Fifty years ago today: The Berlin Wall rises

“When I was seven years old, I still went with my grandmother — just a few days before the construction of the Wall — from East Berlin’s Pankow (neighborhood) to West Berlin, and for me as a child it was totally inconceivable that Berlin was suddenly divided,” Merkel has said ahead of Saturday’s ceremony.

“From that moment on, I couldn’t go to visit my grandmother in Hamburg anymore (…) I couldn’t see my aunt or my cousins anymore. That of course marked my entire life,” Merkel said in unusually personal remarks.

Today, only a few of the wall’s roughly 12-foot high concrete slabs remain standing — haunting reminders of the city’s decades of division.