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AP PHOTOS: The Berlin Wall, and the city 30 years later

November 6, 2019
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This combination of photos shows cars crossing the allied Checkpoint Charlie, top, in central Berlin on April 1978, and visitors stand around the same location on Nov. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
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This combination of photos shows cars crossing the allied Checkpoint Charlie, top, in central Berlin on April 1978, and visitors stand around the same location on Nov. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

BERLIN (AP) — The Berlin Wall divided the city for 28 years, but most of it was torn down quickly after East Germany opened its border in 1989 . Today, only a few stretches of the 156.4-kilometer (97.2-mile) cordon around the capitalist exclave of West Berlin remain.

Communist East Germany sealed off the border in Berlin on Aug. 13, 1961, and expanded the Wall into an increasingly elaborate fortification snaking through the city.

The concrete was only the outermost part of a heavily fortified strip that variously included barbed wire, metal fences, guard towers, hidden alarms and dog walkways.

Western visitors to Berlin could peer over into the no-man’s-land from viewing platforms at sites such as Potsdamer Platz, a square now rebuilt at the center of a shopping district.

There were a handful of border crossings in the center of the city — among them the famous Checkpoint Charlie, where Soviet and U.S. tanks faced off in October 1961.

The Wall has largely disappeared now and much of the former “death strip” — between the exterior wall that faced the West Berlin side and an interior wall that faced East Berlin — has been built over. Among the few exceptions is a strip of the former border in Bernauer Strasse, now home to a memorial museum.

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Follow AP’s full coverage of the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall at https://www.apnews.com/FalloftheBerlinWall