11 Great Reads About the Berlin Wall

Published: December 20, 2021

Are you interested in reading more about the Berlin Wall? Our list of 11 books offers you an insider's look at this important divider in history.

We've included writings about those that snuck to the other side while it was still standing, it's importance in history, and what happened after it was torn down. You will also find some books on why it fell. 

Books About the Berlin Wall

1. Tunnel 29: The True Story of an Extraordinary Escape Beneath the Berlin Wall

Tunnel 29

Written by: Helena Merriman

Published: August 24th, 2021

Pages: 352

Tunnel 29 is the story of an extraordinary escape beneath the Berlin Wall by Helena Merriman. This book takes you back to when Germany was divided into East and West, with the Western part being democratic while the Eastern side was communist. The author tells us about how tunnels ran under the wall to allow people from both sides to visit one another.

But these tunnels weren't just used for reunions; they also became a way for spies, dissidents, and fugitives to cross over safely. One of them was Joachim Rudolph, who dug the wall to help so many escapes. You will read about his story, about the networks that wanted to film them, and how others escaped…or didn't because of traitors and the Stasi (Nazi secret service). There was a documentary made by NBC named Tunnel 29, and Helena Merriman also has a podcast of the same name.

2. The Berlin Wall: A World Divided, 1961-1989

The Berlin Wall

Written by: Frederick Taylor

Published: May 29th, 2007

Pages: 512

In 1961, the Soviet Union erected a barbed wire fence between East and West Berlin to keep its two million citizens from defecting to the Western world. This fencing evolved into a wall, complete with guard towers and machine gun-wielding soldiers, that completely cut off East Berlin from the rest of the city. For 28 years, the Berlin Wall served as a physical and symbolic representation of the Cold War divide between East and West.

The fall of the Berlin Wall is considered one of the most outstanding achievements of European integration and has been credited with paving the way for German reunification in 1990. In November 1989, however, the wall was finally torn down amid massive celebrations throughout Germany. Taylor explains how the wall continues to impact, geopolitical and socially, even today.

3. The Year That Changed the World: The Untold Story Behind the Fall of the Berlin Wall

The Year That Changed the World

Written by: Michael R. Meyer

Published: September 8th, 2009

pages: 255

When most people think of the fall of the Berlin Wall, they think of the peaceful and triumphant events in November 1989. President Ronald Reagan once said, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" People think that was the start of all that happened afterward. However, in reality, that was only the result, and there was so much more going on behind the scenes.

Meyer's book features exclusive interviews with key players on both sides of the wall and tells the complete story of one of history's most meaningful events. These include lesser-known people such as Lech Walesa, the PM of Budapest, Miklos Nemeth, and others. Whether you think you know the whole story of how this wall fell, we can assure you that this book will give you the information you've never heard from any other book elsewhere. Mr. Meyer was the bureau chief for Newsweek at the time in Germany.

4. Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall


Written by: Anna Funder

Published: 2003

Pages: 288

We all know that the wall was built to prevent East Germans from fleeing the communist Eastern Bloc. Though its dismantling began on November 9, 1989, it still left traces of itself behind. Stasiland explores the lives of those who found themselves on either side of this wall before and after its construction.

With a journalist's eye for detail and clarity, Anna Funder has created a work that is not only illuminating but also profoundly moving. This book will take readers back to one of the most tumultuous periods in recent history with poignant prose and fascinating interviews. These include those with the average person and former members of East Germany's secret police force (the Stasi).

5. The Collapse: The Accidental Opening of the Berlin Wall

The Collapse

Written by: Mary Elise Sarotte

Published: October 7th, 2014

Pages: 320

It was a warm autumn day in November, and the citizens of East Berlin were out and about as usual. But something was different that day – something big was happening, though nobody knew it yet. The wall that had divided their city for 28 years was finally coming down. This momentous event didn't happen because of a planned protest or an act of rebellion – it was primarily accidental.

Many unknown characters were working behind the scenes that have been forgotten, including Roland Jahn, Aram Radomski, and others who were bringing information to the West. Others include members of the East German government who made pronouncements without realizing their effect.

One of the more exciting aspects is that Tom Brokaw was broadcasting live since there were so many expectations of this happening. Because of the world seeing all this happening live and in person, it became one of the reasons that the wall would fall that fateful and incredible day.

6. Forty Autumns: A Family's Story of Courage and Survival on Both Sides of the Berlin Wall

Forty Autumns

Written by: Nina Willner

Published: October 4th, 2016

Pages: 391

This memoir is simply unforgettable and seems to be so incredible that it could be fiction, but it isn't. Willner tells how her mother left West Germany to move West. She had to leave behind her father, mother, eight brothers and sisters, and everything she knew as home. After escaping, she moved to the U.S.A. and had her own family.

That is only the beginning of her story: Her daughter Nina became the first woman in the Army Intelligence and would transfer secrets back and forth from the East to West as she crossed the Berlin Wall. This non-fiction account shows how dangerous it was to help the East Germans find freedom and peace. Many photographs help you imagine what Nina went through during these horrifying times.

7. 1989 The Berlin Wall: My Part in Its Downfall

1989 The Berlin Wall

Written by: Peter Millar

Published: September 10th, 2009

Pages: 220

Most of the books on this list tend to be very serious, while 1989 The Berlin Wall also has humorous anecdotes about life on both sides of the wall. Spending over a decade in East Berlin and other cities in the U.S.S.R., Millar has insights like no one else since he was a correspondent for newspapers in the West at this time.

We love this book because it doesn't just focus on his time in the communist world but also how he became the person who would report on these incredible events in time. This includes his hitchhiking trip, where he found his desire to be a journalist and hanging out with the rebels at bars on the Eastern side of the wall. You then get his inside perspective on how the wall falls and the aftermath. Charli

8. The Tunnels: Escapes Under the Berlin Wall and the Historic Films the JFK White House Tried to Kill

The Tunnels

Written by: Greg Mitchell

Published: October 18th, 2016

Pages: 320

Most people know about the fall of the wall, and now from reading this list, there were tunnels that people used to go back and forth. However, you may not know that NBC and CBS were alerted to these tunnels and wanted to do live reporting inside them to show how people were being brought to safety.

You will learn about many people involved in saving lives and putting themselves in danger from torture and death. Meanwhile, when President John F. Kennedy and Secretary of State Dean Rusk found out, they were worried it would escalate the already high tensions between the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R.

Using extensive research from Stasi articles, U.S. documents, and interviews with people, this book is riveting at each moment.

9. Checkpoint Charlie: The Cold War, the Berlin Wall and the Most Dangerous Place on Earth

Checkpoint Charlie

Written by: Iain MacGregor

Published: November 5th, 2019

Pages: 352

Checkpoint Charlie was one of the main crossings from East Germany to West Germany and back. Meanwhile, people were crossing over, under, and in any way they could find to get free. This book delves into their stories and the major players in the governments that controlled their fates.

Most people think this was only between President Kennedy and Stalin, but it includes Mao Zedong, Nixon, Khrushchev, and many other political players. On top of that, there was the Stasi, CIA, MI6 (Britain's secret service), and even the journalists that covered it for years. Including interviews with the people who built and destroyed the wall gives an inside view like no other.

10. Burning Down the Haus: Punk Rock, Revolution, and the Fall of the Berlin Wall

Burning Down the Haus

Written by: Tim Mohr

Published: March 20th, 2017

Pages: 384

We can honestly state that this is the only book of its type that you will find on any list anywhere. This book documents how the rise of punk rock, with the underground subversiveness, helped bring down the Berlin Wall. By rejecting everything that the communist government desired, compliance, conformity, and a lack of individual freedom, these young punks would not be held down by them.

Their story is quite terrifying as not only did the Stasi and other government agencies spy on them, but they later found out their friends and family were helping the East German government to bring them down. They were beaten, tortured, and spent time in prison trying to control them. Instead of giving in and giving up to the power, they fought back using music and bringing the sound of freedom to other revolutionaries who helped bring down the wall.

11. The Berlin Wall: The History and Legacy of the World's Most Notorious Wall

The Berlin Wall: The History and Legacy

Written by: Charles River Editors

Published: March 4th, 2015

Pages: 100

The Berlin Wall was the most iconic symbol of the Cold War, and its fall in 1989 was a momentous event that marked the beginning of the end of the Cold War. The history and legacy of the Berlin Wall are complex and fascinating, and this book explores it all. Starting with the wall first being built, the airlifts to help the stranded in East Germany, the freedom fighters and the Stasi trying to stop them, and so much more.

This wall allowed the Americans, Great Britain, and France to prove that communism was repressive and destroyed cultures instead of keeping the people safe. Whether you're interested in the history of the wall, its impact on Germany, Europe, or the world, this book has something for you.