On the night of Nov. 9, 1989, the most hated symbol of the Cold War, the Berlin Wall, was turned into a pile of rubble. All night long, East and West Germans celebrated their new freedom by smashing the 28-mile-long (and 28-year-old) barrier. The following morning, East German troops were ordered to dismantle all of the wall. Soon, East and West Germany were reunited.
Two years earlier President Ronald Reagan stood in front of the Brandenburg Gate (one of the many checkpoints into Communist East Germany) and declared, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" The wall was the last desperate effort by East Germany’s then boss, Walter Ulbricht, to stop defections to the west.
But by 1989, the Soviet Union and its various satellites were on the verge of collapse. Erich Honecker, East Germany’s brutal head of state since 1976, resigned. A day later, so did Bulgaria’s communist boss, Todor Zhikov. By Christmas of that year, most former Soviet satellites had gained their freedom, as a sort of reverse domino effect took place.