The Berlin Wall was the witness to the era of separated Germany. Its formation marked an important milestone of not only German history in particular but also of the whole world - the period of the cold war. Its demise led to German reunification and marked an important milestone in modern world history.
After World War II, being a defeated country, Germany was divided into 4 parts by the Allies (USA, UK, France, Soviet Union) when they occupied it. The eastern part was under Soviet control. The western part belonged to the 3 countries of England, America and France. The capital Berlin at that time belonged to the control of the Soviet Union but it was an important part of Germany, so it was also divided into 4 parts like Germany. The eastern part of Berlin was occupied by the Soviet Union and the western part was administered by the three other countries.
Berlin was divided into 4 parts
In 1948, the Russian government sought to merge the entire city of Berlin. Russia began a blockade of areas in Berlin (which was being controlled by Britain, France, and the United States) to force its Western allies to starve and leave the city. However, instead of withdrawing Berlin, the US and its allies provided food supplies from the air to their territories of the city. The effort became known as the "Berlin Airlift" and lasted more than a year, transporting more than 2.3 million tons of food, fuel and other goods to West Berlin. After unsuccessful efforts, in May 1949, the Soviet Union stopped the blockade.
In the same year, the entire territory of Germany occupied by Russia was established under a new name "German Democratic Republic" or East Germany, with the capital in the east of Berlin. In the remaining area occupied by Britain, France, and the United States, the Federal Republic of Germany was established and also known as West Germany, with Born as the capital. The western part of Berlin became a segregated enclave surrounded by the territory of East Germany.
Until 1961, East Germans could freely travel between East and West Berlin. Therefore, on August 12, 1961, the East German Government decided to close the border around the West Berlin area to prevent people from fleeing. It was called the Anti-Fascist Wall by East Germany to protect the East from being attacked by the West and prevent the evacuation from the East to the West.
Construction of the Berlin Wall
The very next day, on August 13, West Berlin was also surrounded by a barbed-wire fence, blocking traffic at this border. All other transport links connecting the two parts of the city are also closed. The houses on the east side of the border were relocated and the windows on the border were also covered with bricks. From here Germany was completely divided, on the same territory, there were 2 different regimes.
Over time, the barbed wire was replaced by a 3.6m high wall. Along the wall's east bank is the "death strip", an area guarded by guards and allowed to shoot fugitives. A total of 302 watchtowers and 20 bunkers were built along this 155 km long border.
During its 28-year existence, the Berlin Wall saw 192 people shot for trying to cross the border to the West. It can be said that the Berlin Wall is like the Hien Luong Bridge of Vietnam, where the country was divided into two halves and families were separated.
In May 1989, Russian President Gorbachev canceled the Brezhnev Doctrine, so Hungary opened its border with Austria, from where East Germans could enter West Berlin via Hungary. At the same time, the increasing number of people taking part in the street protests put a lot of pressure on the East German Government.
Eventually, on November 9, 1989, this ban on cross-border travel was repealed. After the ban was repealed, many people poured into the street to ask to pass. The guard soldiers were embarrassed by this situation because they had not received any instructions from the Government yet, but under great pressure from the people, they were forced to let them go.
The fall of the Berlin Wall
On October 3, 1990, East and West Germany officially united – almost a year after the fall of the Berlin Wall – to become the Federal Republic of Germany today. After 28 years, Germany was divided, but now it is independent, the whole country is united, again.
Today, the Berlin Wall, the symbol of the division of Germany, has been largely dismantled, but some parts still remain. The dismantled parts have been replaced by rows of double cobblestones. The most famous part of the wall that still stands is the 1316m-long East Gallery. In 1990, artists were invited to paint this piece and it became a large outdoor art gallery. It is located along the Mühlenstraße with 106 paintings.
The official Berlin Wall Memorial Site is at Bernauer Straße – where many people fled from East to West Berlin and where demolition of the wall began. Here, from the viewing area across the street, you can get a close look at the intact wall along with the guard area and the watchtowers.
The Berlin Wall Memorial Site
Today, Germany is independent, but memories of the separation still remain. The Berlin Wall, as a witness of a time when Germany was divided, was the boundary in the Cold War between the two factions of capitalism and Socialism at that time. If you have the opportunity to come to Germany, let's visit and explore this impressive Berlin Wall!
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