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Part of the nearly 25-mile path that the Wall wound through the heart of the city is marked today by a cobblestone strip, which stretches down streets and across sidewalks to remind passers-by where the wall once stood.

When the wall first was built, nobody knew what was going to happen next. Many people were afraid that it would serve as a provocation and turn the Cold War into a hot one.

Mr. Wowereit emphatically thanked all those who stood up for Berlin’s freedom throughout the Wall’s existence, singling out former U.S. President John F. Kennedy, “who gave us courage” by visiting the divided city.

On his trip in 1963, Mr. Kennedy declared “Ich bin ein Berliner (I am a citizen of Berlin),” expressing his solidarity with West Germany.