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Merkel leads 25th anniversary ceremony of the fall of Berlin Wall

German Chancellor Angela Merkel led celebrations today marking the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, calling it an example of the human yearning for freedom.

Ms Merkel said the celebrations also honoured those who helped bring down the barrier that for 28 years symbolised the Cold War.

On the night of November 9, 1989, thousands of East Berliners streamed through the once-closed border crossings after communist authorities caved in to mounting pressure and relaxed travel restrictions that had prevented their citizens from going to the west for decades.

"The fall of the Wall has shown us that dreams can come true," Ms Merkel said at the main memorial site for the Wall on Bernauer Strasse.

"Nothing has to stay the way it is, however big the hurdles are."

The fall of the Wall was the climax of weeks of popular protests spurred by changes that had already taken place elsewhere in eastern Europe.

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People wait in front of the stage in front of the Brandenburg Gate next to part of the installation 'Lichtgrenze' (Border of Light) in Berlin

People wait in front of the stage in front of the Brandenburg Gate next to part of the installation 'Lichtgrenze' (Border of Light) in Berlin

People walk under the lit balloons placed along the former Berlin Wall at Potsdamer Platz as part of the installation 'Lichtgrenze' (Border of Light) in Berlin, November 9, 2014. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

People walk under the lit balloons placed along the former Berlin Wall at Potsdamer Platz as part of the installation 'Lichtgrenze' (Border of Light) in Berlin, November 9, 2014. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

People wait in front of the stage in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin with the landmark Siegessaeule (victory column) pictured in the background, November 9, 2014. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

People wait in front of the stage in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin with the landmark Siegessaeule (victory column) pictured in the background, November 9, 2014. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

The Quadriga sculpture is illuminated atop the Brandenburg gate in Berlin, November 9, 2014. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

The Quadriga sculpture is illuminated atop the Brandenburg gate in Berlin, November 9, 2014. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

Musicians play drums during a commemoration of people who died while trying to cross the Berlin Wall to escape from former East Germany, in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, November 9, 2014. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

Musicians play drums during a commemoration of people who died while trying to cross the Berlin Wall to escape from former East Germany, in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, November 9, 2014. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

British musician Peter Gabriel performs on stage in front of the Brandenburg Gate next to part of the installation 'Lichtgrenze' (Border of Light) in Berlin, November 9, 2014. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

British musician Peter Gabriel performs on stage in front of the Brandenburg Gate next to part of the installation 'Lichtgrenze' (Border of Light) in Berlin, November 9, 2014. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

Musicians play drums during a commemoration of people who died while trying to cross the Berlin Wall to escape from former East Germany, in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, November 9, 2014. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

Musicians play drums during a commemoration of people who died while trying to cross the Berlin Wall to escape from former East Germany, in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, November 9, 2014. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

Musicians play drums during a commemoration of people who died while trying to cross the Berlin Wall to escape from former East Germany, in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, November 9, 2014. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

Musicians play drums during a commemoration of people who died while trying to cross the Berlin Wall to escape from former East Germany, in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, November 9, 2014. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

Musicians play drums during a commemoration of people who died while trying to cross the Berlin Wall to escape from former East Germany, in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, November 9, 2014.  REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

Musicians play drums during a commemoration of people who died while trying to cross the Berlin Wall to escape from former East Germany, in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, November 9, 2014. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

British musician Peter Gabriel performs during a concert in front of the Brandenburg Gate next to part of the installation 'Lichtgrenze' (Border of Light) in Berlin, November 9, 2014. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

British musician Peter Gabriel performs during a concert in front of the Brandenburg Gate next to part of the installation 'Lichtgrenze' (Border of Light) in Berlin, November 9, 2014. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

British musician Peter Gabriel performs during a concert in front of the Brandenburg Gate next to part of the installation 'Lichtgrenze' (Border of Light) in Berlin, November 9, 2014. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

British musician Peter Gabriel performs during a concert in front of the Brandenburg Gate next to part of the installation 'Lichtgrenze' (Border of Light) in Berlin, November 9, 2014. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

German actor Jan Josef Liefers speaks to people in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, November 9, 2014. Germany on Sunday marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.      REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

German actor Jan Josef Liefers speaks to people in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, November 9, 2014. Germany on Sunday marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, Joachim Sauer, his wife Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Joachim Gauck and his partner Daniela Schadt (L-R) attend a ceremony in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, November 9, 2014. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, Joachim Sauer, his wife Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Joachim Gauck and his partner Daniela Schadt (L-R) attend a ceremony in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, November 9, 2014. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, Joachim Sauer, his wife Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Joachim Gauck and his partner Daniela Schadt (L-R) attend a ceremony in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, November 9, 2014. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, Joachim Sauer, his wife Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Joachim Gauck and his partner Daniela Schadt (L-R) attend a ceremony in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, November 9, 2014. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

German actor Jan Josef Liefers speaking to singer-songwriter and former GDR dissident Wolf Biermann is seen on the right side of the video screen while an early picture of Biermann is seen at left  at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, November 9, 2014.  REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

German actor Jan Josef Liefers speaking to singer-songwriter and former GDR dissident Wolf Biermann is seen on the right side of the video screen while an early picture of Biermann is seen at left at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, November 9, 2014. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

German actor Jan Josef Liefers speaking to singer-songwriter and former GDR dissident Wolf Biermann is seen on the right side of the video screen at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, November 9, 2014. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

German actor Jan Josef Liefers speaking to singer-songwriter and former GDR dissident Wolf Biermann is seen on the right side of the video screen at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, November 9, 2014. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

German actor Jan Josef Liefers speaking to singer-songwriter and former GDR dissident Wolf Biermann is seen on the right side of the video screen while an early picture of Biermann is seen at left  at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, November 9, 2014.    REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

German actor Jan Josef Liefers speaking to singer-songwriter and former GDR dissident Wolf Biermann is seen on the right side of the video screen while an early picture of Biermann is seen at left at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, November 9, 2014. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

The Quadriga sculpture is illuminated atop the Brandenburg gate in Berlin, November 9, 2014. A part of the inner city of Berlin will be temporarily divided from November 7 to 9, with a light installation 'Lichtgrenze' (Border of Light) featuring 8000 luminous white balloons to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.   REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

The Quadriga sculpture is illuminated atop the Brandenburg gate in Berlin, November 9, 2014. A part of the inner city of Berlin will be temporarily divided from November 7 to 9, with a light installation 'Lichtgrenze' (Border of Light) featuring 8000 luminous white balloons to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

German actor Jan Josef Liefers addresses the crowd from on stage in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, November 9, 2014.  REUTERS/Michael Dalder

German actor Jan Josef Liefers addresses the crowd from on stage in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, November 9, 2014. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

German singer-songwriter and former GDR dissident Wolf Biermann performs on stage in front of the Brandenburg Gate next to part of the installation 'Lichtgrenze' (Border of Light) in Berlin, November 9, 2014. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

German singer-songwriter and former GDR dissident Wolf Biermann performs on stage in front of the Brandenburg Gate next to part of the installation 'Lichtgrenze' (Border of Light) in Berlin, November 9, 2014. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

German singer-songwriter and former GDR dissident Wolf Biermann performs on stage in front of the Brandenburg Gate next to part of the installation 'Lichtgrenze' (Border of Light) in Berlin, November 9, 2014. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

German singer-songwriter and former GDR dissident Wolf Biermann performs on stage in front of the Brandenburg Gate next to part of the installation 'Lichtgrenze' (Border of Light) in Berlin, November 9, 2014. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

REFILE - Musicians play drums during a commemoration of people who died while trying to cross the Berlin Wall to escape from former East Germany, in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, November 9, 2014. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

REFILE - Musicians play drums during a commemoration of people who died while trying to cross the Berlin Wall to escape from former East Germany, in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, November 9, 2014. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

Musicians play drums during a commemoration of people who died while trying to cross the Berlin Wall to escape from former East Germany, in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, November 9, 2014. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

Musicians play drums during a commemoration of people who died while trying to cross the Berlin Wall to escape from former East Germany, in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, November 9, 2014. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

German actress Anna Loos from the band Silly performs in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, November 9, 2014. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

German actress Anna Loos from the band Silly performs in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, November 9, 2014. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

German actress Anna Loos from the band Silly performs in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, November 9, 2014. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

German actress Anna Loos from the band Silly performs in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, November 9, 2014. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

People walk under the lit balloons placed along the former Berlin Wall at Potsdamer Platz as part of the installation 'Lichtgrenze' (Border of Light) in Berlin, November 9, 2014. REUTERS/Thomas Krumenacker

People walk under the lit balloons placed along the former Berlin Wall at Potsdamer Platz as part of the installation 'Lichtgrenze' (Border of Light) in Berlin, November 9, 2014. REUTERS/Thomas Krumenacker

A choir performs on stage in front of the Brandenburg Gate next to part of the installation 'Lichtgrenze' (Border of Light) in Berlin, November 9, 2014.  REUTERS/View

A choir performs on stage in front of the Brandenburg Gate next to part of the installation 'Lichtgrenze' (Border of Light) in Berlin, November 9, 2014. REUTERS/View

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People wait in front of the stage in front of the Brandenburg Gate next to part of the installation 'Lichtgrenze' (Border of Light) in Berlin

Ms Merkel noted the important examples set by the democracy movements in Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary, and praised East Germans who were inspired by them to stand up to the dictatorship.

She also honoured the many who suffered under the communist regime, including the 138 people who died at the Wall.

Ms Merkel noted that November 9 is a significant date in Germany history also for being the day when, in 1938, Nazi paramilitaries launched a pogrom against the country's Jewish population in what became known as Reichskristallnacht - the "Night of Broken Glass".

"That was the opening note for the murder of millions," said Ms Merkel, adding that on November 9 each year "I feel not just joy, but the responsibility that German history burdens us with".

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