The Berlin Wall – A Street Party With Sledgehammers – Extra History
The Berlin Wall – A Street Party With Sledgehammers – Extra History

Berlin, August 13th, 1961 At midnight, the trucks come. East German troops and workers disembark, lining up behind the white lines that separate East and West Berlin. The soldiers have orders
to fire if approached. Berlin has been divided
since World War II, the communist
German Democratic Republic surrounding an enclave of the western
Federal Republic of Germany. But that division was political. People crossed the border
to work and see family. Couples lived on either side. No more. East Germany
was suffering a brain drain, doctors, lawyers and professors fleeing to the west
via the easy crossing. The embarrassment became
too much for the Soviets. The soldiers string barbed wire, the workers tear up the streets. Four days later,
the first concrete slabs arrive. They’re building a wall. This episode is sponsored
by World of Tanks. Download the game
on PC at the link below and use the code CHECKPOINTC
to claim your $15 starter pack. 28 years later, the wall still stands. On one side, it’s filled with color,
graffiti, political slogans, art. On the other, bare concrete. It’s twelve feet high,
four feet wide, and 87 miles long. It encircles the city, an island linked only to West Germany
by rail, road, and air corridors. But the wall is only one obstacle. Behind it sits a 110 yard “death strip” covered with gravel, the buildings that stood there cleared. Flood lights glare down on it. There is no cover. Machine gun bunkers watch over it and it’s seeded with mines,
anti-vehicle moats, and dogs. By 1989, somewhere between 140
and 192 people had died trying to cross. Five thousand more made it, digging tunnels, ramming through in cars, even floating across in hot air balloons. The wall has become a fact of life. For West Berliners
it was a good place to find parking. Pubs nearby featured photos of West and East Berliners
clinking steins over the barbed wire. And rock musicians,
from Genesis, to Springsteen, to Bowie hold concerts close to it
so those over the wall can hear. The wall, people think,
will not fall anytime soon. Some in the west say it shouldn’t, reunification would be too expensive, the number of East German refugees would wreck the economy. Kennedy had declared himself a Berliner, and the wall didn’t fall. Reagan challenged
Gorbachev to tear it down, and the wall didn’t fall. As the new president
George H.W. Bush comes into office, he’s decided to focus on Asia, deeming European problems too static. Nothing will change there. In reality,
the wall is about to come down. The people who’d destroy it
are mostly unknown in the west. Mid-range communist officials and leaders of Eastern Bloc nations, some looking to sabotage
the Iron Curtain, some to maintain it. But in the end,
the wall would fall by accident. June, 1989 East Germany is in trouble. In fact, communism
is in trouble in general. Nearly bankrupt
from a multi-decade arms race and supporting proxy conflicts, battered from
its invasion of Afghanistan and its image tarnished
by the Chernobyl disaster, the Soviet Union needs change. Its new leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, comes to power with two new ideas; a new economic and
social policy called perestroika, introducing market elements
and reforms to the socialist model, and also glasnost, a new openness of government. He’s hailed
as a peacemaker in Europe, especially after negotiating with Reagan to eliminate a whole class
of nuclear weapons. He talks about giving the governments
of Eastern Bloc countries a freer hand. No one believes him at first. The USSR had previously intervened
to crush opposition movements in countries like Hungary,
Poland, and Czechoslovakia, but nations of the Eastern Bloc realize he’s genuine. It starts to snowball. Poland holds its first free elections
in June 1989, kicking out the communists, and sweeping in
the Solidarity Party. In Hungary, the central committee picks a Harvard-trained economic minister, Miklós Németh, to be Prime Minister. They know he’s reform-minded, but if his reforms fail he’ll make a good scapegoat. But Németh secretly believes that a reformed communist state
will be on economic life support. He wants Hungary to join the west before the rest of the Eastern Bloc, so it gets a few years
of special treatment and development aid. To make that a reality. he has to bring down
the Iron Curtain, be seen doing it. The easiest way to do that is trigger a flood
of East German refugees. He announces, on television, that it’s become
too expensive to maintain Hungary’s border with Austria. International news watches as Hungarian officials
switch off the electric fence. In a meeting with Gorbachev, Németh has telegraphed this move, asking if the USSR would intervene. Gorbachev says no. But the flood of East German escapees didn’t arrive. So Németh pushed it further. He announces a picnic. A Pan-European Picnic, where Hungary would open a gate and allow visitors from Austria to cross and join the fun. A sign of thawing tensions. A ruse for a great escape. Németh holds it
during tourist season, when thousands of East Germans
are vacationing in Hungary. He even busses some in for the event and gives them maps, so they knew where the border is. For safety, you know! Because the border is right there. And the gates are very open. And the guards are so busy
checking Austrian passports you might accidentally
wander into Austria. No one wants that, right? Because Austria is so close
to West Germany. Chaos.
600 East Germans take off at a run, through the open gate. West German officials
and Red Cross volunteers wait on the other side. Hungary, claiming to be “overwhelmed”
by East German refugees lets thousands
cross the border each day. After the East Germans
bar the border with Hungary, the “great escape” spreads
to Czechoslovakia. The West German embassy in Prague gives out asylum visas, allowing East Germans
to cross the Czech-Austrian border and head to the west. By November 9th,
250 000 have fled East Germany. 30-mile traffic jams snarl the autobahn. Mass protests calling for democracy, economic reform,
and the right to free travel, explode in Leipzig and East Berlin. But the East German leader
Erich Honecker, who built the wall and who controls the Stasi, one of the most feared
secret police, refuses to make reforms. When Gorbachev visits Honecker in Berlin, a crowd gathers, chanting: “Gorby, save us!
Gorby, save us!” It’s the moment
Honecker’s subordinates have waited for. They vote him out in a coup, planning to save East Germany with reforms to keep it running
and them in power. The first thing on the agenda? A new travel law. November 9th, 1989
A Press Conference in East Berlin Günter Schabowski,
a communist party boss, reads the press briefing on live TV. He doesn’t realize that this speech, unrehearsed and unscripted, will do what no speech before has ever accomplished. It will bring down the wall. He reads off new dull regulations, saving the new travel law for last. East Germans will be able to apply
at checkpoints to go to West Berlin. They will need a visa in their passport, or a special stamp on their ID card. Next item. “Wait,” said a journalist. “Effective when?” Around Berlin, everyone stopped, staring at the TV. The press release was supposed
to be dated the next day, November 10th. The idea was that people would line up
to get their visas. If Schabowski had known that, and said so, maybe that would’ve happened. Instead,
he just shuffled the paper, found the wording, shrugged and said: “As far as I know, immediately. Without delay.” East Berliners stood, stunned. Then they went. Dropped everything and left. Closed shops,
left telephone switchboards, snatched up passports
and thronged the checkpoints. The first woman at Checkpoint Charlie, crossing to the former American sector, wore a coat thrown over her bathrobe. She had curlers in her hair. They insisted the guards let them cross. Schabowski had said they could on TV. Immediately. Without delay. Panicked border guards
went into their booths and tried to dial
officials for confirmation. There were thousands of people outside. But Schabowski had gone home, unaware of the firestorm he’d created. Most of the party leaders were at the opera. So after a few hours the border guards shrugged. “Okay, open up.” The first people
through the wall didn’t walk, the surging crowd carried them. And they were met by West Germans
holding flowers and champagne. A spontaneous party started. Boom boxes and pop music. East and West Germans kissed, climbed the wall,
chanted to tear it down. They were climbing both sides now, the colorful and the blank. Hammers and chisels came out. People took turns pecking at the wall. It was wild. It went on for days. Woodstock with sledgehammers. The Cold War ended not with nuclear annihilation, but a street party. The celebration did more to undermine the German Democratic Republic than anything else. The images of partying refugees
were hard to dismiss, and weakened East Germany so that reunification became inevitable. Not with a melding of states, but with East Germany
absorbed into the Federal Republic. And the party continued. in a month,
Czechoslovakia’s last communist leader fell to the Velvet Revolution. Bulgaria had ousted its hardline leaders
and called elections. The next year, it was Russia itself. Not everywhere was it easy or peaceful. Street fighting rocked Romania, and the breakup of Yugoslavia would roil the Balkans for over a decade. But considering that Europe
had lived 44 years, divided and fearing world war, it seemed almost unreal how quickly the barriers melted away. Though the wall’s destruction
meant great things for geopolitics, it meant even more to everyday people. Families reunited. East German children tasted oranges and bananas
for the first time. Europeans once again could travel and learn from each other without artificial divisions. They had torn down the wall and could now build a future. Thank you to World of Tanks
for Sponsoring this episode. They’ve been rolling
over virtual walls since 2010, and from the looks
of this tank action, they’re showing no signs of stopping. Literally! If that looks up your alley, download the game for free
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100 thoughts on “The Berlin Wall – A Street Party With Sledgehammers – Extra History”

  1. American Boy1776 says:

    I'm know I'm late but Happy 30th Anniversary to the destruction of the Berlin Wall.

  2. Doodle dragons Toucans says:

    Didn’t they tear it down?

  3. Benoit Chapman says:


  4. ShikamaruXT says:

    What you forgot: the border guards where close to shoot the crouds, because they still had the order to do so.

  5. Roxor128 says:

    I remember seeing this on the news when I was 8. Decades later in 2016, I got to see what was left for myself.

  6. Hồ Chí Minh says:

    Not the biggest deal but Honecker Didnt Build the wall Ulbricht did Honecker Wasnt leader untill 76

  7. bitsnpieces11 says:

    I do remember this, I was 44 and thought "FINALLY"  it's over.  Because I also remember it being built and people being slaughtered trying to get out of E. Berlin.  Oh I'm,  American.

  8. Anna Patricia says:

    My dad went to the wall in the 1980's

  9. Cam Johnson says:

    You guys know that Kennedy actually said "Berliner." Which means doughnut basically.

  10. Foley ._.lionel says:

    THE GERMANS GOT WHAT THEY DESERVED any русский друг here?

  11. Okiedog1 says:

    "Woodstock with sledgehammers" I like that! And David Hasselhoff singing for the crowd. The greatest Christmas present ever.

  12. Zero Worldbuilder says:

    Gives me the feels.

  13. Edmund Lie says:

    I have a ad about berlin in the start of this vid…

  14. Christi B says:

    Hearing about Romania's troubles still gives me second-hand pain from both sides of my Romanian family, though I'm NZ-born.

  15. Joffrey Baratheon says:

    Yugoslavia did fall apart and let’s say that some things are still not resolved

  16. josephskiles says:

    Every once in awhile we humans get something right . I'm glad I was alive during this period of time and I remember watching on TV as a child when President RR gave the wall speach and that's the day I new I would grow up to be a conservative

  17. The Beatles are awsome says:


  18. axel larsen says:

    walpole wapole, walpole everywhere 😀

  19. SPESS says:

    Nikita Khrushchev: we’re gonna build a wall , a huge wall and it’s going to keep out all the Mexicans!!!

  20. killercanadian01 says:

    Is it possible to do a historic look onto Joseph Stalin like look through his entire life you did for Justinian?

  21. PokeShan says:

    10:10 Walpole Licence plate

  22. SOVIET SERVER says:

    I touched the Berlin wall

  23. MisterFudgy PH says:

    Glory to Arstotzka

  24. Al W says:

    If you have to put a wall to stop people from leaving your place, your whole system is probably wrong.

  25. thegamingdragon says:

    as a german this does make you emotional knowing the country you could have lived in and the one you do live in ( coulda been crap) i just want to be clear that im glad off the unified germany i grew up in

  26. Jim Bob says:

    If we band together like this again mabey just mabey we can see a future of hope and were dreams long snuffed out come true and save ourselves from the madness we surround ourselves in if you hope and try as well a few 100 thousand people do as well we can truly chang the world as it did in Berlin

  27. Zane Frohn says:

    What about Pizza Hut being allowed in Russia because of Gorbachev…… Mr. Gorbachev…… Pizza Hut shall succeed

  28. Ciaphas Cain says:

    My father was in East-Germany at the time, he said that there were so many people on the train that it took 2 hours to reach the toilet and get back to his seat, with only 10 meters between them.

  29. Knows History says:

    ughhh…. So inaccurate wrong parts in it.
    Let's call this the "Lies…"-Episode.

    1st) There was not only the Berlin Wall between East and West Germany. The much longer part was a border fortification that ran between the Baltic Sea and Czechoslovakia. That is a very common mistake in Germany too. The numbers of people killed while trying to cross the wall is at least correct for Berlin, but is around 600 dead for the complete border. The escape by hot air ballon didn't happen in Berlin but between the german States of Thuringia and Bavaria. There was a successful escape to West Berlin using a home-build small aircraft though.

    2nd) Honecker didn't build the wall. In 1961 Walter Ulbricht was leader of the GDR. Ulbricht closed the borders (on orders from Moscow) and built the first stages of the wall, but Honecker "improved" the border fortifications over the next three decades making it even more deadly.

    3rd) The events in Czechoslovakia were very much shortened. After the mass exodus via Hungary took place in July and August 1989, the GDR government decided to ban voyages for their citizens to all other socialist countries except for Czechoslovakia, which appeared at this date as a hardline communist country. The West-German embassy in Prague might have given out travel documents at the beginning, but the events took a turn when more an more GDR citizens fled to the embassy. They even climbed over the fence to enter the embassy. By the end of September 1989, around 4000 people camped on the grounds. West German foreign minister Genscher negociated with his colleagues from the GDR, USSR and Czechoslovakia at the UN and came to an agreement: The 4000 people in the embassy would be allowed to travel to West Germany by special trains. These trains then first went back to the GDR (but didn't stop there) before crossing the border to West Germany.

    I appreciate that you made an episode about the fall of the Berlin wall. Maybe you do a whole series about the events of 1989 showing the developements in all east european countries. 1989 was one of the major events in human history and deserve the proper attention.

  30. John Bayani says:

    A piece of history with many of the participants still being alive.

  31. Jaime Leon says:

    Can't help but get emotional watching this.

  32. Luke Munro says:

    10:12, that cars license plate is an abbreviation of the name Walpole lol

  33. Klonosz says:

    Please use the proper name order of cultures and at least try to say names correctly even if its with the help of google translate.

  34. lol hetero says:

    I will love to see a video about comunist romania?!

  35. Nosifer X says:

    This is the way the war ends. Not with a bang, but with a party.

  36. Shane Leskinen says:

    There is chunk of the Berlin Wall at a resort where I live dedicated to every person who died trying to cross on the slab graffiti said “Freedom” and on a plaque said the “ the wall has fallen let this word written on one of the greatest examples of tyranny stay eternal as a reminder which always triumphs over the other” and it always made me think it Diane matter how powerful a tyrant is they all fall we in the last century have seen a dozen rise and fall by there own people

  37. Azelf Da Boi says:

    Partying to bring down communism
    I just imagine a wild house party in North Korea now and I can't stop laughing

  38. lyndon blackmon says:

    My father's aunt had a piece of the Berlin wall.

  39. Aleksandar Vil says:

    East Berliners: 😲🤯 NOOOOO (WAY)!!!
    Honecker and other communist leaders in Europe (east of Iron Curtain): OH NO!!!
    Schabowski: 😶😰 OH NO!!!!
    KOOL-AID MAN: OH YEAH!!!! *breaks down Berlin Wall*

  40. ToxicityHazard-Lvl1 says:

    Probably the one best Black Ops map.

  41. Pedro Moo says:

    Am I the only one who wants to see a complete series on the fall of the wall?

  42. Nicholas Alfisi says:


  43. Michael Enquist says:

    I was stationed at Spangdahlem Air Base from '87 to '90.
    I remember asking my German coworker in June of 1989 if the thought the wall would ever come down. He said, "Never."
    Name a wall in history that wasn't eventually breached, torn down, or just ignored.

  44. BlueDiamond 29 says:

    "Why do build the wall, my children, my children? Why do we build the wall?"

  45. El Presidente says:

    So much people wanted there own piece of the Berlin wall that it was extremly fast deconstructed by sledgehammers and stuff.

  46. AngryGopnik778 says:

    I have to say, your pronunciation of перестройка isn't that bad compared to other videos I've seen. Nice job.

  47. Malacite1 M.P.V says:

    there are so many political jokes I can think of right now

  48. William Achia says:

    EAST germany: aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa im coming aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah

  49. Pete Strong says:

    😢😢😢😢😢😢😢beautiful peace😭😭😭😭😭

  50. Adrian Z Kai says:

    6:41 extra histori in the name

  51. Michael Cmar says:

    And people like to say Socialism works

  52. ruby cooly says:

    Yugoslavia wasn't in the Warsaw pact

  53. Charlie 1302 says:

    1:03 how does he know my name

  54. Chevanco gaming and other stuff Thio says:

    I thought this video existed a year ago

  55. Anti-grammarnazis Action says:

    We’re going to build a wall that will keep in all the east berliners and you now what West Germany’s going to pay for the wall

  56. Youssef Saab says:

    At 10:10, the car in that clip was a Trabant

  57. N / A says:

    I live about 5 minutes from where the wall used to stand. I often ride my bike to the neighbouring district in the East. It's crazy to think that 20 years ago, I would've just hit a dead end.
    My brother even lives in a suburb outside the city now. That would've been unthinkable.

  58. Kevin Aalberg says:

    "Were gonna build a wall its gone be a big and beautiful wall and its gonna keep out all the Mexicans"
    " pspsp"
    "Oh I mean keep in all the Mexicans "

  59. Xenamorph Winner says:

    Lithuanian opposition party after first turn of elections declared independence from USSR without referendum or asking party for letting them to do that.

  60. Matt black says:

    My mother visited West Berlin with my aunt Their flight took off as the wall was brought down. To this day she wished it had been delayed or something. Because she would have seen the friend she had actually gone to see, who had been detained in east berlin because he was a doctor.

  61. J.D.Simple says:

    "Yay! Freedom of travel!"
    Proceeds to stay at home

  62. Jesse Teixeira says:

    How wonderful the Cold War ended. What a shame it had to have a sequel…

  63. Denise Eulert says:

    I had a boss once who was born in 1945, in what became the Eastern sector. When he was still a little kid, his folks moved to the Western sector. Lucky for them! Later they moved to the USA, shen boss was about thirteen or fourteen.. Boy, did that family dodge a bullet.

  64. Thales87 G says:

    This is why the 2006 world cup in germany was so special, a reunified germany on the world stage! Its also when i fell in love with football

  65. Noah Bawdy says:

    I remember when it happened. It was amazing. We never thought it would happen in our life time and I was a man in his twenties.

  66. T P says:

    East Germans today: And everyone lived happily ever after, the end……

  67. nerdyninjatemptress says:

    I wish Trump and his supporters would learn anything at all from the failure of the Berlin Wall.

  68. Parcival Productions says:

    Schabowski: You can go now I think. !You've alerted the civilians!

  69. Michael S says:

    😂😭 best video of the week.

  70. Karl Gustafsson says:

    I was interested in the economy of the wall. When I try to look it up, it looks like the DDR security state started to eat more and more of the nation's resources. It's not cheap running and manning a huge militarized border.

  71. jffry890 says:

    Really makes you think. People literally fleeing Communism at the first opportunity yet retarded college kids think it would be awesome to bring to America.

  72. Daniël Fuhres says:

    The power of the people. ^^
    Wish that people wouldn't forget that when teh government would put in stupid laws and rules that undermine that power. ~.=.~

  73. Kevin Sullivan says:

    My tour of duty in West Germany ended only a short time before the wall came down. I had just reported to my new duty station when it happened.

  74. Calum Spencer says:

    I can't believe David Hasselhoff didn't get a mention.

  75. Sowjanya Tsaliki says:

    It’s sad how history repeats itself

  76. Atomic Hobbit says:

    Where diplomacy fails, bureaucratic incompetence succeeds

  77. Paper Knight says:

    Love this,so much fun,picnic too,

  78. Ravenclaw says:

    I love how one of the most significant moments in history: the end of the Cold War happened because a political made an error in their boring speech

  79. Whozaper says:

    They should have built a roof on the east side. And keep Merkel inside.

  80. Mark Martinez says:

    Mister Gorbachev tear down this wall! Tear it down! Reagan Smash! Reagan Smash!

  81. bnet sucks says:

    Do a Google image search for "Danke Gorbi". It's a photo of graffiti that always brings tears to my eyes.

  82. Gabriel Kowalski says:

    at 6:25 I'm sorry to correct you, but Erich Honecker didn't build the wall, it was his predecessor Walter Ulbricht. He famously said a few weeks before building the wall "Nobody has the intention to build a wall".

  83. charlie putzel says:

    Imagine this in Korea. First, the Chinese pull a Hungary, allowing a bunch of North Koreans to the west. Then Kim dies, replaced by a reform minded successor. He comes to an agreement with the South Korean government allowing families limited access to their families in the south. Some official, talking about this, is asked when these people can apply for the access to cross the border. Unable to find a response, he shrugs and says, simply, "Immediately, I guess." People flood the DMZ, and eventually the guards, having to choose between firing on their own people and letting them through, open the gates and let them through.

    You might say that sounds crazy, but they said the same about the Berlin wall. And many of the arguments against reunification of Korea echo those about Germany.

  84. James Pwyll says:

    I will never not be amazed by just how much history can shift on tiny and easily-missed moments 🙂

  85. *Luna Mxxn* says:

    My great grandmother has a piece of the Berlin wall

  86. Bor Golob says:


  87. Vladislav Sulimenko says:

    More about czechoslovakia please

  88. a_MhetOtw. says:

    Love the untilted goose game reference.

  89. CaptainStink says:

    Kennedy had declared himself a Berlinner.
    Kennedy had declared himself a donut.

  90. Andriyanti Wagianto says:

    Whats that Thing in Gorbachevs head

  91. Donovan Hattingh says:

    Do the fall of Apartheid!

  92. Sharma Ji Ka Launda says:

    It's kinda like North Korea and South Korea only that they never United

  93. Martin Bojanich says:

    Why no spanish subs?

  94. Glenn McGrew II says:

    It's nice to see an episode that was actually about good news. Not to mention, I was a young man at the time.

  95. BoiledMushroom says:

    I am emotional from this how dare you make me feel feelings

  96. Coby says:

    Y’all should do a series on George HW Bush. Interesting guy with probably one of the most impressive political record in United States history.

  97. super waluigi logan says:

    russians: WE need to build a wall

  98. Alexis Jankowski says:

    Wow. I had no idea the rush out of East Germany was this bad.

  99. strawbarry418 says:

    I wasnt there when they opened the borders but I was there when the wall came down.

  100. Sam's Channel531 says:

    Does anyone have video of the deenergization of the Hungary-Austria border wall?

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