33¢ Fall of the Berlin Wall
Celebrate the Century – 1980s
Issue Date: January 12, 2000
City: Kennedy Space Center, FL
Printed By: Ashton-Potter (USA) Ltd
Printing Method: Lithographed
At the end of World War II, Germany was occupied by the victorious Allied powers. The nation was divided into separate zones, with East Germany controlled by the Soviet Union, and West Germany administered by the United States and its European allies.
Deep in East Germany, the capital city of Berlin was also divided between the two Cold War opponents. In August of 1961, the Soviets erected the Berlin Wall to stop the mass exodus of people to West Berlin. This massive structure of concrete, barbed wire, and stone cut right through the heart of the city. At least 100 people died trying to get across this barrier to freedom.
The Berlin Wall was one of the most powerful symbols of the Cold War. On June 26, 1963, President John F. Kennedy delivered a speech at the wall in which he saluted the citizens of the city, saying, “Ich bin ein Berliner” (I am a Berliner). President Ronald Reagan stood at the wall in 1987, and challenged the Soviet Union’s leader: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”
On November 12, 1989, after years of discontent, East Germany shocked the world when it opened its borders. Adding to the excitement of this event were the construction crews and groups of citizens armed with sledgehammers who dismantled the Berlin Wall.