This Sunday, Nov. 9, marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Coca-Cola played a small but symbolic role in the dramatic events of 1989, giving East Germans an early taste of democracy.

Coca-Cola and Berlin have long enjoyed a special relationship. Perhaps it began in 1961, with Billy Wilder’s hit comedy, One, Two, Three. Shot at the Berlin-based Coca-Cola bottler in Lichterfelde, the film told the story of a senior-ranking Coke executive based in West Berlin.

When the wall came down in 1989, signaling an end to nearly 30 years of division, Coca-Cola provided another memorable image. Among the millions of pictures taken in those historic days, one shows two men throwing cartons of Coca-Cola bottles over the wall -- a small distance for them, but a huge one for Coca-Cola.

Berlin Wall

One of the men pictured (pictured on the left) was Paul-Gerhard Ritter, managing director of the Coca-Cola bottler in Lichterfelde. He understood that the Cold War was coming to an end and signaling 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

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.

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.

In the Billy Wilder film, the Coca-Cola executive dreams of selling Coke in East Germany. This dream came true: By January 1990, it was possible to buy Coke products in GDR currency. Two months later, Coca-Cola Erfrischungsgetränke GmbH was set up as a separate company in East Germany.

Today Coca-Cola Erfrischungsgetränke AG operates 10 sites and four bottling plants in the former East Germany. And in March 2013, Coke's Germany business unit headquarters moved to Stralauer Allee, a historic site in the old East Berlin where the wall once stood.