Berlin Wall

November 9 marks 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. When the wall came down in 1989, signalling an end to nearly 30 years of division, photos which would one day be iconic flew all a round the world. One of them was to become a piece of Coca-Cola history. 

Among the millions of pictures taken in those historic days, one shows two men throwing a red box containing Coca-Cola over the wall - a small distance for them, but a huge one for Coca-Cola.



Berlin Wall

One of the men pictured was Paul-Gerhard Ritter, the managing director of the Coca-Cola bottler in Lichterfelde. He understood that the Cold War was coming to an end – it was the beginning of a new era. 

So, only a few hours after the wall came down, he had trucks filled with Coca-Cola driving to Kudamm to meet people from East Berlin as they rushed to enter the long-forbidden western side of the city. Within two hours three trucks were empty.


Ritter then stood with an employee at Glienicke Bridge, the place where agents and prisoners were exchanged during the Cold War, in order to personally serve a Coke to visitors from his home town. When a German Democratic Republic (GDR) guard noticed this, he shouted, “Hey, I want one as well!”


Berlin Wall


It was a time of rapid, bold decisions. A time of improvised offices at the counters of hotel bars, when unreliable telephone connections caused the temporary return of the telegram.



Berlin Wall

Ritter knew exactly what he was doing. He came from the East, attending a school in the GDR until he was eight. However, in 1959, before the Wall was built, his family moved to West Berlin.

Ritter did not waste time with questions – he acted. Due to the hard work and swift action of Coke employees like Ritter, in the first week after the fall of the Wall, two million people drank a toast to freedom with a Coke.