Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Fall of the Berlin Wall (25th anniversary)

The 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall (November 9th, 1989) is being celebrated in Berlin this weekend.
Thousand illuminated balloons (along 15 km from November 7th to 9th) commemorate the division of Berlin.
(Image source:

Watch the following videos to find out about the rise and the fall of the Berlin Wall. (You can choose to turn the captions on or off)

Berlin Wall Built (1961) 

In August 1961, troops in East Germany began to seal the border between East and West Berlin. In doing so they blocked off the escape route for refugees from the East. The barrier ended up being 12 feet high and 66 miles long with a further 41 miles of barbed wire fencing. Over the years, nearly 200 people died trying to cross the wall. It became a symbol for the divided world.

Comprehension Questions
  1. When was the Berlin Wall built and by who?
  2. How many zones was Berlin divided into?
  3. What was the western powers' reaction to the building of the Wall?
  4. Why was the Berlin Wall built?
  5. What did it become a symbol of?

Fall of the Berlin Wall (1989)

On November 9, The Berlin Wall fell after nearly three decades of keeping East and West Berliners apart.

Comprehension Questions
  1. When did the Berlin Wall fall?
  2. Where is the Brandenburg Gate located?
  3. What did the guards at the Brandenburg Gate do when the first West Berliners climbed up on the Wall?
  4. What used to happen to the people who tried to cross the Wall in the past?
  5. How did Berliners celebrate the opening of the border between East and West Berlin? 

  • mystification (noun): When you are mystified, you are confused because you do not understand something. e.g. He looked at her in mystification.
  • A flagrant action is shocking because it is done in a very obvious way and shows no respect for people, laws, etc. e.g. He showed a flagrant disregard for anyone else's feelings.
  • If you act in contravention of a rule, a law, or agreement, you do something that is not allowed by this rule, law or agreement. e.g. These actions are in contravention of European law.
  • To make a dent (in something) is to decrease something slightly or to make it somewhat weaker. e.g. It's going to take more than a new law to make a dent in the city's drug crime.
  • If you breach a wall, fence, etc., you make a hole or opening in it so that you can go through it. e.g. The army breached the castle wall.
  • To straddle something means to be on both sides of something. e.g. The mountains straddle the French-Swiss border.
  • If you clamber up/over/into (etc.) something, you climb with difficulty, using your hands and feet. e.g. We clambered up the steep hill.

Deconstructing History: Berlin Wall (

Watch the following video to learn some more facts about the Berlin Wall.

This Day in History: The Fall of the Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall's 50th anniversary