TIME Honduras

Honduras’ Miss World Contestant Found Murdered

Miss World Honduras 2014 and his sister found dead
Miss World Honduras 2014 María José Alvarado in the ceremony of the event in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on April 26, 2014 EPA

María José Alvarado had been missing for almost a week

Honduras beauty-pageant contestant María José Alvarado, 19, and her sister Sofía, 23, were found murdered and buried in western Honduras on Wednesday.

María José was supposed to participate in the Miss World competition in London this week. The sisters went missing about a week ago and were last seen leaving a party and getting into an unlicensed car in Santa Barbara, Honduras — an area known for drug-gang activity, Reuters reports.

Interior Minister Arturo Corrales told media that Sofía’s boyfriend Plutarco Ruiz was responsible, Reuters reports. Ruiz was arrested with another man on Tuesday.

“We are devastated by this terrible loss of two young women, who were so full of life. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of María José Alvarado & Sofía Trinidad at this time of grief,” said Julia Morley, Chairman Miss World Organization in a statement.

In 2013, Honduras was named the world’s murder capital.

TIME On Our Radar

Sebastian Junger’s Fight to Save Journalists’ Lives

Ever since the death of his friend and colleague Tim Hetherington, who — along with Getty’s Chris Hondros — was killed in a mortar attack in Libya in April 2011, Sebastian Junger has been advocating for increased medical training for freelance journalists.

“Most journalists who have salaried jobs get medical training, but freelancers are completely independent and often find themselves in very exposed places,” Junger tells TIME. “They fall between the cracks.” A filmmaker, best-selling author and the founder of a nonprofit, Reporters Instructed in Saving Colleagues (RISC), Junger was inspired to get involved in the fight to save freelancers’ lives after talking with a combat medical officer about Hetherington’s death. The CMO told him that Hetherington could probably have survived his injuries if his colleagues on the scene had had first aid training. Junger resolved to do something to try and help others avoid his friend’s fate.

Junger created RISC in 2012 and has trained close to 200 freelance journalists in the sort of simple and essential medical skills — tying a tourniquet, carrying an injured person to safety, etc. — that, in the field, can mean the difference between life and death.

This year, RISC is holding a benefit auction of photographic prints to raise money to help pay for the training it provides. (Each training session costs $24,000 for 24 New York-based students; overseas sessions cost $36,000.)

This year, 46 photographers have donated prints for the auction, with bids accepted from Nov. 19 until Dec. 3, when the charity will hold a live event at the Aperture gallery in New York City.

Junger hopes to raise $200,000 to sustain the organization and train more than 70 freelance journalists in 2015. “We’re sort of putting it all together each year, and we know we won’t make all of it at the auction,” he says. “But the auction is one way to raise a bit more.”

For more information about RISC, visit the RISC website. The online auction is hosted by Paddle8, with the live event taking place on Dec. 3. Tickets are available now.

Olivier Laurent is the editor of TIME LightBox. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @olivierclaurent


Iraq Accuses ISIS of Stealing 1 Million Tons of Grain

Grain supplies thought to be routed to militant-controlled cities in Syria

Iraq’s agriculture minister on Tuesday accused the extremist group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) of pilfering more than 1.1 million tons of grain from the country’s northern region and delivering it to militant-controlled cities in Syria.

The supplies of wheat and barley were reportedly stolen from Iraq’s northwestern Nineveh Province and routed to the Syrian cities of Raqqa and Deir al-Zor, Falah Hassan al-Zeidan said, Reuters reports. The allegation, which could not be independently verified, came months after a similar claim of more than 40,000 tons of wheat being stolen from Nineveh and Anbar provinces and relocated for milling in Syria.

Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, many of them farmers, have been displaced since ISIS’ lightning offensive throughout the northwest in June.


TIME conflict

36 Million People Live in Modern Slavery, Report Says

Europe has the fewest modern-day slaves

Nearly 36 million people around the world live in some form of modern slavery, according to a new report.

The Global Slavery Index published by the Walk Free Foundation finds that 35.8 million men, women and children live in modern slavery due to incidents like trafficking, debt bondage or forced marriages. Modern slavery contributes to the production of at least 122 goods from 58 countries.

The prevalence is estimated to have increased since 2013, the report notes, but that’s largely thanks to more precise measuring.

Among the findings: The continents with the most difficulty eradicating slavery are Africa and Asia; Europe has the fewest modern-day slaves; and the nations with governments making strong efforts to prevent slavery despite low resources are Georgia, the Philippines, Jamaica and Macedonia. Beyond that, all countries except North Korea have legislation criminalizing some form of modern slavery.

Here are the top 10 countries with the highest prevalence of modern slavery:

1. Mauritania
2. Uzbekistan
3. Haiti
4. Qatar
5. India
6. Pakistan
7. Democratic Republic of the Congo
8. Sudan
9. Syria
10. Central African Republic

Read the full report.

TIME conflict

Why Were Activists 45 Years Ago Protesting ‘Against Death?’

March Against Death
Wearing the name of a serviceman who died in Vietnam, a marcher pauses in front of the White House on Nov. 14, 1969 AP Images

It had nothing to do with immortality

On the night of Thursday, Nov. 13, 1969, the “March Against Death” began. By the time that weekend was over, Washington, D.C., had seen more protesters than any single event in its history had drawn. Attendance was higher, by tens of thousands, than at the 1963 Civil Rights March on Washington. And despite a name that, 45 years later, may seem overblown or vague, the march was actually about something very specific.

The deaths they were protesting were those of soldiers and civilians in Vietnam.

As TIME reported in the Nov. 21, 1969, issue:

Disciplined in organization, friendly in mood, [the march] started at Arlington National Cemetery, went past the front of the White House and on to the west side of the Capitol. Walking single file and grouped by states, the protesters carried devotional candles and 24-in. by 8-in. cardboard signs, each bearing the name of a man killed in action or a Vietnamese village destroyed by the war. The candles flickering in the wind, the funereal rolling of drums, the hush over most of the line of march—but above all, the endless recitation of names of dead servicemen and gutted villages as each marcher passed the White House —were impressive drama: “Jay Dee Richter” . . . “Milford Togazzini” . . . “Vinh Linh, North Viet Nam” . . . “Joseph Y. Ramirez.” At the Capitol, each sign was solemnly deposited in one of several coffins, later conveyed back up Pennsylvania Avenue in the Saturday march.

Mrs. Judy Droz, 23, of Columbia, Mo., was chosen to walk first in the March Against Death. Her husband, a Navy officer, died in Viet Nam last spring. “I have come to Washington to cry out for liberty, for freedom, for peace,” she said. The New Mobe [New Mobilization Committee to End the War in Viet Nam] organizers had recruited others who had lost loved ones in the war, but some gold-star families wanted none of it. In Philadelphia and Dallas, groups of mothers and widows of G.I.s killed in combat obtained court orders to bar use of the men’s names by the protesters.

Another march took place that Saturday, capped by speeches and musical performances watched by at least 250,000 people. A connected event in San Francisco also drew record crowds for that city.

Read the full story here, in TIME’s archives: Parades for Peace and Patriotism

TIME conflict

How Veterans Day Came to Be

World War One Armistice
A military parade in celebration of Armistice day following World War One, New York, 1918. Paul Thompso—FPG / Getty Images

It was almost 'Mayflower Day'

On Nov. 11, many years ago, a group of men gathered in a transport to sign a document with vast repercussions for the world.

This wasn’t the signing of the Armistice in a train car in France on Nov. 11, 1918, which brought World War 1 hostilities to an end; that happened centuries later. This was the signing of the Mayflower Compact, on the ship of the same name, that in 1620 established governing rules for the Plymouth Colony, one of the earliest settlements in North America.

The date of the Mayflower Compact signing has largely been eclipsed by the Armistice, which ended a war that killed more than 16 million people, including over 100,000 Americans. After the conflict, Americans commemorated the moment “from coast to coast and frontier to frontier,” as TIME wrote in 1927. Congress officially dubbed the date Armistice Day in 1926 and made it a national holiday in 1938.

But creating a formal holiday soon looked tragically premature. Nazi Germany invaded Poland a year later, unleashing the Second World War and shattering the tenuous peace wrought by the Armistice. Even before the United States entered the war, Armistice Day felt obsolete here. “To many Americans the events of the last 15 months have made the Armistice seem less important and less worthy of a national holiday,” TIME wrote in an article in November 1940. “So last week Dr. Francis Carr Stifler, editorial secretary of the American Bible Society, suggested that it would be far more appropriate to celebrate the anniversary of the Mayflower Compact this Monday.”

Stifler called the Mayflower Compact “the cornerstone on which stand the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.”

His proposal didn’t take hold, but the sentiment remained. How could America commemorate the end of World War I when a conflict less than two decades later mobilized 16.5 million Americans and cost the lives of 400,000? On Nov. 11, 1947, World War II veteran Raymond Weeks organized a parade in Birmingham that honored all veterans. (Memorial Day, a much older holiday, commemorates Americans who have died in the armed services.) Dubbed “National Veterans Day,” that occasion is credited as the first celebration using the term Veterans Day, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

U.S. Representative Edward Rees of Kansas soon proposed changing the official name of the Nov. 11 holiday from Armistice Day to Veterans Day, and Congress renamed the Nov. 11 holiday in 1954.

The official date would go through one more makeover. Veterans Day was swept up in a movement by the federal government, under pressure from the travel industry, to shift national holidays to Monday and allow for more three-day weekends. In 1968, Congress rescheduled Washington’s Birthday (later known as Presidents’ Day), Memorial Day, Columbus Day and Veterans Day to fall consistently on Mondays. But as the VA writes, ” November 11 was a date of historic significance to many Americans.” Congress shifted the official holiday back to Nov. 11 in 1978.

Read the 1927 story about how the winners and losers of World War I observed Armistice Day: Armistice

TIME Media

How Journalists Helped to Open the Berlin Wall

News of German Television Broadcasting on 09 November 1989
GDR television informs the population about new travelling rules for GDR citizens in the news programme 'Aktuelle Kamera' on the evening of Nov. 9, 1989. DB/picture-alliance/AP Images

"The world press not only covered the dramatic events but actually helped to cause them as well"

Twenty-five years ago, the Berlin Wall opened — suddenly, joyously, peacefully. On this important anniversary, the world press is once again full of images of this astounding, unexpected development. These images remind readers, viewers and listeners of the excitement of that time.

One of the most interesting aspects of autumn 1989 is the way that the world press not only covered the dramatic events but actually helped to cause them as well. There were three particularly crucial times when members of the media actually help to drive the events that they were covering — moments when the news reports made the news.

The first was not in Berlin but in another East German city, Leipzig. It took place a month earlier, on Oct. 9, 1989. The events in this provincial city near the Czech border may have been physically remote from Berlin, but they were crucial steps on the path to the opening of the Wall a month later.

In Leipzig, as in the rest of the country, the East German ruling regime was trying to maintain its dictatorial control – despite the reforms introduced by the leader of the Soviet Bloc, Mikhail Gorbachev. The East German rulers were not interested in such reforms, however, and brutally repressed protests. Despite the violence, a pattern of regular protest marches had nonetheless emerged. By October, these Leipzig marches were taking place every Monday night. While this fixed schedule meant that protesters knew when and where to turn up, it also meant that the dictators’ security forces also knew when and where to deploy.

It soon became apparent to all involved that the night of Monday, Oct. 9, would be the showdown. The regime planned a Tiananmen-level event. It hoped not only to suppress all dissent but also to keep the suppression quiet. The dictators anticipated success on both counts, having at least 8,000 armed men at their disposal and full control over the state media.

Meanwhile, dissidents knew that they had two jobs: they had to protest — and they had to get word about their protest out to the West. So, even as opposition leaders made plans for the enormous march that night around the ring road encircling the heart of Leipzig, another group of dissidents made their own plans: to film the protest march secretly, despite heavy surveillance, and then smuggle the video out to the West.

The night of Oct. 9 turned out to be a major triumph for the protesters. Their sheer numbers — at least 100,000 — intimidated the security forces, who withdrew without using their weapons. And the secret videotaping succeeded as well. Protesters smuggled a videocassette showing the security forces’ retreat out to West German television stations, which broadcast it on news shows that could also be received in East Germany. The images made plain to ordinary people throughout the country that their regime was in retreat, something they would not have learned from their own media. Learning of the retreat, more people gained the courage to protest in their own hometowns, thus increasing pressure on the dictators. It is not too much to say that these press reports helped to hasten the end of the dictatorship.

The second time the world press both covered and influenced events was on the night of Nov. 9 in divided Berlin. That night, coincidentally the anniversary of the major Nazi pogrom against Jews known as “Kristallnacht,” was about to become famous for another reason. At a press conference televised live, a member of the East German Politburo announced what were meant to be minor changes to travel regulations. They were only supposed to sound good — not to produce actual, significant change.

That would have been the case, had he not botched the announcement. In and of itself, a Politburo member making a hash of a statement was nothing new. His mistakes would have been insignificant, but for the presence of the world media at the press conference where he made them. Before the Politburo member even finished speaking, wire reporters — the people who got the news out fastest in the pre-internet era — rushed out of the room to file reports saying that the Berlin Wall was open. It wasn’t, but average East Germans heard this coverage from Western broadcasters. Even though many of them doubted that it was true, they decided to go to the checkpoints in the Berlin Wall and on the border between the two Germanies to push the matter. Had the media reports not aired, this would not have happened, so the media once again drove the news.

The third and final impact of the media on events was the most significant. The border guards at the checkpoints in the Berlin Wall, stunned by the press conference, double-checked with their superior officers whether what the Politburo member had said was accurate. In return, they received confirmation that the Wall was still firmly closed. Yet the crowds kept coming and growing larger. Overwhelmed by the sheer number of people demanding to get out and fearing that they might be overrun, the guards decided at one particular border crossing, Bornholmer Street, decided to open the gates under their control.

This was their individual decision; they had no regular communication with the other checkpoints. Working for a highly centralized regime, they were supposed to communicate with their superiors, not improvise orders among themselves. The Bornholmer opening might have stayed isolated — but, once again, for the impact of press coverage.

Images of East Germans flooding through the Bornholmer crossing quickly hit the airwaves. Seeing these images and hearing reports of them, other border guards at other crossings became motivated to open their own border crossings as well. In the wee hours of Nov. 10, in an ad hoc, uncoordinated fashion, one border crossing after another opened.

Thus, as the world continues to celebrate the legacy of these happy developments, it should remember the important impact of journalists, who — at times unwittingly — helped to cause the peaceful, successful opening of the Berlin Wall. Put bluntly: journalists in 1989 both covered and helped to cause a peaceful revolution. One can only hope that they can be so helpful to the peaceful protesters of today.

Basic Books

Mary Elise Sarotte is the author of the new book The Collapse: The Accidental Opening of the Berlin Wall. She is Dean’s Professor of History at the University of Southern California and a visiting professor of government and history at Harvard University.

TIME conflict

Quiz: Test Your Berlin Wall Knowledge

West Germans Celebrate The Unification Of Berlin Atop The Berlin Wall During The Collaps
West Germans celebrate atop the Berlin Wall on Nov. 12, 1989. Stephen Jaffe—Getty Images

For the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, see how much you remember about it

The Berlin Wall began to come down 25 years ago this weekend, on Nov. 9, 1989. Now that so many years have passed, how much do you remember about the wall and the events surrounding it?

Test your knowledge with this quiz — extra points if you don’t use our Berlin Wall history timeline to cheat.

Read TIME’s 1989 cover story about the fall of the Berlin Wall here in the archives: Freedom!

TIME Media

Witness to History: Reporters Recall the Berlin Wall’s Fall

'1989 was a year no one expected to be very interesting, and it turned out to be just revolutionary'

Something was about to happen. But, 25 years ago, it wasn’t clear just what that would be.

There had been hints of a thaw in the Cold War. There were reasons to think that, after nearly three decades divided, Germany might be ready to reunite. There had also been plenty of false alarms. Ken Olsen, who was a stringer for TIME based in Bonn, Germany, had only been in the country a few months and barely spoke German when he was summoned to have dinner with the chief of the magazine bureau, James Jackson. He was told to go home and pack his bags for Berlin. Sure, nobody knew what was about to happen — but somebody had to be there just in case.

That was Monday or Tuesday night, recalls Olsen, now an editor at the Los Angeles Times. When he reached Berlin, there was just as much confusion. He attached himself to some friends who were with the Associated Press German Service and, for about a day, they waited.

Until Thursday night. That evening, an East German official giving a televised press conference announced that the government had decided to allow citizens to cross to West Germany, through the Berlin Wall. He was asked when the change would come into effect. “I remember he said sofort,” Olsen recalls. “Immediately.”

The announcement was an offhand one, not presented as a world-changing decision, but everyone watching knew what it meant: if the Berlin Wall wasn’t keeping East Berliners on their side, which was the whole reason it existed, it might as well not even be there. The concrete was as strong as ever, but, if the announcement turned into reality, the Berlin Wall had effectively crumbled.

Olsen and his friends ended up at Checkpoint Charlie, the crossing point in the American sector of West Berlin, where they waited with the crowd of West Berliners who had gathered to see what would happen. Something had happened, but even the people who were there at the scene were still confused. The border guards had heard what had been said on TV too, and at midnight they began to let the people through, to be greeted by jubilant West Germans handing them money and patting them on the back. “They were screaming, Tor auf! Tor auf! Open the gate!” Olsen says. “At one point the crowd was throwing a hat — I remember this too, it’s funny the things you remember — a hat was coming back and they were picking it up and throwing it through the crowd and I asked Jurgen, the AP guy I was with, what is that? He said, it looks like a border guard hat.” One couple Olsen met hadn’t even intended to come over to the Western side; they said they had to get back, as they had only meant to go out for a walk and their child was at home sleeping.

Though the crowds were still celebrating, Olsen went back to his hotel to file his story. The lobby was filled with East Germans — they were snatching up all the rental-car brochures to read, he recalls, and waiting for stores to open so they could take a look before going home — but he went upstairs to his little TRS-80 computer and modem. He calculated that there would only be about two days before TIME had to go to the printer, so he began sending a stream of consciousness report of his impressions from that day. “I was a little worried about it,” he admits. “It wasn’t a very coherent file.”

Meanwhile, in the U.S., Berlin’s confusion appeared to be contagious, even as television reports started to come in. It was the afternoon, recalls Michael Duffy, now TIME’s Deputy Managing Editor, who was then at the White House with President Bush.

As Duffy’s report on the event made clear, Bush was calm and careful not to seem to excited by an event that could have, at that point, gone in any direction. Just as importantly, Duffy recalls, Bush knew that whatever had happened was progress — and that back-patting from the West could have undone it. “We’d spent billions and billions of dollars, we’d gone to the moon, we’d built three different kinds of nuclear weapons, an entire nation and two generations were involved in this effort, and here it was, we were winning not with a bang but with a whimper, quietly on a November afternoon,” he recalls. “There wasn’t anything anyone could do, under Bush’s plan. We couldn’t stand up and say, ‘Yeah, we won!’ We had to sort of sit there on our hands, because we didn’t want to reverse the tide. But that was an amazing piece of forbearance by Bush.” Though people on the right and the left alike criticized the President for not celebrating the fall of the Wall, hindsight vindicated the decision to, as the president put it, not gloat.

It took a day before the President — as TIME phrased it when using Duffy’s report from Washington — “realized he had badly underplayed a historic event.” In a speech that day, he spoke of how moved he was by the photos coming out of Berlin at that time.

“1989 was a year no one expected to be very interesting,” Duffy says, “and it turned out to be just revolutionary.”

By that time, clarity had come to Germany as well. Ken Olsen, so worried that his report from the scene would be uselessly incoherent, had begun getting questions from George Church, who wrote the magazine’s cover story on the fall of the wall. He knew then, he says, that he’d succeeded in what he had set out to do: being there, just in case, to see what would happen.

Church’s article, which used Olsen’s and Duffy’s reporting, was that week’s cover story.

“The next day it was this bright, clear, blindingly sunny day,” Olsen recalls. He went out to one of the crossings, where somebody had laid planks for East Berliners to use to cross the sand of the death strip and move from East to West. A crowd of older West Germans stood there, applauding as their neighbors came over. Though Olsen says that lots of the rest of that time is fuzzy, 25 years later, he remembers that day like it was yesterday. “I think I realized at that point, This is done. I don’t know what’s going to go on with reunification, but the wall is history,” he says. “It’s over.”

Read more about the fall of the Berlin Wall here in TIME’s archives, where the Nov. 20, 1989, cover story is now available.

TIME Media

9 Essential Berlin Wall Stories

As the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall approaches, look back at its history from beginning to end

From the Aug. 31, 1962, issue of TIME

For a structure that stood only about 12 ft. high, the Berlin Wall left quite a mark on modern history. Throughout the 28 years during which it endured, TIME followed the wall’s surprise construction, those who died attempting to get across, and finally its fall and aftermath.

You can trace that tale through our timeline of the Berlin Wall’s history or, below, read how the wall went down in the words of those who were watching it happen:

Aug. 25, 1961: Berlin: The Wall

The Berlin Wall went up quickly and with no warning on Aug. 13, 1961. Though it was at that point less a wall than a fence, it startled the world. For nearly a decade, Berlin — a divided city situated within the Eastern portion of a divided country — had been the easiest way to cross from East Germany to West, but the East had been facing a dwindling population and took drastic measures despite earlier promises to preserve freedom of movement:

The scream of sirens and the clank of steel on cobblestones echoed down the mean, dark streets. Frightened East Berliners peeked from behind their curtains to see military convoys stretching for blocks. First came the motorcycle outriders, then jeeps, trucks and buses crammed with grim, steel-helmeted East German troops. Rattling in their wake were the tanks — squat Russian-built T-34s and T-54s. At each major intersection, a platoon peeled off and ground to a halt, guns at the ready. The rest headed on for the sector border, the 25-mile frontier that cuts through the heart of Berlin like a jagged piece of glass. As the troops arrived at scores of border points, cargo trucks were already unloading rolls of barbed wire, concrete posts, wooden horses, stone blocks, picks and shovels. When dawn came four hours later, a wall divided East Berlin from West for the first time in eight years.

Aug. 31, 1962: Wall of Shame (see map at top)

A year later, protests erupted in West Berlin, sparked by cruel treatment of an attempted escapee named Peter Fechter — who was shot and left to bleed in the no-man’s-land between the two sides. TIME explored whether extended violence and further protest was likely to become a constant in the divided city, finding that many Berliners believed such an outcome unlikely but felt that the Wall would stand for the rest of their lives:

In flat, open country within the city’s northern boundary, the land to the west is checkered with brown wheatfields and lush, green, potato gardens. Eastward stretches a no-man’s land where once fertile fields lie desolate and deathly still. They could be in two different worlds—and, in a sense, they are. Even the countryside outside Berlin is divided into East and West by a vicious, impenetrable hedge of rusty barbed wire and concrete. As itsnakes southward toward the partitioned city, it becomes the Wall.

Seldom in history have blocks and mortar been so malevolently employed or sorichly hated in return. One year old this month, the Wall of Shame, as it is often called, cleaves Berlin’s war-scarred face like an unhealed wound; its hideousness offends the eye as its inhumanity hurts the heart. For 27 miles it coils through the city, amputating proud squares and busy thoroughfares, marching insolently across graveyards and gardens, dividing families and friends, transforming whole street-fronts into bricked-up blankness. “The Wall,” muses a Berlin policeman, “is not just sad. It is not just ridiculous. It is schizophrenic.”

Aug. 18, 1986: East-West Tale of a Sundered City by Jill Smolowe

On the 25th anniversary of the wall’s construction, TIME checked in on the city and found that Germans on the two sides of the Wall had evolved into two very different groups of people. West Berlin was more modern, East Berlin was quieter, their economies were distinct — but Berliners from both sides still harbored hopes that they would one day be reunited. Even with a quarter-century of division under their belt, they felt that they could all get along:

West Berliners have managed to make an uneasy peace with the monstrous Wall. Almost every Berliner’s emotional survival kit includes a wisecracking sense of humor. Standard encounter: an American, returning to Berlin after 60 years, asks his taxi driver to run down the events during his absence. Responds the driver: “The Nazis came, the war came, the Russians came. You didn’t miss much.” No less mordant are the graffiti spray-painted on the western side of the Wall. ALL IN ALL, YOU’RE JUST ANOTHER BRICK IN THE WALL, reads one bit of wisdom. DONALD DUCK FOR PRESIDENT, declares another. One of the newest decorations is a purple cake, divided in two by a brown wall. The inscription: HAPPY 25TH BIRTHDAY.

There are no clever messages on the eastern side of the Wall. East German officials regard the barricade with pride. To celebrate its anniversary, they plan to stage a parade and have already issued a commemorative postage stamp. “Since its construction,” says Karl-Heinz Gummich, a representative in the East German Tourist Office, “the economy has grown strong, relations with West Germany have been stabilized, and the threat of war has been removed.”

June 22, 1987: Back to the Berlin Wall by George J. Church

The Berlin Wall had already been the site of much speechifying when President Ronald Reagan appeared there in 1987 — but by that point, something that changed. In the USSR, the words glasnost and perestroika had entered the political vocabulary. Mikhail Gorbachev spoke of openness, and his influence in East Germany presented a glimmer of hope that the Berlin Wall might not be forever. Reagan urged that hope on with one of the most famous lines of his career: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this Wall.”

Before an audience estimated at 20,000, the President rose to the occasion. Referring to the city’s division and deliberately inviting comparison with John F. Kennedy’s famed “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech in 1963, Reagan expressed “this unalterable belief: es gibt nur ein Berlin” (there is only one Berlin). Taking note of the violent demonstrations against U.S. foreign policy that swirled through West Berlin before his arrival, Reagan asserted, “I invite those who protest today to mark this fact: because we remained strong, the Soviets came back to the table” and are on the verge of a treaty “eliminating, for the first time, an entire class of nuclear weapons.”

Oct. 16, 1989: Freedom Train by William R. Doerner

On the occasion of Eat Germany’s 40th birthday, the Berlin Wall had begun to lose its oomph. Originally meant to prevent traffic between the two sides of the city, it was made far less effective when it became possible to get to West Germany by other routes:

So far this year, more than 110,000 East Germans have left, far and away the most since the Berlin Wall went up in 1961. Slightly more than half have departed with official permission, a sign that the Honecker regime has been forced to relax its policy of limiting emigration to the elderly and a few political dissidents. According to West German officials, some 1.8 million East Germans — more than 10% of the population — have applied to leave, despite the risk of job and educational discrimination.

But growing numbers refuse to wait for permission. In August and September, more than 30,000 vacationers took advantage of the newly opened border between Hungary and Austria to cross into West Germany. East Berlin tightened controls on travel to Hungary, yet new refugees continue to slip over at the rate of 200 to 500 a day. Hungary has rejected any suggestion that it close its borders.

Nov. 20, 1989: Freedom! by George J. Church

Until the Wall fell at midnight on Nov. 9, 1989 — losing its power as suddenly as it had gone up, though it would take many months for the concrete to be dismantled — TIME had been planning to run a cover story about the election of the first black governor in the United States, Doug Wilder of Virginia. But, as then-managing editor Henry Muller recounted in a letter to readers, “then came the stunning announcement that East Germans be allowed to travel through the Berlin Wall and would be granted freer elections as well. Bonn bureau chief Jim Jackson called me to urge that we change the cover, but my fellow editors and I hardly needed to be persuaded.” The result was 12 pages of reporting and photography and, as Muller put it, “history as it is made, each day and each week”:

What happened in Berlin last week was a combination of the fall of the Bastille and a New Year’s Eve blowout, of revolution and celebration. At the stroke of midnight on Nov. 9, a date that not only Germans would remember, thousands who had gathered on both sides of the Wall let out a roar and started going through it, as well as up and over. West Berliners pulled East Berliners to the top of the barrier along which in years past many an East German had been shot while trying to escape; at times the Wall almost disappeared beneath waves of humanity. They tooted trumpets and danced on the top. They brought out hammers and chisels and whacked away at the hated symbol of imprisonment, knocking loose chunks of concrete and waving them triumphantly before television cameras. They spilled out into the streets of West Berlin for a champagne-spraying, horn-honking bash that continued well past dawn, into the following day and then another dawn. As the daily BZ would headline: BERLIN IS BERLIN AGAIN.

Dec. 4, 1989: Selling a Piece of the Rock

Coverage of the wall’s fall wasn’t all about serious pronouncements on the future of Europe. There were also some gems like this one, the story of some American entrepreneurs who were marketing chunks of the Wall as timely gifts for that holiday season:

Last week two shipments of gray and white rubble, totaling 20 tons, were airlifted from Germany to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. The Missouri entrepreneurs who imported the debris swear that it comes from demolished portions of the Berlin Wall. Just in time for the Christmas shopping season, they will split it into 2-oz. chunks to be sold, along with an “informative booklet and a declaration of authenticity,” for $10 to $15 in gift shops and department stores.

Dec. 18, 1989: What the Future Holds by Frederick Painton

About a month after the Wall fell, TIME gathered five experts on European politics and economics to predict what would be next for the continent — including whether the end of the Wall would inevitably lead to the reunification of Germany:

For the third time in this century the old order is crumbling in Europe, and the world waits anxiously for a new one to be born. The transition promises to be long, difficult and hazardous. But rarely if ever has the vision of a peaceful and relatively free Europe stretching from the Atlantic to the Urals seemed so palpably within grasp. Thus 1989 is destined to join other dates in history — 1918 and 1945 — that schoolchildren are required to remember, another year when an era ended, in this case the 44-year postwar period, which is closing with the rapid unraveling of the Soviet empire.

Oct. 8, 1990: Germany: And Now There Is One by Bruce W. Nelan

In their rush toward unification over the past 11 months, East and West Germany struck down the barriers between them like so many tenpins. The most unforgettable and heart-quickening breakthrough was the first, the fall of the Berlin Wall last Nov. 9. Then came free elections in the East on March 18, economic union on July 1, and the Sept. 12 agreement of the four World War II Allies to end their remaining occupation rights in Berlin.

Any of those could be taken as the date on which unification became inevitable. But the date that will be celebrated in the future Germany comes this week, Oct. 3, when the Freedom Bell in West Berlin’s Schoneberg city hall tolls and the flag of the Federal Republic of Germany is raised in front of the 96-year-old Reichstag building. At that moment, the German Democratic Republic, a relic of Stalin’s postwar empire, ceases to exist.

Read more about the fall of the Berlin Wall here in TIME’s archives, where the Nov. 20, 1989, cover story is now available.

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