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The Berlin Wall started to be formed in 1961, when on 12th August the East German authorities made the decision to close the border, claiming it was to defend East Berlin against Western aggression. The next day, Berliners awoke to find that West Berlin had been surrounded by barbed wire, traffic through the border was stopped, the underground and S-bahn that connected both sides of the city were suspended, and houses on the eastern side were evacuated with the windows facing the border bricked up.

After the Second World War and the defeat of Germany, the country was divided into four parts, with American, British, French, and Soviet occupation zones. Berlin itself was also divided into 4 sectors. In 1948 the Soviet’s, in an attempt to control the whole of the city, blockaded the western side of Berlin, but the western allies responded with a massive airlift of provisions, and the blockade failed. Up until 1961, Germans could move freely between East and West Berlin. But with an estimated 20,000 East Berliners a month leaving for the more prosperous western sectors, the border was closed.

Although the wall was designed to prevent East Germans from emigrating to the West, an estimated 5,000 people made it safely across. Methods ranged from simply throwing a rope over the Wall and climbing over, to crashing into the wall with a lorry or bus and making a run for freedom. Over time as the wall was developed and strengthened, other methods of escape were devised. Tunnels were dug from basements of nearby buildings, and even a hot air balloon was built and flown over the Wall.

Gradually a wall 3.6 meters high with a total of 302 watchtowers replaced the original barbed wire, and guards manning the 155 kilometer long border were ordered to shoot anyone trying to escape to West Berlin.

Berlin Wall 3The fall of the Berlin Wall came as suddenly as it was constructed. The Communist block was weakening. The East German leaders were starting to introduce a number of minor changes, but this was not enough for the German people, then suddenly, on the evening of 9th November 1989, an announcement made by the East German government made clear that Permanent relocations can be done through all border checkpoints between East and West. East Germans when they approached the border, found that the guards were not stopping people from crossing. In no time the Berlin Wall was inundated with people from both sides of the divide. There were massive celebrations and some began attacking the wall with what tools they could muster.

After the demise of the wall, East and West Germany were reunified on 3rd October 1990 into a single German state. The wall has all but disapeared with just a few small stretches remaining as evidence of what was. The path the wall took is preserved, and marked with a line of stones inserted into the ground.

Berlin Wall 1 Berlin Wall 2 Berlin Wall Map Berlin Wall 4

Berlin Wall