It is 25 years since the Berlin Wall came down. For many, it represented the beginning of the end of communism in Europe and of a world divided by the Cold War. The world stared down the barrel of nuclear conflict many times, but then hope sprang up as the concrete in Berlin came tumbling down. Two-and-a-half decades on, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev warned that the world is on the brink of a new Cold War. Ironically, he made a speech explaining why in Berlin. He accused the West of not fulfilling the promises it made after 1989. He said that: "The world is on the brink of a new Cold War. Some say that it has already begun." He also criticised the United Nations for doing so little.
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The Berlin Wall existed between 1961 and 1990. It completely cut off land access to West Berlin from surrounding East Germany. The western powers of the USA, Germany and France controlled life in West Berlin, while communist East Germany controlled the rest. The barrier included guard towers placed along large concrete walls. Anyone attempting to cross to the west was either shot or arrested by the East German border police. The wall came to symbolise the "Iron Curtain" that separated Western Europe and the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War. In 1989, a series of radical political changes occurred in the Eastern Bloc, which led to the Wall coming down and Germany being reunified in October 1990.