Why was the Berlin Wall Constructed?
There are many well known man-made structures around the world, but none as notorious as the Berlin Wall. The Berlin Wall was constructed in 1961 with construction beginning on August 13th. The purpose of the wall was to separate West Berlin from East Berlin and East Germany. It was a political move to stop Eastern Germans escaping from the Soviet controlled German Democratic Republic into the west of the city which was under the control of the allied forces. Thousands of people from the east were fleeing to the west as they became disillusioned with communism and looked for freedom. Berlin was a unique city in that half was controlled by the soviet government or the German Democratic Republic and the other half by the western allied forces.
How was the Berlin Wall Built?
The wall was constructed almost overnight with a well planned approach. The Soviet workforce tore up the streets of Berlin placing large paving stones as barricades. Tanks were massed at crucial transport points such as subways and train stations to prevent anyone crossing from the east to the west or vise visa. Within a day the west of Berlin was completely cut off from the east of the city. Eastern Germans were no longer allowed to enter the West of the city including approximately 60,000 who worked in the west but lived in the east. Families were separated and many could not return home as their house was now on the wrong side of the city.
The first wall was nothing more than a guarded barbed wire fence, but this was discovered to be too easy to breach. Construction begun in 1965 on a concrete wall with guard towers, anti-vehicle pits, beds of nails and other defenses. The area between the two fences became known as the death strip as many who tried to escape died in that space between the fences.
When did the Berlin Wall Fall?
The idea of the Berlin Wall was destroyed in 1989 when a government decision made it allowable for east Germans to travel anywhere abroad. This was announced on television and thousands of people turned up at the Berlin Wall demanding the right to cross into West Berlin. This essentially crumbled the purpose of the wall which was to separate East Germany from the West of Berlin which was controlled by Ally Forces. The demolition of the Berlin Wall began on June 13th 1990. Today remnants of the Berlin Wall can be found at Bernauer Strasse and in front of the Neiderkirchnerstrasse, the former Prussian Parliament and current Berlin Parliament.