Germany is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Thousands of people on Sunday gathered in central Berlin to commemorate the event, which paved the way for Germany’s reunification, the end of the Cold War and the break-up of the Soviet Union.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who grew up in East Germany, is hosting dozens of world leaders, including former Polish president Lech Walesa, Hungarian ex-president Miklos Nemeth, as well as former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who was one of the key figures in the removal of the wall 25 years ago.
Speaking at the opening of a new information center about the wall, Merkel said “The fall of the [Berlin] Wall showed us that dreams can come true. Nothing has to stay as it is.”
The East German government erected the 155-kilometer (96-mile) on August 13, 1961 to end a mass flight of its citizens into capitalist West Berlin.
The wall finally collapsed almost three decades later on November 9, 1989, following a popular uprising across the former communist East. The incident is largely considered a key event in the collapse of communism and a preface to Germany’s reunification in 1990.
Over 100,000 East Germans are thought to have tried to flee the state since the concrete barrier was established. According to reports, about 600 of those who tried were killed with at least 136 dying at the wall.
More than a million people are expected in Berlin for Sunday’s celebrations.