BERLIN – German Chancellor Angela Merkel led celebrations Sunday marking the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, calling it an example of the human yearning for freedom and honoring those who helped bring down the barrier that for 28 years symbolized the Cold War.

On the night of Nov. 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,” 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.

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

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

Merkel noted that Nov. 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 Merkel, adding that on Nov. 9 each year “I feel not just joy, but the responsibility that German history burdens us with.”

Sasha Moellering was 15 when the Berlin Wall fell. He told CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer he climbed onto the Wall near the main Brandenburg Gate.

“I remember sitting there, reaching down and pulling someone up, and a bit embarrassingly singing ‘Give Peace a Chance,'” Moellering said.

Today, Moellering gives bicycle tours of Berlin and the Wall, which once marked the border between the Communist East and 울진출장안마 the European West.

Moellering said it was the fall of the Wall that made Berlin the capital of cool.

He said in the early 1990s “Berlin was a bit like the Wild West . . . because the East German police, they didn’t really know the new laws. And the West Berlin police, they were told to tone it down a bit so they didn’t come across too arrogant. And in the end, you could more or less do what you want.”

Berlin has now matured into a top tourist destination. The old border checkpoints are museum exhibits now.