In August 1961, the Berlin Wall was built to stem mass defections from the post-war socialist regime of East Germany into democratic West Berlin. The wall stood for nearly 30 years sealing off citizens and separating families in Germany. More than 100,000 people tried to escape and hundreds were shot and killed, suffered fatal accidents or committed suicide when they attempted to flee East Germany. Life on both sides changed on November 9, 1989 when the border was opened by the Communist Party. Thousands of people poured through in jubilation and began chipping away at the wall.
The celebrations didn’t end that night in the unified Berlin. On New Year’s Eve 1989, David "The Hoff" Hasselhoff, Germany's beloved pop culture hero, donned his LED leather jacket and piano key scarf to sing his hit song “Looking for Freedom” at the foot of the Brandenburg Gate. The song had been banned in East Germany until the wall came down. It now stands as a classic anthem of that moment in history.
Hasselhoff reflected on his experience in 1989 in Time magazine, "And then the Berlin Wall mysteriously, through the grace of God, came down. The last time I’d seen my German promoter before that day, I’d asked him when he thought the wall was going to come down. He was just about 60 years old then, and he said, 'Not in my lifetime.' I remember that statement. On November 9, he called me and said, 'You’re not going to believe this! The wall is down! The people are free!'"
For more about the Berlin Wall, visit History.com