"I thought, no, that can't be true, and he said, 'Turn on the TV.' . . . It took really a long time before I got over the shock and dared to cross over to the West. It was too strange for me, and I also didn't trust that it was really allowed.
"I went two weeks later. Everybody else had already gone and they said, 'Don't you want to go too, and have a look?' . . .
"I crossed at Checkpoint Charlie. It was anxiety-inducing for me. At that time the wall was still there -- now you can't see anything of it anymore -- and there was a long border strip you had to cross. There were soldiers, and you could see the towers, and there was a tiny gap in the wall where all these people were trying to get through.
"It wasn't like with the people on television who were all so happy. To me it was more frightening. I didn't feel liberated at that moment. . . .
"It didn't sink in right away at the beginning. I thought they might just close the border again; it would've been very easy to do. It wasn't until much later when everything had settled and everyday life started up again that I started to think of the opportunities it meant and to make plans for the future."
Now, 20 years later, Katrin is, in many ways, a new person. She has a new career as a certified physiotherapist. Two years ago, after nearly four decades of living in Berlin, she moved back to Bernau, though she still works in the city.
Germany's reunification has not been trouble-free, and at heart, there is still something of the old East German inside her.
"I learned a new profession partly because I had to but also because it was a new opportunity. I traveled a lot. I couldn't have done that in the DDR [Deutsche Demokratische Republik, or German Democratic Republic, as East Germany was known]. For me it's just a great thing to see new things, widen your horizons, have new experiences. . . . I wouldn't want to be without that.
"[But] there's a great deal of insecurity; people are afraid for their existence, whether they're going to be able to make a living. . . .
"In the DDR, it was like a little dollhouse; you would get a job, you could make a living. A doctor in the hospital would make the same as a regular worker, so the social differences weren't so great. There was also a greater appreciation of labor. It didn't matter whether you went to university or not.
"Today life is faster, more hectic, and you have to deal with it, or you go under.
"The East mentality has definitely stayed with me. I was 28 when the wall came down. I spent my formative years, my childhood, my education, my university years there."
But she hasn't forgotten the magical moment when that feeling of liberation finally hit her, months after the wall fell.
"The first time was probably when I went to France or Italy and saw the ocean and had the feeling of the wide world before me. In '91, I went to New York. It's as though stepping over the border was difficult, but going to New York, flying over the Atlantic, was easy. And at that moment, I felt happy."
For him, freedom is normal
Valentin Geissler has no memory of the wall.
He was just 10 months old when it fell, and most of its traces have by now disappeared. But it still hovers over the city like a ghostly presence.
"Sometimes I can see in the city where the wall was. . . . I don't remember specifically when I was told [about it]. I guess I kind of grew up with this knowledge."
But the wall didn't play a big role in his childhood, not the way it had loomed over the lives of his parents. The restrictions, privations and other hardships of life in the former East Berlin are an alien concept.
"A few things are quite hard for me to imagine. My father had to trade stuff to get certain records for his record player. These things were really hard to get. . . . Money wasn't the problem; it was where you would get it. This is bizarre to me."
Though the Berlin Wall was gone, the division of the city continued to be felt as Valentin grew up.
"The schools closed. After the wall opened, people stopped having children, so all the classes after me were pretty empty. They closed one school after another, so I had to change schools. I probably went to four different ones. . . .
"You could always tell which teacher was from which part of Berlin. They had different styles of teaching, and often they disagreed with each other. . . .
"There were certain methods that only a western teacher would try. They'd usually want the class to be quieter; they had a more strict style, while the teachers from the east seemed more interested in getting to know the children.
"On the other hand, they had old teaching methods, such as that you learned vocabulary only from the textbook. The teachers from the west would try new things they picked up in a course somewhere. . . .
"The west teachers would use different words from the eastern teachers. I knew the eastern words because I grew up in the east. . . . It still happens now."