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Berlin Remembers Fall of Wall 20 Years Later

On the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Germans celebrated the event that came to symbolize the end of the Cold War. Jeffrey Brown reports.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    And finally tonight: 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Jeffrey Brown has our story.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    The Brandenburg Gate, the renowned landmark that once stood amid a divided city, was alight tonight, as revelers crowded under Berlin's rainy skies. A thousand foam dominoes set up along the wall's former pathway toppled to the ground, mimicking a moment that led to the reunification of Germany and the end of the Cold War.

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel:

  • ANGELA MERKEL:

    For me, it was one of the happiest moments of my life. Ladies and gentleman, it was an epic turn of an era. We know that today. The Germany, the Europe, indeed the world, which were divided into two blocs, were brought together.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined Merkel and past and present leaders of Europe to herald the 20th anniversary.

  • HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON:

    We know that millions of hearts, of minds and hands were behind those who literally tore down the wall.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    German citizens flocked to Berlin, once again the unified country's capital, to celebrate and remember.

  • WOLFGANG REX, citizen:

    The fall of the wall, as well as the anniversary today, is one of the greatest things in my life.

  • RENATE FIEBIG, citizen:

    For me, it is still moving that the wall came down 20 years ago. I'm from West Berlin. And it's still amazing for me that I can travel around now.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    The barrier was first constructed in August of 1961. At the time, the NewsHour's Robert MacNeil's was an NBC News correspondent in Berlin.

  • ROBERT MACNEIL:

    The phone rang about 4 in the morning. And somebody in New York on the desk said, "What's there — what's this about they're closing the border and they're closing the Brandenburg Gate?" And I said, "I don't know anything about it, but I will go and find out." There were only about maybe 25 reporters and a few West Berliners. And the first sign at the wall was giant cement flower pots being lifted into position across the entryways of the Brandenburg Gate. And, then, on either side, barbed wire was being stretched out towards the Potsdamer Platz this way and toward the French sector that way.