10.09.2021, 11:4410.09.2021, 14:14

“I still remember exactly where I was on September 11, 2001.” This sentence will be heard more and more in the next few days, because September 11, 2001 will be the 20th anniversary.

September 11, 2001 – a Tuesday by the way – was a day of terror, as 19 al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four airplanes and killed 2,996 people from 93 countries.

For the 20th anniversary we have picked out 20 moments and their stories that will probably stay in our minds forever:

Burning towers

On September 11, 2001, the two aircraft American Airlines (AA) Flight 11 and United Airlines (UA) Flight 175 were hijacked by Al-Qaeda terrorists and flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Center (WTC) in New York. At 8:46 a.m. (local time), flight AA 11 flies into the north tower, at 9:03 a.m. (local time), flight UA 175 explodes in the south tower. In and around the WTC, 2,763 people from 92 countries died. More than 3,200 children lost one or both parents.

Bush’s reaction

While the first plane flies into the North Tower, US President George W. Bush is in the process of presenting a new educational initiative: 16 second graders are waiting for him in the small town of Sarasota, Florida, for a reading lesson.

Despite the news that an airplane has crashed and something is probably wrong with the WTC, the reading session is initially continued as planned: In front of the camera, the President enters the moment the second airplane crashes into the south tower with a « good morning »classroom 301 of the elementary school in Sarasota.

The second aviator

Millions of people around the world remember this moment because they could watch it live on TV: An airplane crashes into the south tower of the Twin Towers, while smoke is already rising from the north tower.

Panic on the streets

People run in panic through the streets of Manhattan while the south tower collapses behind them. Around 15,000 people were able to leave the towers on time.

Thick smoke

Thick smoke rises from the twin towers after the plane crashes. The idea of ​​a world trade center in New York crystallized at the beginning of the Second World War – according to the motto “world peace through trade”.

People in the dead end

400 meters above the ground, people hang on the facade of the Twin Towers trying to escape the thick smoke and heat.

The falling man

Many people jumped to their deaths. This iconic image was named “the falling man”. It was recorded at 9:41 a.m. (local time). After the attacks, the image was withheld by many media in the United States to protect the integrity of the then nameless person.

After extensive research, the photographer, Richard Drew, came to the conclusion that the falling man was the sound engineer Jonathan Briley, who had worked in the restaurant on the top floor of the north tower during the attacks. Today Jonathan Briley represents the many people who jumped out of the Twin Towers out of desperation.

The collapse

The twin towers in flames. In the picture: At 9:59 a.m. (local time) the south tower collapses. At 10:28 a.m., the north tower finally collapsed. The falling rubble destroyed a total of 23 buildings in the area so badly that they had to be torn down as a result.

Woman in the apocalypse

NYPD Officer Mike Brennan helps a distressed woman after the first tower collapses. The streets are covered with ashes and rubble – everything seems apocalyptic. The NYPD later quoted Brennan in a public report as saying “never again”.

Escape from the dust

The south tower collapses. People run through the streets of Manhattan.

The heroes’ tears

The tears on his face testify to his bewilderment. The picture of this desperate firefighter went around the world.


Completely exhausted, volunteer firefighter Bill Fennelly of Baldwin, NY, supports his head in his hand.

«The Dust Lady»

“The Dust Lady” Marcy Borders was one of the survivors. Here she holds the iconic image that shows herself leaving the north tower covered in dust and ashes. Borders was an employee of Bank of America in the north tower. She died of complications from cancer in 2005 at the age of only 42. Border’s life after the 9/11 attacks had been dominated by mental health problems and drugs.


The ruins of the Twin Towers stand in the midst of the still smoking rubble. The buildings of the WTC complex were all contaminated with asbestos, which is why the clean-up work turned out to be difficult for the construction workers. During the clean-up work, an attempt was made to locate the remains of the victims – and to identify them genetically.

The gap

Ground Zero: In May 2002 the clean-up was officially finished. A huge hole gaped in the middle of the densely built-up Manhattan. The groundbreaking ceremony for the new buildings took place on May 7, 2002. The “One World Trade Center”, which was completed on May 10, 2013 and stands on the site of the former Twin Towers, is 541 m tall and is the tallest building in the western hemisphere and the sixth tallest in the world. The construction work for further buildings on the WTC property is still in progress.

The sidelines

Not only the WTC was attacked by the terrorists: at 9:37 a.m. (local time) AA Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. 189 people lost their lives.

The challenge

The then US President George W. Bush waves an American flag in front of the destroyed WTC complex. He had previously requested the extradition of the terrorist Osama bin Laden. After Afghanistan failed to comply, Bush declared the “war on terror”. At the same time he called on all nations to decide to support the USA: “Either you are on our side or on the terrorists’ side.”

The man behind

After the attacks of September 11th, the whole world suddenly knew this man: Osama bin Laden was the head of the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda. 19 hijackers were involved in the terrorist attack, 15 of them were citizens of Saudi Arabia and came from wealthy, more secular families. The other kidnappers were from the UAE, Egypt and Lebanon.

The counter-hatred

September 11th, three years later: Pakistani protesters set fire to the American flag and a doll depicting George W. Bush. They are demonstrating against the US military attacks in Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran, which were carried out by the US military in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks. These countries have been accused by the US of supporting terrorist organizations and thus of being part of the “axis of evil”.

The memory

“Tribute in Light”: On March 11, 2002 – six months after the attacks – two blue towers of light commemorate the destroyed twin towers. Since then, the light installation has been repeated every year on September 11th between sunset and sunrise. (yam)

The evolution of the US flag

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The evolution of the US flag

“Behind me a full hall with 9/11 first responders.”

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