Broadcast Date: Nov. 9, 1999
Reporter: Michael Hornbrook
Duration: 3:29
Photo: Will Palmer, flickr.com

Last updated: March 26, 2012

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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