Erected around the summer of 1961, the Berlin Wall was a physical blockade built by East German authorities to curb emigration (brain drain) of its members to West Germany. In...
Tagged: Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall was a barrier that divided East and West Berlin from 1961 to 1989, preventing East Germans from fleeing to the West.
Here are 13 frequently asked questions about the Berlin Wall:
Why was the Berlin Wall built?
The wall was built by the East German government to prevent its citizens from defecting to West Germany, due to political, economic, and social differences between East (communist) and West (capitalist) Germany.
How long was the Wall?
The Berlin Wall spanned approximately 155 kilometers (about 96 miles) around the three western sectors of Berlin.
Were people killed trying to cross the Wall?
Yes, it’s estimated that over 140 people died trying to escape East Berlin, though exact numbers vary.
Who ordered the construction of the Wall?
The East German government, led by Walter Ulbricht and backed by the Soviet Union, ordered its construction.
When did the Wall fall?
The Berlin Wall fell on November 9, 1989.
Why did the Wall fall?
A combination of political pressure, civil resistance, and errors in communication led to the Wall’s fall. The East German government made a miscommunicated announcement about relaxed travel restrictions, leading massive crowds to gather and eventually dismantle the Wall.
What was “Checkpoint Charlie”?
Checkpoint Charlie was the most famous border crossing point between East and West Berlin during the Cold War, mainly for foreigners and members of the Allied forces.
What were the long-term effects of the Wall on Germany?
The Wall’s presence deepened the economic, social, and political divide between East and West Germany. Its fall began the process of German reunification, which was completed in 1990.
However, economic and cultural differences between the former East and West persist to some extent even today.
How is the fall of the Wall commemorated?
Germany commemorates the fall of the Wall with various memorials in Berlin, like the Berlin Wall Memorial and East Side Gallery. November 9 is celebrated as the day marking the peaceful revolution that led to German reunification.
Can I see remnants of the Wall today?
Yes, several sections of the Wall still stand as historical monuments, most notably the East Side Gallery, which is a long stretch of the Wall covered in murals and graffiti.
Was the Berlin Wall the only border fortification between East and West Germany?
No, the Berlin Wall was the most infamous, but there was also the “Inner German Border” that separated East and West Germany as countries. This border was fortified with fences, guard towers, and minefields.
How did the international community react to the Wall’s construction and its eventual fall?
The Wall’s construction was widely condemned, especially by Western nations, as a stark symbol of Cold War tensions. Its fall was celebrated worldwide as a triumph of freedom over oppression and a signal of the Cold War’s waning.