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NATO, 1962

World-class walls

The elaborate barbed-wire barricade became the most visible symbol of the Cold War. Allied-controlled West Berlin was surrounded by the Communist-controlled German Democratic Republic — East Germany. Between 1949 and 1962, almost 2.5 million East German emigrés flocked to the city as a pathway to the West. With the wall and East German soldiers ready to shoot anyone approaching it, only 5,000 East Germans escaped in the next 28 years. The wall evolved into a reinforced-concrete fortification with a parallel, barbed-wire barrier. Throngs breeched the wall in November 1989 after an East German decision to end restrictions on travel to the West. East and West Germany were formally realigned in 1990.

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