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Berlin Wall: Photos from the birth of a Cold War symbol

August 13, 18:17 UTC+3

On August 13, 1961, the East German government began to build a wall between East and West Berlin, the most visible symbol of the decades-long Cold War

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An East German worker lays some of the first stone blocks of the Berlin Wall, shortly after the border between East and West Berlin was sealed, 1961
An East German worker lays some of the first stone blocks of the Berlin Wall, shortly after the border between East and West Berlin was sealed, 1961
An East German worker lays some of the first stone blocks of the Berlin Wall, shortly after the border between East and West Berlin was sealed, 1961
© AP Photo
Berlin's historic Brandenburg Gate was put behind part of the wall erected by the East German regime to separate East Berlin and West Berlin, 1961
Berlin's historic Brandenburg Gate was put behind part of the wall erected by the East German regime to separate East Berlin and West Berlin, 1961
Berlin's historic Brandenburg Gate was put behind part of the wall erected by the East German regime to separate East Berlin and West Berlin, 1961
© AP Photo
An East German couple is turned away from the border, blocked by East German soldiers and barbed wire, after trying to cross into West Berlin, 1961
An East German couple is turned away from the border, blocked by East German soldiers and barbed wire, after trying to cross into West Berlin, 1961
An East German couple is turned away from the border, blocked by East German soldiers and barbed wire, after trying to cross into West Berlin, 1961
© AP Photo/Edwin Reichert
Members of the East German military remove paving blocks on Friedrich Strasse in East Berlin as East Germany tightened the border crossing, 1961
Members of the East German military remove paving blocks on Friedrich Strasse in East Berlin as East Germany tightened the border crossing, 1961
Members of the East German military remove paving blocks on Friedrich Strasse in East Berlin as East Germany tightened the border crossing, 1961
© AP Photo
East Berlin youngsters with toy guns play at being “people’s police” as they look over the concrete wall in the Bernauer Strasse, 1961
East Berlin youngsters with toy guns play at being “people’s police” as they look over the concrete wall in the Bernauer Strasse, 1961
East Berlin youngsters with toy guns play at being “people’s police” as they look over the concrete wall in the Bernauer Strasse, 1961
© AP Photo
East German soldiers patrolling with an armored car watching workers, 1966
East German soldiers patrolling with an armored car watching workers, 1966
East German soldiers patrolling with an armored car watching workers, 1966
© AP Photo/Edwin Reichert
A boy sitting on the shoulders of another child peers at the Liesen Street in Wedding, West Berlin, over the wall towards the eastern part of the city, 1961
A boy sitting on the shoulders of another child peers at the Liesen Street in Wedding, West Berlin, over the wall towards the eastern part of the city, 1961
A boy sitting on the shoulders of another child peers at the Liesen Street in Wedding, West Berlin, over the wall towards the eastern part of the city, 1961
© AP Photo/Werner Kreusch
East German border guards take a ladder back over the wall to East Berlin after correcting the border line between the West Berlin district of Wedding in the French sector and Prenzlau in East Berlin, 1989
East German border guards take a ladder back over the wall to East Berlin after correcting the border line between the West Berlin district of Wedding in the French sector and Prenzlau in East Berlin, 1989
East German border guards take a ladder back over the wall to East Berlin after correcting the border line between the West Berlin district of Wedding in the French sector and Prenzlau in East Berlin, 1989
© AP Photo/Rainer Klostermeier
US President John F. Kennedy views East Berlin, East Germany, from an elevated platform at Checkpoint Charlie along the Berlin Wall in West Berlin, West Germany, June 26, 1963
US President John F. Kennedy views East Berlin, East Germany, from an elevated platform at Checkpoint Charlie along the Berlin Wall in West Berlin, West Germany, June 26, 1963
US President John F. Kennedy views East Berlin, East Germany, from an elevated platform at Checkpoint Charlie along the Berlin Wall in West Berlin, West Germany, June 26, 1963
© US federal government/wikimedia.org
Memorial to the Victims of the Wall in Berlin
Memorial to the Victims of the Wall in Berlin
Memorial to the Victims of the Wall in Berlin
© Lyricmac/wikimedia.org
West Germans peer at East German border guards through a hole in the wall, 1990
West Germans peer at East German border guards through a hole in the wall, 1990
West Germans peer at East German border guards through a hole in the wall, 1990
© German Federal Archive/wikimedia.org
Germans stand on top of the Wall in the days before it was torn down, 1989
Germans stand on top of the Wall in the days before it was torn down, 1989
Germans stand on top of the Wall in the days before it was torn down, 1989
© wikimedia.org
A couple kiss in front of a painting of former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, and long time East German communistic leader Erich Honecker at the East Side Gallery, the largest part of original remains of the Berlin Wall, 2014
A couple kiss in front of a painting of former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, and long time East German communistic leader Erich Honecker at the East Side Gallery, the largest part of original remains of the Berlin Wall, 2014
A couple kiss in front of a painting of former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, and long time East German communistic leader Erich Honecker at the East Side Gallery, the largest part of original remains of the Berlin Wall, 2014
© AP Photo/Markus Schreiber
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An East German worker lays some of the first stone blocks of the Berlin Wall, shortly after the border between East and West Berlin was sealed, 1961
© AP Photo
Berlin's historic Brandenburg Gate was put behind part of the wall erected by the East German regime to separate East Berlin and West Berlin, 1961
© AP Photo
An East German couple is turned away from the border, blocked by East German soldiers and barbed wire, after trying to cross into West Berlin, 1961
© AP Photo/Edwin Reichert
Members of the East German military remove paving blocks on Friedrich Strasse in East Berlin as East Germany tightened the border crossing, 1961
© AP Photo
East Berlin youngsters with toy guns play at being “people’s police” as they look over the concrete wall in the Bernauer Strasse, 1961
© AP Photo
East German soldiers patrolling with an armored car watching workers, 1966
© AP Photo/Edwin Reichert
A boy sitting on the shoulders of another child peers at the Liesen Street in Wedding, West Berlin, over the wall towards the eastern part of the city, 1961
© AP Photo/Werner Kreusch
East German border guards take a ladder back over the wall to East Berlin after correcting the border line between the West Berlin district of Wedding in the French sector and Prenzlau in East Berlin, 1989
© AP Photo/Rainer Klostermeier
US President John F. Kennedy views East Berlin, East Germany, from an elevated platform at Checkpoint Charlie along the Berlin Wall in West Berlin, West Germany, June 26, 1963
© US federal government/wikimedia.org
Memorial to the Victims of the Wall in Berlin
© Lyricmac/wikimedia.org
West Germans peer at East German border guards through a hole in the wall, 1990
© German Federal Archive/wikimedia.org
Germans stand on top of the Wall in the days before it was torn down, 1989
© wikimedia.org
A couple kiss in front of a painting of former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, and long time East German communistic leader Erich Honecker at the East Side Gallery, the largest part of original remains of the Berlin Wall, 2014
© AP Photo/Markus Schreiber

On August 13, 1961, the East German government began to build a wall between East and West Berlin, the most visible symbol of the decades-long Cold War. The history of this concrete barrier that physically and ideologically divided Berlin from 1961 to 1989 —  in pictures.

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