What Impact Did The Berlin Wall Have On Germany
The Berlin wall divided families who found themselves unable to visit each other. Many East Berliners were cut off from their jobs. West Berliners demonstrated against the wall and their mayor Willy Brandt led the criticism against the United States who they felt had failed to respond.

  1. The East German government claimed the wall was an ‘anti-fascist protection barrier’ (antifaschistischer Schutzwall) intended to dissuade aggression from the West, despite the fact that all the wall’s defences pointed inward to East German territory.
  2. This view was viewed with scepticism even in East Germany.

The wall had caused many families considerable hardship and the western view was that the wall was a means of preventing the people of East Germany from entering West Berlin was widely seen as being the truth. During the wall’s existence there were around 5000 successful escapes into West Berlin.

Varying reports claim that either 192 or 239 people were killed trying to cross the wall and many more were injured. Early successful attempts involved people jumping over the barbed wire fence or leaping from the windows of the apartments that lined the wall. These building were soon boarded up and then demolished.

Later successful attempts include long tunnels, sliding along aerial wires, flying ultra lights and even driving under a checkpoint barrier in a very low sports car. East Berliners became very ingenious in their attempts to flee to the West but sadly many attempts ended in tragedy.

What did the Berlin Wall accomplish?

East Germans Pressured Soviets to Build Berlin Wall “The East Germans had much more power over the Soviets than was previously understood in the Berlin Crisis and the building of the Wall,” remarked Hope Harrison, Assistant Professor, Department of Government and Law, Lafayette College, and Title VIII-Supported Research Scholar, Kennan Institute at a Kennan Institute lecture on 4 December 1998.

Harrison was supported by discussant David Murphy, former CIA Station Chief, Berlin, 1954-61, who agreed that the “East German tail wagged the Soviet dog” in the months leading up to the construction of the Wall. (Note: Harrison was recently a featured guest on the Center’s Dialogue radio program.) Contrary to the previous view of the cold war, Harrison argued, the East Germans did exert various forms of power over the Soviets.

Khrushchev was deeply committed to the triumph of socialism over capitalism in Germany, remarking that, if socialism did not win in East Germany, then the Soviets would not win. The East Germans learned from this that they could parlay the weakness of their regime into strength in bargaining with the Soviets.

East German motivation to solve the problem of their citizens fleeing to capitalist West Berlin and West Germany and their willingness and capability to act unilaterally were very important in the crisis. Another source of East German influence was their non-implementation of Soviet policies-in particular, “socialism with a more human face.” Finally, the Berlin crisis occurred at the same time as the rift between the Chinese and the Soviets which the East Germans learned to use to their advantage, using the “China card” to put pressure on the Soviets.

How did the crisis begin which ultimately led to the building of the Berlin Wall? Harrison described Khrushchev’s November 1958 ultimatum to the Western powers which set a six month deadline and demanded the signing of a peace treaty (still not concluded since World War II ended), either with a united Germany or with the two existing Germanies, and that West Berlin be transformed into a demilitarized free city.

  1. If these demands were not met, the Soviets would sign a separate peace treaty with East Germany and turn over control over the access routes between West Germany and West Berlin to East Germany.
  2. Hrushchev believed the “free city” idea was a way to solve East Germany’s refugee problem.
  3. If West Berlin was a neutral city and less capitalist, then East Germans would not be so eager to migrate there.

East German leader, Walter Ulbricht’s solution to the problem was to either take over West Berlin or close the border. Initially, Khrushchev refused to allow the East Germans to close the border in Berlin because he felt it would exacerbate the tensions of the cold war and make communism look bad.

Ulbricht blamed the Soviets for the refugee problem and East Germany’s economic problems. In January 1961, he wrote to Khrushchev blaming Soviet post-war reparations policy for the current East German crisis. He pointed out how much the Soviets took out of East Germany in the nine years after World War II when the U.S.

was investing, largely through Marshall Plan aid, in West Germany. Pressure from the East Germans to close the border continued in the spring and summer of 1961. Soviet communications from East Germany to Moscow increasingly stressed Ulbricht’s desire to establish control over the border, close “the door to the West,” and reduce the problem of East German citizens fleeing to West Berlin.

  • At a Warsaw Pact meeting in March 1961, Ulbricht asked for permission from Khrushchev to close the border and was told to wait until the June 1961 meeting in Vienna with President Kennedy.
  • After the meeting, Khrushchev-dissatisfied with the talks-agreed to close the border.
  • What did the Berlin Wall accomplish for Khrushchev? It saved the East German regime, eased economic pressure on the Soviet Union and other socialist countries to help East Germany, and kept Ulbricht’s power limited to East Berlin, thereby taking some control away from him, Harrison argued.

Finally, Khrushchev hoped the Wall would show the Chinese and others that he could stand up to the “paper tiger” West. Even after the Wall, however, Khrushchev was afraid of Ulbricht’s unilateral behavior continuing. He wrote to him in September 1961 arguing that actions which could exacerbate the situation in Berlin should be avoided.

  • Harrison discussed what lessons could be learned from this.
  • Soviet caution in building the wall on East Berlin territory and starting gradually with barbed wire is important.
  • Only after it was evident the West would not resist were concrete bricks used.
  • The most important lesson, according to Harrison, was the importance of alliance politics and the interaction between adversaries during the cold war.

It is not enough to look only at U.S.-Soviet relations to understand this and other important periods of the cold war. A final lesson was the crucial role of economics in the cold war. A month after the construction of the Wall, Ulbricht wrote to Khrushchev that, “the experiences of the past years have proven that it is not possible that a socialist country such as the GDR can carry out a peaceful competition with an imperialist country such as West Germany with open borders.” : East Germans Pressured Soviets to Build Berlin Wall

How did the Berlin Wall impact history?

NOTE TO READERS “Milestones in the History of U.S. Foreign Relations” has been retired and is no longer maintained. For more information, please see the full notice, On November 10, 1958, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev delivered a speech in which he demanded that the Western powers of the United States, Great Britain and France pull their forces out of West Berlin within six months. President John F. Kennedy meeting with West Berlin Mayor Willy Brandt at the White House West Berlin remained under western control, but it was located deep inside East German territory, and that made its protection from communist takeover a constant challenge for the western powers.

In 1948, the Soviet Union sparked a crisis in the city by cutting off land access between West Germany and West Berlin, necessitating a year-long airlift of supplies to the stranded citizens before the Soviets reopened the passageways. By 1958, however, a similar situation would have doomed the city; it was already too populous and too prosperous to be supplied via air.

The United States heralded the economic success and political freedom of West Berlin as a symbol of the success of the capitalist system, and it was deeply committed to its security, so a Soviet decision to cut off land access again had the potential to lead to a more serious conflict between the two powers.

At the same time, the existence of West Berlin was increasingly becoming a liability for the Soviet Union and the East German government. The divided city highlighted the sharp contrast between the communist and capitalist systems, and the freedom of movement between the sectors had resulted in a mass exodus from the eastern side.

Looking for a way to stop the flow of people from east to west and a means to check the growing military power of West Germany, Khrushchev insisted in his November 1958 speech that it was time for the United States to pull out of the city. The west interpreted his speech as an ultimatum, and U.S.

  1. President Dwight Eisenhower became determined not to give in to Soviet demands.
  2. Instead, the two sides opened a foreign minister’s conference at Geneva in the summer of 1959 and made an attempt to negotiate a new agreement on Berlin.
  3. Hrushchev wanted the Western garrisons out of West Berlin as a precursor to reunifying the city, but Eisenhower believed that protecting the freedom of West Berlin required an ongoing U.S.

presence. Although Khrushchev and Eisenhower made some progress toward mutual understanding during talks at Camp David in the United States in 1959, relations became tense after the Soviet Union shot down an American U-2 spy plane canvassing Soviet territory in 1960.

In the wake of this incident, there appeared to be little hope for accommodation. At that point, talks ceased, and the Soviet premier appeared willing to wait for the U.S. presidential elections to take place so he could begin anew with the incoming administration. However, the first negotiations between the new U.S.

President and Khrushchev did not result in a resolution. In the summer of 1961, President John F. Kennedy met with Khrushchev in Vienna to address the ongoing issue of Berlin, in addition to the countries’ competing interests in Laos, and the question of disarmament.

  • Although they agreed to further discussions on Laos, they found no solution to the Berlin problem.
  • In the wake of the conference, Khrushchev once again gave the United States six months to withdraw from Berlin.
  • Ennedy responded by activating 150,000 reservists and increasing defense expenditures, in preparation for a potential conflict over the future of the city.

Unwilling to face a potential nuclear escalation over the city, Khrushchev prepared to take his own form of action. On the morning of August 13, 1961, Berliners awoke to discover that on the orders of East German leader Walter Ulbricht, a barbed wire fence had gone up overnight separating West and East Berlin and preventing movement between the two sides.

The barbed wire fence was soon expanded to include cement walls and guard towers. The Berlin Wall would prevent the West from having further influence on the East, stop the flow of migrants out of the communist sector, and ultimately become the most iconic image of the Cold War in Europe. The United States quickly condemned the wall, which divided families and limited freedom of movement.

Shortly after the wall was erected, a standoff between U.S. and Soviet troops on either side of the diplomatic checkpoint led to one of the tensest moments of the Cold War in Europe. A dispute over whether East German or Soviet guards were authorized to patrol the checkpoints and examine the travel documents of U.S.

  1. Diplomats passing through led the United States to station tanks on its side of the checkpoint, pointing toward the East German troops just beyond the wall.
  2. Concerns that U.S.
  3. Forces would either attempt to take down the wall or force their way through the checkpoint led the Soviet Union to station its own tanks on the East German side.

A wrong move during the face-off could have led to war, and any conventional skirmish between two nuclear powers always brought with it the risk of escalation. Instead, Kennedy made use of back channels to suggest that Khrushchev remove his tanks, promising that if the Soviet Union did so, the U.S.

How did the fall of the Berlin Wall affect East Germany?

A couple attempts to peek through cracks in a still-existing section of the Berlin Wall into the so-called ‘death strip,’ where East German border guards had the order to shoot anyone attempting to flee into West Berlin. Carsten Koall/Getty Images After the Berlin Wall came down, 18 million people in East Germany were — for the first time in more than 40 years — able to travel as widely as they could afford; express political opinions without the fear of the secret police; and choose their government in democratic elections. What Impact Did The Berlin Wall Have On Germany Claudia Haley, pictured in the Schoneweide Industrial Museum with a T.V. set made in east Berlin — one of the first televisions to be sold in the Soviet Union. (Mimisse Beard /Marketplace) “It was a big economic and cultural shock. Many people here in the east felt lost,” said tour guide Claudia Haley at the Schoneweide Industrial Museum in East Berlin.

“Under the GDR everyone had a job. You stayed in that job. You felt part of a group. And that’s what the older easterners who come here today tell us: ‘I miss the feeling of being in a group at work.’ They lost that feeling after the Wall came tumbling down,” Haley said. Hundreds of state-owned companies were sold off to the private sector after reunification and many subsequently collapsed because they could not compete in a market economy with a much stronger currency.

Many of the workers who lost their jobs felt they were the victims of the new, heartless, West German owners. “The firm I worked for had a staff of 2,500,” said Dieter, a factory worker now in his 70s and retired. “The new owners just bulldozed the plant. What Impact Did The Berlin Wall Have On Germany Mario and Petra Tiesies of Arche. “There’s a widespread feeling of distrust among Easterners.” (Mimisse Beard/Marketplace) “Lots of the parents who bring their children here lost out from reunification. Their parents never worked again. And they’ve never had a steady job,” Tiesies said.

“We all gained freedom when the wall came down, but lots of people here lost their economic security. There is a widespread feeling of distrust, a feeling that plenty of Westerners came here just to make easy money,” he said. There is a general belief in the Eastern states that, over the past 30 years, Easterners have been treated as second-class citizens.

Economist Jörg Roesler said that feeling has festered because Western companies were allowed to plunder their Eastern counterparts; he believes the West threw the East to the wolves. What Impact Did The Berlin Wall Have On Germany Economist Jörg Roesler. “Reunification was mismanaged.” (Mimisse Beard/Marketplace) “I’m deeply disappointed that they were not able to give the East a chance to reconstruct. That did not happen,” he said. Western taxpayers may have poured $2 trillion into improving the infrastructure and the social safety net in the East but, according Roesler, a lot of that money was wasted.

He said if Eastern companies had been protected against Western competition for up to five years, a whole generation would not have been thrown out of work and made to feel worthless. “They could have been proud of a unified Germany,” he said. The Eastern states are much better off than they were under communism and there are some individual corporate success stories.

Take Little Red Riding Hood, a producer of sparkling wine which prospered in a unified Germany. “Every second bottle of sparkling wine sold in this country today comes from our company,” said chairman Christof Queisser. He attributes the company’s success both to the excellence of its product and the tenacity of the managers who bought out the company after reunification, cut costs, shed labor and then, in buying up several western wine producers, pursued an aggressive expansion policy. What Impact Did The Berlin Wall Have On Germany Little Red Riding Hood wine at the company’s headquarters in Eastern Germany. (Courtesy Little Red Riding Hood) But Little Red Riding Hood is a rarity almost a fairy tale. The East may be better off than it was, but it is not as well off as the West, where unemployment is lower and wages are about 18% higher. What Impact Did The Berlin Wall Have On Germany Christian Hirte (Mimisse Beard/Marketplace) “The best and the most motivated and mobile people got up and went to the West and made their living there,” Hirte said. “You cannot repair such a brutal development in demography. It will be a problem for decades.” There’s a lot happening in the world.

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What happened to the Berlin Wall and why was it significant?

How did the Wall come down? – It was on 9 November 1989, five days after half a million people gathered in East Berlin in a mass protest, that the Berlin Wall dividing communist East Germany from West Germany crumbled. East German leaders had tried to calm mounting protests by loosening the borders, making travel easier for East Germans.

  • They had not intended to open the border up completely.
  • The changes were meant to be fairly minor – but the way they were delivered had major consequences.
  • Media caption, Archive: Brian Hanrahan reports on the rapid developments that led to the collapse of the Berlin Wall Notes about the new rules were handed to a spokesman, Günter Schabowski – who had no time to read them before his regular press conference.
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When he read the note aloud for the first time, reporters were stunned. “Private travel outside the country can now be applied for without prerequisites,” he said. Surprised journalists clamoured for more details. Shuffling through his notes, Mr Schabowski said that as far as he was aware, it was effective immediately.

  1. In fact it had been planned to start the next day, with details on applying for a visa.
  2. But the news was all over television – and East Germans flocked to the border in huge numbers.
  3. Harald Jäger, a border guard in charge that evening, told Der Spiegel in 2009 that he had watched the press conference in confusion – and then watched the crowd arrive.

Image source, Getty Images Image caption, There were emotional scenes as East Berliners entered the West Mr Jäger frantically called his superiors, but they gave no orders either to open the gate – or to open fire to stop the crowd. With only a handful of guards facing hundreds of angry citizens, force would have been of little use.

People could have been injured or killed even without shots being fired, in scuffles, or if there had been panic among the thousands gathered at the border crossing,” he told Der Spiegel. “That’s why I gave my people the order: Open the barrier!” Thousands flowed through, celebrating and crying, in scenes beamed around the world.

Many climbed the wall at Berlin’s Brandenburg gate, chipping away at the wall itself with hammers and pickaxes. A turbulent year had reached a climax.

What was an effect of the Berlin crisis?

NOTE TO READERS “Milestones in the History of U.S. Foreign Relations” has been retired and is no longer maintained. For more information, please see the full notice, At the end of the Second World War, U.S., British, and Soviet military forces divided and occupied Germany.

  1. Also divided into occupation zones, Berlin was located far inside Soviet-controlled eastern Germany.
  2. The United States, United Kingdom, and France controlled western portions of the city, while Soviet troops controlled the eastern sector.
  3. As the wartime alliance between the Western Allies and the Soviet Union ended and friendly relations turned hostile, the question of whether the western occupation zones in Berlin would remain under Western Allied control or whether the city would be absorbed into Soviet-controlled eastern Germany led to the first Berlin crisis of the Cold War.

The crisis started on June 24, 1948, when Soviet forces blockaded rail, road, and water access to Allied-controlled areas of Berlin. The United States and United Kingdom responded by airlifting food and fuel to Berlin from Allied airbases in western Germany. What Impact Did The Berlin Wall Have On Germany U.S. Navy and Air Force aircrafts unload at Tempelhof Airport during the Berlin Airlift. (U.S. Air Force) The crisis was a result of competing occupation policies and rising tensions between Western powers and the Soviet Union. After the end of the Second World War, the future of postwar Germany was plagued by the divisions within and between Allied powers.

  1. The only decision of significance that emerged from wartime planning was the agreement of zones of occupation.
  2. Even after the end of hostilities, the problem of what to do about Germany was not successfully addressed at the July 1945 Potsdam Conference.
  3. Not only was there a lack of consistency in the political leadership and policymaking among the British and the Americans, occupation policy on the ground also confronted unforeseen challenges.

Two and a half million Berliners, spread between four zones of occupation, faced profound privations: Allied bombing had reduced the city to rubble, shelter and warmth were scarce, the black market dominated the city’s economic life, and starvation loomed.

  1. While mired in such conditions, Berlin emerged as a forward salient in the Western struggle against the Soviet Union.
  2. The year 1947 saw major shifts in occupation policy in Germany.
  3. On January 1, the United States and United Kingdom unified their respective zones and formed Bizonia, which caused tensions between East and West to escalate.

In March, the breakdown of the Moscow Conference of Foreign Ministers and the enunciation of the Truman Doctrine served to harden the lines of an increasingly bipolar international order. In June, Secretary of State George Marshall announced the European Recovery Program.

  • The purpose of the Marshall Plan—as the program came to be called—was not only to support economic recovery in Western Europe, but also to create a bulwark against Communism by drawing participating states into the United States’ economic orbit.
  • In early 1948, the United States, United Kingdom, and France secretly began to plan the creation of a new German state made up of the Western Allies’ occupation zones.

In March, when the Soviets discovered these designs, they withdrew from the Allied Control Council, which had met regularly since the end of the war in order to coordinate occupation policy between zones. In June, without informing the Soviets, U.S. and British policymakers introduced the new Deutschmark to Bizonia and West Berlin.

  • The purpose of the currency reform was to wrest economic control of the city from the Soviets, enable the introduction of Marshall Plan aid, and curb the city’s black market.
  • Soviet authorities responded with similar moves in their zone.
  • Besides issuing their own currency, the Ostmark, the Soviets blocked all major road, rail, and canal links to West Berlin, thus starving it of electricity, as well as a steady supply of essential food and coal The United States and United Kingdom had few immediate options if hostilities broke out.

Because of the draw down in U.S. and British combat forces since the end of the Second World War, the Red Army stationed in and around Berlin dwarfed the Western Allied military presence. On June 13, 1948, the administrator of U.S.-occupied Germany General Lucius Clay reported to Washington that “There is no practicability in maintaining our position in Berlin and it must not be evaluated on that basis.

  1. We are convinced that our remaining in Berlin is essential to our prestige in Germany and in Europe.
  2. Whether for good or bad, it has become a symbol of the American intent.” The Truman administration agreed.
  3. Based upon written agreements with the Soviet Union in 1945, the only connections to Berlin left to the Western Allies were air corridors from West Germany used to supply Berlin by air.

The administration calculated that if the Soviets opposed the airlift with force, it would be an act of aggression against an unarmed humanitarian mission and the violation of an explicit agreement. Thus, the onus of igniting a conflict between the former allies would be on the aggressor.

The United States launched “Operation Vittles” on June 26, with the United Kingdom following suit two days later with “Operation Plainfare.” Despite the desire for a peaceful resolution to the standoff, the United States also sent to the United Kingdom B-29 bombers, which were capable of carrying nuclear weapons.

The beginning of the airlift proved difficult and Western diplomats asked the Soviets to seek a diplomatic solution to the impasse. The Soviets offered to drop the blockade if the Western Allies withdrew the Deutschmark from West Berlin. Even though the Allies rebuffed the Soviet offer, West Berlin’s position remained precarious, and the standoff had political consequences on the ground.

  1. In September 1948, the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED), the German Communist Party of the Soviet zone of occupation, marched on the Berlin City Council and forced it to adjourn.
  2. Fearing that the Western Allies might halt the airlift and cede West Berlin to the Soviets, 300,000 West Berliners gathered at the Reichstag to show their opposition to Soviet domination.

The turnout convinced the West to keep the airlift and the Deutschmark. In time, the airlift became ever more efficient and the number of aircraft increased. At the height of the campaign, one plane landed every 45 seconds at Tempelhof Airport. By spring 1949, the Berlin Airlift proved successful.

  1. The Western Allies showed that they could sustain the operation indefinitely.
  2. At the same time, the Allied counter-blockade on eastern Germany was causing severe shortages, which, Moscow feared, might lead to political upheaval.
  3. On May 11, 1949, Moscow lifted the blockade of West Berlin.
  4. The Berlin Crisis of 1948–1949 solidified the division of Europe.

Shortly before the end of the blockade, the Western Allies created the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Two weeks after the end of the blockade, the state of West Germany was established, soon followed by the creation of East Germany. The incident solidified the demarcation between East and West in Europe; it was one of the few places on earth that U.S.

How effective was the Berlin Wall?

This article is about the wall that surrounded West Berlin during the Cold War. For the border that divided most of East and West Germany, see Inner German border, For the video game, see The Berlin Wall (video game), For the ring wall around the historic city of Berlin, see Berlin Customs Wall,

Berlin Wall
View from the West Berlin side of graffiti art on the Wall in 1986. The Wall’s “death strip”, on the east side of the Wall, here follows the curve of the Luisenstadt Canal (filled in 1932).
Map of the location of the Berlin Wall, showing checkpoints
General information
Type Wall
Country
  • East Germany
  • East Berlin ; see History of Berlin for further info
Coordinates 52°30′58″N 13°22′37″E  /  52.516°N 13.377°E Coordinates : 52°30′58″N 13°22′37″E  /  52.516°N 13.377°E
Construction started 13 August 1961
Demolished 9 November 1989 – 1994
Dimensions
Other dimensions
  • Border length around West Berlin: 155 km (96 mi)
  • Border length between West Berlin and East Germany: 111.9 km (69.5 mi)
  • Border length between West and East Berlin: 43.1 km (26.8 mi)
  • Border length through residential areas in East Berlin: 37 km (23 mi)
  • Concrete segment of wall height: 3.6 m (11.8 ft)
  • Concrete segment of wall length: 106 km (66 mi)
  • Wire mesh fencing: 66.5 km (41.3 mi)
  • Anti-vehicle trenches length: 105.5 km (65.6 mi)
  • Contact/signal fence length: 127.5 km (79.2 mi)
  • Column track width: 7 m (7.7 yd)
  • Column track length: 124.3 km (77.2 mi)
  • Number of watch towers: 302
  • Number of bunkers: 20
Technical details
Size 155 km (96.3 mi)

Satellite image of Berlin, with the Wall’s location marked in yellow West and East Berlin borders overlaying a current road map ( interactive map ) The Berlin Wall ( German : Berliner Mauer, pronounced ( listen ) ) was a guarded concrete barrier that divided Berlin from 1961 to 1989. It encircled West Berlin, separating it from East German territory. Construction of the wall was commenced by the German Democratic Republic (GDR, East Germany ) on 13 August 1961.

The Wall cut off West Berlin from surrounding East Germany, including East Berlin, It included guard towers placed along large concrete walls, accompanied by a wide area (later known as the “death strip”) that contained anti-vehicle trenches, beds of nails and other defenses. The Eastern Bloc portrayed the Wall as protecting its population from fascist elements conspiring to prevent the “will of the people” from building a socialist state in East Germany.

GDR authorities officially referred to the Berlin Wall as the Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart ( German : Antifaschistischer Schutzwall, pronounced ( listen ) ). The West Berlin city government sometimes referred to it as the ” Wall of Shame “, a term coined by mayor Willy Brandt in reference to the Wall’s restriction on freedom of movement, Along with the separate and much longer Inner German border (IGB), which demarcated the border between East and West Germany, it came to symbolize physically the ” Iron Curtain ” that separated Western Europe and the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War,

Before the Wall’s erection, 3.5 million East Germans circumvented Eastern Bloc emigration restrictions and defected from the GDR, many by crossing over the border from East Berlin into West Berlin; from there they could then travel to West Germany and to other Western European countries. Between 1961 and 1989, the Wall prevented almost all such emigration.

During this period, over 100,000 people attempted to escape, and over 5,000 people succeeded in escaping over the Wall, with an estimated death toll ranging from 136 to more than 200 in and around Berlin. In 1989, a series of revolutions in nearby Eastern Bloc countries—in Poland and Hungary in particular—caused a chain reaction in East Germany.

  • In particular, the Pan-European Picnic in August 1989 set in motion a peaceful development during which the Iron Curtain largely broke, the rulers in the East came under pressure, the Berlin Wall fell and finally the Eastern Bloc fell apart.
  • After several weeks of civil unrest, the East German government announced on 9 November 1989 that all GDR citizens could visit West Germany and West Berlin.

Crowds of East Germans crossed and climbed onto the Wall, joined by West Germans on the other side in a celebratory atmosphere. Over the next few weeks, the likes of souvenir hunters chipped away parts of the Wall. The Brandenburg Gate, a few meters from the Berlin Wall, was opened on 22 December 1989.

What happened to Germany after the Berlin Wall fell?

A little over 30 years ago, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent reunification of Germany were far from certain. It took visionary and courageous leaders—and a healthy dose of trust between them—to navigate what was a tumultuous period in history. Vice President George H.W. Bush looks over the Berlin Wall into East Berlin, escorted by West Berlin Mayor Richard von Weizacker and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, February 1, 1983. (U.S. Department of Defense) “Reunification took a tremendous amount of diplomacy, strong international partnerships, and deft political maneuvering,” said Stephen J.

  • Hadley, chair of the U.S.
  • Institute of Peace’s Board of Directors and a former U.S.
  • National security advisor.
  • To many of the people closest to the process, it was nothing short of a miracle.” On January 28, USIP marked the 30th anniversary of German reunification with the establishment of “Reconciliation Hall” in the Institute’s George H.W.

Bush Peace Education Center. It also hosted two panel discussions that were part of the event ” 30 Years Later: German Reunification Revisited,” The fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, marked the beginning of the end of the Cold War and, eventually, the Soviet Union.

  1. Soviet-occupied East Germany, officially known as the German Democratic Republic, was reunited with West Germany on October 3, 1990.
  2. And the Soviet Union collapsed a year later.
  3. Emily Haber, Germany’s ambassador to the United States, described the collapse of the Berlin Wall as a “sudden gift out of the blue.” “What would come next was anything but clear,” she said, noting that the Soviet Union was still a potent political force at the time and many countries were unconvinced that a unified Germany was in Europe’s best interests.

“In this moment of uncertainty, visionary leaders came to the fore. Key among them was American President George H.W. Bush who had laid out his vision of a Europe whole and free,” she added. Indeed, Haber noted, “German unity would not have been possible without the United States and its support.” Horst Köhler, who served as the president of Germany from 2004 to 2010, said Bush “showed America at its best.

How did the wall affect Germany?

The Berlin wall divided families who found themselves unable to visit each other. Many East Berliners were cut off from their jobs. West Berliners demonstrated against the wall and their mayor Willy Brandt led the criticism against the United States who they felt had failed to respond.

  • The East German government claimed the wall was an ‘anti-fascist protection barrier’ (antifaschistischer Schutzwall) intended to dissuade aggression from the West, despite the fact that all the wall’s defences pointed inward to East German territory.
  • This view was viewed with scepticism even in East Germany.

The wall had caused many families considerable hardship and the western view was that the wall was a means of preventing the people of East Germany from entering West Berlin was widely seen as being the truth. During the wall’s existence there were around 5000 successful escapes into West Berlin.

Varying reports claim that either 192 or 239 people were killed trying to cross the wall and many more were injured. Early successful attempts involved people jumping over the barbed wire fence or leaping from the windows of the apartments that lined the wall. These building were soon boarded up and then demolished.

Later successful attempts include long tunnels, sliding along aerial wires, flying ultra lights and even driving under a checkpoint barrier in a very low sports car. East Berliners became very ingenious in their attempts to flee to the West but sadly many attempts ended in tragedy.

Why was the Berlin Wall created and how did it affect Germany?

Berlin Wall On August 13, 1961, the Communist government of the German Democratic Republic (GDR, or East Germany) began to build a barbed wire and concrete “Antifascistischer Schutzwall,” or “antifascist bulwark,” between East and West Berlin. The official purpose of this Berlin Wall was to keep so-called Western “fascists” from entering East Germany and undermining the socialist state, but it primarily served the objective of stemming mass defections from East to West.

The Berlin Wall stood until November 9, 1989, when the head of the East German Communist Party announced that citizens of the GDR could cross the border whenever they pleased. That night, ecstatic crowds swarmed the wall. Some crossed freely into West Berlin, while others brought hammers and picks and began to chip away at the wall itself.

To this day, the Berlin Wall remains one of the most powerful and enduring symbols of the Cold War.

What were two consequences of the fall of the Berlin Wall?

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, decades of separation and unaligned socio-economic development, brought several differences between East and West Berlin to the fore. The Berlin Wall was a concrete barrier that cut across and divided the city of Berlin from 1961 to 1989 and was constructed in the aftermath of the Second World War.

Why is the Berlin Wall famous?

Two days after sealing off free passage between East and West Berlin with barbed wire, East German authorities begin building a wall—the Berlin Wall—to permanently close off access to the West. For the next 28 years, the heavily fortified Berlin Wall stood as the most tangible symbol of the Cold War—a literal “iron curtain” dividing Europe.

The end of World War II in 1945 saw Germany divided into four Allied occupation zones. Berlin, the German capital, was likewise divided into occupation sectors, even though it was located deep within the Soviet zone. The future of Germany and Berlin was a major sticking point in postwar treaty talks, and tensions grew when the United States, Britain, and France moved in 1948 to unite their occupation zones into a single autonomous entity–the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany).

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In response, the USSR launched a land blockade of West Berlin in an effort to force the West to abandon the city. However, a massive airlift by Britain and the United States kept West Berlin supplied with food and fuel, and in May 1949 the Soviets ended the defeated blockade.

By 1961, Cold War tensions over Berlin were running high again. For East Germans dissatisfied with life under the communist system, West Berlin was a gateway to the democratic West. Between 1949 and 1961, some 2.5 million East Germans fled from East to West Germany, most via West Berlin. By August 1961, an average of 2,000 East Germans were crossing into the West every day.

Many of the refugees were skilled laborers, professionals, and intellectuals, and their loss was having a devastating effect on the East German economy. To halt the exodus to the West, Soviet leader Nikita Khruschev recommended to East Germany that it close off access between East and West Berlin.

READ MORE: All the Ways People Escaped Across the Berlin Wall On the night of August 12-13, 1961, East German soldiers laid down more than 30 miles of barbed wire barrier through the heart of Berlin. East Berlin citizens were forbidden to pass into West Berlin, and the number of checkpoints in which Westerners could cross the border was drastically reduced.

The West, taken by surprise, threatened a trade embargo against East Germany as a retaliatory measure. The Soviets responded that such an embargo be answered with a new land blockade of West Berlin. When it became evident that the West was not going to take any major action to protest the closing, East German authorities became emboldened, closing off more and more checkpoints between East and West Berlin.

  1. On August 15, they began replacing barbed wire with concrete.
  2. The wall, East German authorities declared, would protect their citizens from the pernicious influence of decadent capitalist culture.
  3. The first concrete pilings went up on the Bernauer Strasse and at the Potsdamer Platz.
  4. Sullen East German workers, a few in tears, constructed the first segments of the Berlin Wall as East German troops stood guarding them with machine guns.

With the border closing permanently, escape attempts by East Germans intensified on August 15. Conrad Schumann, a 19-year-old East German soldier, provided the subject for a famous image when he was photographed leaping over the barbed-wire barrier to freedom.

  • During the rest of 1961, the grim and unsightly Berlin Wall continued to grow in size and scope, eventually consisting of a series of concrete walls up to 15 feet high.
  • These walls were topped with barbed wire and guarded with watchtowers, machine gun emplacements, and mines.
  • By the 1980s, this system of walls and electrified fences extended 28 miles through Berlin and 75 miles around West Berlin, separating it from the rest of East Germany.

The East Germans also erected an extensive barrier along most of the 850-mile border between East and West Germany. In the West, the Berlin Wall was regarded as a major symbol of communist oppression. About 5,000 East Germans managed to escape across the Berlin Wall to the West, but the frequency of successful escapes dwindled as the wall was increasingly fortified.

  1. Thousands of East Germans were captured during attempted crossings and 191 were killed.
  2. In 1989, East Germany’s communist regime was overwhelmed by the democratization sweeping across Eastern Europe.
  3. On the evening of November 9, 1989, East Germany announced an easing of travel restrictions to the West, and thousands demanded passage though the Berlin Wall.

Faced with growing demonstrations, East German border guards opened the borders. Jubilant Berliners climbed on top of the Berlin Wall, painted graffiti on it, and removed fragments as souvenirs. The next day, East German troops began dismantling the wall.

In 1990, East and West Germany were formally reunited, READ MORE: The Surprising Human Factors Behind the Fall of the Berlin Wall On August 15, 1780, American Lieutenant Colonel Francis Marion, the “Swamp Fox,” and his irregular cavalry force of 250 rout a party of Loyalists commanded by Major Micajah Gainey at Port’s Ferry, South Carolina.

Meanwhile, General Horatio Gates’ men consumed half-baked bread,,read more At the Battle of Lumphanan, King Macbeth of Scotland is slain by Malcolm Canmore, whose father, King Duncan I, was murdered by Macbeth 17 years earlier. Macbeth was a grandson of King Kenneth II and also had a claim to the throne through his wife, Gruoch, who was the,read more The American-built waterway across the Isthmus of Panama, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, is inaugurated with the passage of the U.S.

Vessel Ancon, a cargo and passenger ship. The rush of settlers to California and Oregon in the mid 19th century was the initial,read more The Indian Independence Bill, which carves the independent nations of India and Pakistan out of the former Mogul Empire, comes into force at the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947.

The long-awaited agreement ended 200 years of British rule and was hailed by Indian independence,read more Emperor Hirohito broadcasts the news of Japan’s surrender to the Japanese people on August 15, 1945 (August 14 in the West because of time-zone differences).

Although Tokyo had already communicated to the Allies its acceptance of the surrender terms of the Potsdam Conference,read more On August 15, 1914, the government of Japan sends an ultimatum to Germany, demanding the removal of all German ships from Japanese and Chinese waters and the surrender of control of Tsingtao—the location of Germany’s largest overseas naval bases, located on China’s Shantung,read more Heavy fighting intensifies in and around the DMZ, as South Vietnamese and U.S.

troops engage a North Vietnamese battalion. In a seven and a half hour battle, 165 enemy troops were killed. At the same time, U.S. Marines attacked three strategic positions just south of the DMZ,,read more On August 15, 1969, the Woodstock music festival opens on a patch of farmland in White Lake, a hamlet in the upstate New York town of Bethel.

  1. Promoters John Roberts, Joel Rosenman, Artie Kornfield and Michael Lang originally envisioned the festival as a way to raise funds to,read more Apocalypse Now, the acclaimed Vietnam War film directed by Francis Ford Coppola, opens in theaters around the United States on August 15, 1979.
  2. The film, inspired in part by Joseph Conrad’s 1899 novella Heart of Darkness, among other sources, told the story of an Army captain,read more Mary Winkler, who confessed to fatally shooting her pastor husband Matthew Winkler in his sleep at their church parsonage in Selmer, Tennessee, is released from jail on $750,000 bail.

Winkler was later convicted in his killing, but served only a short time in prison. On March 22,,read more On August 15, 1899, in Detroit, Michigan, Henry Ford resigns his position as chief engineer at the Edison Illuminating Company’s main plant in order to concentrate on automobile production.

Why was the Berlin Wall a crisis?

Berlin Crisis of 1961
Part of Cold War
U.S. M48 tanks face Soviet T-55 tanks at Checkpoint Charlie, October 1961.
Date 4 June – 9 November 1961
Location Checkpoint Charlie
Result Stalemate

/td> Belligerents Soviet Union East Germany Supported by: Warsaw Pact (Except Albania) United States West Germany Supported by: NATO Commanders and leaders Nikita Khrushchev John F. Kennedy

The Berlin Crisis of 1961 ( German : Berlin-Krise ) occurred between 4 June – 9 November 1961, and was the last major European politico-military incident of the Cold War about the occupational status of the German capital city, Berlin, and of post–World War II Germany,

What are three reasons why the Soviets put up the Berlin Wall?

Key Terms – Checkpoint Charlie The name given by the Western Allies to the best-known Berlin Wall crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War. Inner German border The border between the German Democratic Republic (GDR, East Germany) and the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG, West Germany) from 1949 to 1990.

Not including the similar but physically separate Berlin Wall, the border was 866 miles long and ran from the Baltic Sea to Czechoslovakia. German Democratic Republic A state in the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War period. From 1949 to 1990, it administered the region of Germany occupied by Soviet forces at the end of World War II.

The Berlin Wall was a barrier that divided Germany from 1961 to 1989. Constructed by the German Democratic Republic (GDR, East Germany) starting on August 13, 1961, the Wall completely cut off West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin until government officials opened it in November 1989.

Its demolition officially began on June 13, 1990 and was completed in 1992. The barrier included guard towers placed along large concrete walls, which circumscribed a wide area (later known as the “death strip”) that contained anti-vehicle trenches, “fakir beds,” and other defenses. The Eastern Bloc claimed that the Wall was erected to protect its population from fascist elements conspiring to prevent the “will of the people” in building a socialist state in East Germany.

In practice, the Wall prevented the massive emigration and defection that had marked East Germany and the communist Eastern Bloc during the post-World War II period. The Berlin Wall was officially referred to as the “Anti-Fascist Protective Wall” by GDR authorities, implying that the NATO countries and West Germany in particular were considered “fascists” by GDR propaganda.

  1. The West Berlin city government sometimes referred to it as the “Wall of Shame”—a term coined by mayor Willy Brandt—while condemning the Wall’s restriction on freedom of movement.
  2. Along with the separate and much longer Inner German border (IGB), which demarcated the border between East and West Germany, it came to symbolize a physical marker of the “Iron Curtain” that separated Western Europe and the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War.

Before the Wall’s erection, 3.5 million East Germans circumvented Eastern Bloc emigration restrictions and defected from the GDR, many by crossing over the border from East Berlin into West Berlin. From there, they could travel to West Germany and other Western European countries. Berlin Wall: Photograph of the Berlin Wall taken from the West side. The Wall was built in 1961 to prevent East Germans from fleeing and stop an economically disastrous migration of workers. It was a symbol of the Cold War, and its fall in 1989 marked the approaching end of the war.

  • With the closing of the East-West sector boundary in Berlin, the vast majority of East Germans could no longer travel or emigrate to West Germany.
  • Berlin soon went from the easiest place to make an unauthorized crossing between East and West Germany to the most difficult.
  • Many families were split, and East Berliners employed in the West were cut off from their jobs.

West Berlin became an isolated exclave in a hostile land. West Berliners demonstrated against the Wall, led by their Mayor Willy Brandt, who strongly criticized the United States for failing to respond. Allied intelligence agencies had hypothesized about a wall to stop the flood of refugees, but the main candidate for its location was around the perimeter of the city.

In 1961, Secretary of State Dean Rusk proclaimed, “The Wall certainly ought not to be a permanent feature of the European landscape. I see no reason why the Soviet Union should think it is to their advantage in any way to leave there that monument to communist failure.” United States and UK sources expected the Soviet sector to be sealed off from West Berlin, but were surprised how long they took to do so.

They considered the Wall an end to concerns about a GDR/Soviet retaking or capture of the whole of Berlin; the Wall would presumably have been an unnecessary project if such plans were afloat. Thus, they concluded that the possibility of a Soviet military conflict over Berlin had decreased.

  • The East German government claimed that the Wall was an “anti-fascist protective rampart” intended to dissuade aggression from the West.
  • Another official justification was the activities of Western agents in Eastern Europe.
  • The Eastern German government also claimed that West Berliners were buying state-subsidized goods in East Berlin.

East Germans and others greeted such statements with skepticism, as most of the time the border was closed for citizens of East Germany traveling to the West but not for residents of West Berlin travelling East. The construction of the Wall caused considerable hardship to families divided by it.

  1. Most people believed that the Wall was mainly a means of preventing the citizens of East Germany from entering or fleeing to West Berlin.
  2. During the years of the Wall, around 5,000 people successfully defected to West Berlin.
  3. The number of people who died trying to cross the Wall or as a result of the Wall’s existence has been disputed.

The most vocal claims by Alexandra Hildebrandt, Director of the Checkpoint Charlie Museum and widow of the Museum’s founder, estimated the death toll to be well above 200. The East German government issued shooting orders to border guards dealing with defectors, though these are not the same as “shoot to kill” orders.

GDR officials denied issuing the latter. In an October 1973 order later discovered by researchers, guards were instructed that people attempting to cross the Wall were criminals and needed to be shot: “Do not hesitate to use your firearm, not even when the border is breached in the company of women and children, which is a tactic the traitors have often used.” Early successful escapes involved people jumping the initial barbed wire or leaping out of apartment windows along the line, but these ended as the Wall was fortified.

East German authorities no longer permitted apartments near the Wall to be occupied, and any building near the Wall had its windows boarded and later bricked up. On August 15, 1961, Conrad Schumann was the first East German border guard to escape by jumping the barbed wire to West Berlin.

  • On 22 August 1961, Ida Siekmann was the first casualty at the Berlin Wall: she died after she jumped out of her third floor apartment at 48 Bernauer Strasse.
  • The first person to be shot and killed while trying to cross to West Berlin was Günter Litfin, a 24-year-old tailor.
  • He attempted to swim across the Spree Canal to West Germany on August 24, 1961, the same day that East German police received shoot-to-kill orders to prevent anyone from escaping.

East Germans successfully defected by a variety of methods: digging long tunnels under the Wall, waiting for favorable winds and taking a hot air balloon, sliding along aerial wires, flying ultralights and, in one instance, simply driving a sports car at full speed through the basic initial fortifications.

  • When a metal beam was placed at checkpoints to prevent this kind of defection, up to four people (two in the front seats and possibly two in the boot) drove under the bar in a sports car that had been modified to allow the roof and windscreen to come away when it made contact with the beam.
  • They lay flat and kept driving forward.

The East Germans then built zig-zagging roads at checkpoints.

What were 3 of the effects of the Berlin Conference?

CHAPTER 2 : THE BERLIN WEST AFRICAN CONFERENCE 1884-1885 It prevented European powers from going to war over African territories. The conference encourage the promotion of Christianity which reduced paganism. It lead to the opening of plantation, firms, construction of administrative units, which created jobs.

What were the long term effects of the Berlin Conference?

The first effect of the conference was the domination of the majority of Africa by European powers for almost seventy years. Much of Africa did not gain independence until the period from 1955 to 1975. Another long-term effect of the conference is the problem of national borders.

What was the main effect of the Berlin Conference?

One thing is clear—the Berlin Conference established the legal claim by Europeans that all of Africa could be occupied by whomever could take it. It also established a process for Europeans to cooperate rather than fight with each other. This cooperation played a huge role in the division and conquest of Africa.

Does any of the Berlin Wall still stand?

Sekundäre Navigation – Most visitors to Berlin want to see the Wall. But of the concrete barrier that once divided the German capital, only remnants remain. Where to find pieces of the real thing – and which structures are only a replica.

© dpa For more than 28 years, the Wall divided East and West Berlin. Today, almost nothing is left of it. © dpa Berlin Wall at the East Side Gallery © dpa In many places, metal plates in the ground remind us where the Wall once stood.

Whoever comes to the capital wants to see it. But of the wall that once divided Berlin, only remnants remain. Where there is still a real wall – and what is only a replica. © dpa Berlin Wall Memorial at Bernauer Strasse

Why Germany was divided?

What was the Berlin Wall and how did it fall? What Impact Did The Berlin Wall Have On Germany 1. Berlin was a divided city before the wall At the end of the, Germany was divided into four zones of occupation under the control of the United States, Britain, France and the Soviet Union. Berlin, although located within the Soviet zone, was also split amongst the four powers. What Impact Did The Berlin Wall Have On Germany 2. The Berlin Wall came to represent the ideological divisions of the Cold War This photograph shows British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, American President Harry Truman and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin at the Potsdam Conference on 23 July 1945. The relationship between the former wartime Allies, although tense from as early as 1942, became increasingly strained as they struggled to reach agreement on the shape of post-war Europe.

  • By 1945, the United States and the Soviet Union had begun to emerge as ideologically opposed ‘superpowers’, each wanting to exert their influence in the post-war world.
  • Germany became a focus of Cold War politics and as divisions between East and West became more pronounced, so too did the division of Germany.

In 1949, Germany formally split into two independent nations: the Federal Republic of Germany (FDR or West Germany), allied to the Western democracies, and the German Democratic Republic (GDR or East Germany), allied to the Soviet Union. In 1952, the East German government closed the border with West Germany, but the border between East and West Berlin remained open. What Impact Did The Berlin Wall Have On Germany 3. The Berlin Wall developed over time In 1961, rumours spread that measures would be introduced to strengthen the border and stop East Germans from leaving for the West. On 15 June, East German leader Walter Ulbricht declared that ‘no one has the intention of building a wall’, but on the night of 12-13 August a wire barrier was constructed around West Berlin.

Established crossing points between the Western and Soviet sectors were closed, dividing neighbourhoods and separating families overnight. From this barbed wire barricade, the Wall would eventually develop into a fortified concrete structure encircling West Berlin and isolating it from the surrounding East German territory.

In this photograph, construction workers are supervised by East German guards as they build part of the Berlin Wall in 1961. What Impact Did The Berlin Wall Have On Germany 4. The Berlin Wall was heavily guarded The Berlin Wall was not one wall, but two. Measuring 155 kilometres (96 miles) long and four metres (13 feet) tall, these walls were separated by a heavily guarded, mined corridor of land known as the ‘death strip’. What Impact Did The Berlin Wall Have On Germany 5. The Berlin Wall fell on 9 November 1989 In 1989, political changes in Eastern Europe and civil unrest in Germany put pressure on the East German government to loosen some of its regulations on travel to West Germany. At a press conference on 9 November, East German spokesman Günter Schabowski announced that East Germans would be free to travel into West Germany, starting immediately.

He failed to clarify that some regulations would remain in place. Western media inaccurately reported that the border had opened and crowds quickly gathered at checkpoints on both sides of the Wall. Passport checks were eventually abandoned and people crossed the border unrestricted. East and West Berliners came together in celebration.

The was the first step towards German reunification. The political, economic and social impact of the fall of the Berlin Wall further weakened the already unstable East German government. Germany reunited on 3 October 1990, 11 months after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

When was the Berlin Wall built and what was its purpose?

Key Terms – Checkpoint Charlie The name given by the Western Allies to the best-known Berlin Wall crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War. Inner German border The border between the German Democratic Republic (GDR, East Germany) and the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG, West Germany) from 1949 to 1990.

  • Not including the similar but physically separate Berlin Wall, the border was 866 miles long and ran from the Baltic Sea to Czechoslovakia.
  • German Democratic Republic A state in the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War period.
  • From 1949 to 1990, it administered the region of Germany occupied by Soviet forces at the end of World War II.

The Berlin Wall was a barrier that divided Germany from 1961 to 1989. Constructed by the German Democratic Republic (GDR, East Germany) starting on August 13, 1961, the Wall completely cut off West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin until government officials opened it in November 1989.

Its demolition officially began on June 13, 1990 and was completed in 1992. The barrier included guard towers placed along large concrete walls, which circumscribed a wide area (later known as the “death strip”) that contained anti-vehicle trenches, “fakir beds,” and other defenses. The Eastern Bloc claimed that the Wall was erected to protect its population from fascist elements conspiring to prevent the “will of the people” in building a socialist state in East Germany.

In practice, the Wall prevented the massive emigration and defection that had marked East Germany and the communist Eastern Bloc during the post-World War II period. The Berlin Wall was officially referred to as the “Anti-Fascist Protective Wall” by GDR authorities, implying that the NATO countries and West Germany in particular were considered “fascists” by GDR propaganda.

The West Berlin city government sometimes referred to it as the “Wall of Shame”—a term coined by mayor Willy Brandt—while condemning the Wall’s restriction on freedom of movement. Along with the separate and much longer Inner German border (IGB), which demarcated the border between East and West Germany, it came to symbolize a physical marker of the “Iron Curtain” that separated Western Europe and the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War.

The rise and fall of the Berlin Wall – Konrad H. Jarausch

Before the Wall’s erection, 3.5 million East Germans circumvented Eastern Bloc emigration restrictions and defected from the GDR, many by crossing over the border from East Berlin into West Berlin. From there, they could travel to West Germany and other Western European countries. Berlin Wall: Photograph of the Berlin Wall taken from the West side. The Wall was built in 1961 to prevent East Germans from fleeing and stop an economically disastrous migration of workers. It was a symbol of the Cold War, and its fall in 1989 marked the approaching end of the war.

With the closing of the East-West sector boundary in Berlin, the vast majority of East Germans could no longer travel or emigrate to West Germany. Berlin soon went from the easiest place to make an unauthorized crossing between East and West Germany to the most difficult. Many families were split, and East Berliners employed in the West were cut off from their jobs.

West Berlin became an isolated exclave in a hostile land. West Berliners demonstrated against the Wall, led by their Mayor Willy Brandt, who strongly criticized the United States for failing to respond. Allied intelligence agencies had hypothesized about a wall to stop the flood of refugees, but the main candidate for its location was around the perimeter of the city.

In 1961, Secretary of State Dean Rusk proclaimed, “The Wall certainly ought not to be a permanent feature of the European landscape. I see no reason why the Soviet Union should think it is to their advantage in any way to leave there that monument to communist failure.” United States and UK sources expected the Soviet sector to be sealed off from West Berlin, but were surprised how long they took to do so.

They considered the Wall an end to concerns about a GDR/Soviet retaking or capture of the whole of Berlin; the Wall would presumably have been an unnecessary project if such plans were afloat. Thus, they concluded that the possibility of a Soviet military conflict over Berlin had decreased.

  • The East German government claimed that the Wall was an “anti-fascist protective rampart” intended to dissuade aggression from the West.
  • Another official justification was the activities of Western agents in Eastern Europe.
  • The Eastern German government also claimed that West Berliners were buying state-subsidized goods in East Berlin.

East Germans and others greeted such statements with skepticism, as most of the time the border was closed for citizens of East Germany traveling to the West but not for residents of West Berlin travelling East. The construction of the Wall caused considerable hardship to families divided by it.

  1. Most people believed that the Wall was mainly a means of preventing the citizens of East Germany from entering or fleeing to West Berlin.
  2. During the years of the Wall, around 5,000 people successfully defected to West Berlin.
  3. The number of people who died trying to cross the Wall or as a result of the Wall’s existence has been disputed.

The most vocal claims by Alexandra Hildebrandt, Director of the Checkpoint Charlie Museum and widow of the Museum’s founder, estimated the death toll to be well above 200. The East German government issued shooting orders to border guards dealing with defectors, though these are not the same as “shoot to kill” orders.

  1. GDR officials denied issuing the latter.
  2. In an October 1973 order later discovered by researchers, guards were instructed that people attempting to cross the Wall were criminals and needed to be shot: “Do not hesitate to use your firearm, not even when the border is breached in the company of women and children, which is a tactic the traitors have often used.” Early successful escapes involved people jumping the initial barbed wire or leaping out of apartment windows along the line, but these ended as the Wall was fortified.

East German authorities no longer permitted apartments near the Wall to be occupied, and any building near the Wall had its windows boarded and later bricked up. On August 15, 1961, Conrad Schumann was the first East German border guard to escape by jumping the barbed wire to West Berlin.

On 22 August 1961, Ida Siekmann was the first casualty at the Berlin Wall: she died after she jumped out of her third floor apartment at 48 Bernauer Strasse. The first person to be shot and killed while trying to cross to West Berlin was Günter Litfin, a 24-year-old tailor. He attempted to swim across the Spree Canal to West Germany on August 24, 1961, the same day that East German police received shoot-to-kill orders to prevent anyone from escaping.

East Germans successfully defected by a variety of methods: digging long tunnels under the Wall, waiting for favorable winds and taking a hot air balloon, sliding along aerial wires, flying ultralights and, in one instance, simply driving a sports car at full speed through the basic initial fortifications.

  1. When a metal beam was placed at checkpoints to prevent this kind of defection, up to four people (two in the front seats and possibly two in the boot) drove under the bar in a sports car that had been modified to allow the roof and windscreen to come away when it made contact with the beam.
  2. They lay flat and kept driving forward.

The East Germans then built zig-zagging roads at checkpoints.

When was the Berlin Wall created and for what purpose?

Two days after sealing off free passage between East and West Berlin with barbed wire, East German authorities begin building a wall—the Berlin Wall—to permanently close off access to the West. For the next 28 years, the heavily fortified Berlin Wall stood as the most tangible symbol of the Cold War—a literal “iron curtain” dividing Europe.

The end of World War II in 1945 saw Germany divided into four Allied occupation zones. Berlin, the German capital, was likewise divided into occupation sectors, even though it was located deep within the Soviet zone. The future of Germany and Berlin was a major sticking point in postwar treaty talks, and tensions grew when the United States, Britain, and France moved in 1948 to unite their occupation zones into a single autonomous entity–the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany).

In response, the USSR launched a land blockade of West Berlin in an effort to force the West to abandon the city. However, a massive airlift by Britain and the United States kept West Berlin supplied with food and fuel, and in May 1949 the Soviets ended the defeated blockade.

By 1961, Cold War tensions over Berlin were running high again. For East Germans dissatisfied with life under the communist system, West Berlin was a gateway to the democratic West. Between 1949 and 1961, some 2.5 million East Germans fled from East to West Germany, most via West Berlin. By August 1961, an average of 2,000 East Germans were crossing into the West every day.

Many of the refugees were skilled laborers, professionals, and intellectuals, and their loss was having a devastating effect on the East German economy. To halt the exodus to the West, Soviet leader Nikita Khruschev recommended to East Germany that it close off access between East and West Berlin.

  • READ MORE: All the Ways People Escaped Across the Berlin Wall On the night of August 12-13, 1961, East German soldiers laid down more than 30 miles of barbed wire barrier through the heart of Berlin.
  • East Berlin citizens were forbidden to pass into West Berlin, and the number of checkpoints in which Westerners could cross the border was drastically reduced.

The West, taken by surprise, threatened a trade embargo against East Germany as a retaliatory measure. The Soviets responded that such an embargo be answered with a new land blockade of West Berlin. When it became evident that the West was not going to take any major action to protest the closing, East German authorities became emboldened, closing off more and more checkpoints between East and West Berlin.

On August 15, they began replacing barbed wire with concrete. The wall, East German authorities declared, would protect their citizens from the pernicious influence of decadent capitalist culture. The first concrete pilings went up on the Bernauer Strasse and at the Potsdamer Platz. Sullen East German workers, a few in tears, constructed the first segments of the Berlin Wall as East German troops stood guarding them with machine guns.

With the border closing permanently, escape attempts by East Germans intensified on August 15. Conrad Schumann, a 19-year-old East German soldier, provided the subject for a famous image when he was photographed leaping over the barbed-wire barrier to freedom.

During the rest of 1961, the grim and unsightly Berlin Wall continued to grow in size and scope, eventually consisting of a series of concrete walls up to 15 feet high. These walls were topped with barbed wire and guarded with watchtowers, machine gun emplacements, and mines. By the 1980s, this system of walls and electrified fences extended 28 miles through Berlin and 75 miles around West Berlin, separating it from the rest of East Germany.

The East Germans also erected an extensive barrier along most of the 850-mile border between East and West Germany. In the West, the Berlin Wall was regarded as a major symbol of communist oppression. About 5,000 East Germans managed to escape across the Berlin Wall to the West, but the frequency of successful escapes dwindled as the wall was increasingly fortified.

  • Thousands of East Germans were captured during attempted crossings and 191 were killed.
  • In 1989, East Germany’s communist regime was overwhelmed by the democratization sweeping across Eastern Europe.
  • On the evening of November 9, 1989, East Germany announced an easing of travel restrictions to the West, and thousands demanded passage though the Berlin Wall.

Faced with growing demonstrations, East German border guards opened the borders. Jubilant Berliners climbed on top of the Berlin Wall, painted graffiti on it, and removed fragments as souvenirs. The next day, East German troops began dismantling the wall.

In 1990, East and West Germany were formally reunited, READ MORE: The Surprising Human Factors Behind the Fall of the Berlin Wall On August 15, 1780, American Lieutenant Colonel Francis Marion, the “Swamp Fox,” and his irregular cavalry force of 250 rout a party of Loyalists commanded by Major Micajah Gainey at Port’s Ferry, South Carolina.

Meanwhile, General Horatio Gates’ men consumed half-baked bread,,read more At the Battle of Lumphanan, King Macbeth of Scotland is slain by Malcolm Canmore, whose father, King Duncan I, was murdered by Macbeth 17 years earlier. Macbeth was a grandson of King Kenneth II and also had a claim to the throne through his wife, Gruoch, who was the,read more The American-built waterway across the Isthmus of Panama, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, is inaugurated with the passage of the U.S.

vessel Ancon, a cargo and passenger ship. The rush of settlers to California and Oregon in the mid 19th century was the initial,read more The Indian Independence Bill, which carves the independent nations of India and Pakistan out of the former Mogul Empire, comes into force at the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947.

The long-awaited agreement ended 200 years of British rule and was hailed by Indian independence,read more Emperor Hirohito broadcasts the news of Japan’s surrender to the Japanese people on August 15, 1945 (August 14 in the West because of time-zone differences).

Although Tokyo had already communicated to the Allies its acceptance of the surrender terms of the Potsdam Conference,read more On August 15, 1914, the government of Japan sends an ultimatum to Germany, demanding the removal of all German ships from Japanese and Chinese waters and the surrender of control of Tsingtao—the location of Germany’s largest overseas naval bases, located on China’s Shantung,read more Heavy fighting intensifies in and around the DMZ, as South Vietnamese and U.S.

troops engage a North Vietnamese battalion. In a seven and a half hour battle, 165 enemy troops were killed. At the same time, U.S. Marines attacked three strategic positions just south of the DMZ,,read more On August 15, 1969, the Woodstock music festival opens on a patch of farmland in White Lake, a hamlet in the upstate New York town of Bethel.

Promoters John Roberts, Joel Rosenman, Artie Kornfield and Michael Lang originally envisioned the festival as a way to raise funds to,read more Apocalypse Now, the acclaimed Vietnam War film directed by Francis Ford Coppola, opens in theaters around the United States on August 15, 1979. The film, inspired in part by Joseph Conrad’s 1899 novella Heart of Darkness, among other sources, told the story of an Army captain,read more Mary Winkler, who confessed to fatally shooting her pastor husband Matthew Winkler in his sleep at their church parsonage in Selmer, Tennessee, is released from jail on $750,000 bail.

Winkler was later convicted in his killing, but served only a short time in prison. On March 22,,read more On August 15, 1899, in Detroit, Michigan, Henry Ford resigns his position as chief engineer at the Edison Illuminating Company’s main plant in order to concentrate on automobile production.

Was the Berlin Wall a success or failure?

Failing through success – Despite fulfilling its purpose on most of the levels, the Berlin Wall was ultimately a major failure on part of the entire eastern bloc. Its visual appearance was reminiscent of prison walls, and despite what party officials claimed, everyone knew its main goal was to keep people in, not out.

  1. Thus, the mere existence of the Berlin Wall posed a question of communist rule legitimacy.
  2. How good a regime could be if it had to force its own people to stay under it? With that, the wall became a picturesque example of everything wrong with the entire eastern bloc and ruling communist ideologies.
  3. In the long run, it proved too damaging from the propaganda and ideological perspective.

Its image was only worsened by the fact that it’s guards were allowed to shoot any trespassers. It is estimated that around 200 people, if not more, were killed during their attempts to cross the wall. Such images added to the grim impression of the Berlin Wall.

  • To make matters worse for the East German government, it wasn’t a cheap project, especially for a country that wasn’t experiencing any type of economic prosperity.
  • Some estimates go up to 500 million East German marks per year for maintaining and upgrading the wall.
  • In perspective, a loaf of bread was about 1 mark.

Thus, it put additional strain on the already ineffective economy.