History of the Berlin Wall: Why it was built and when it fell

The Berlin Wall it has been a symbol of oppression for nearly three decades. Creating first a city and then a nation of divided citizens, the oppressive barrier of concrete, iron and barbed wire, with turrets and machine guns, it has become one tragic icon of the 21st century. And a wound that can still be seen today by going to visit the city of Berlin.

History of the Berlin Wall: the end of the war

The history of the Berlin Wall begins with the end of the Second World War and with the defeat of Germany. During the Yalta and Potsdam conferences the fate of devastated Germany was decided by the victors, which was de facto divided into four zones under the influence of other countries. The eastern part of theSoviet Union and the western part of the United States, Great Britain And France. Although Berlin was entirely located in the center of the eastern part of the country, the city suffered the same fate and was divided into areas and this increased the tension.

The history of the Wall in fact was born from the fact that West Berlin looked like a western enclave and capitalist in the heart of the communist eastern zone. And as the Soviet leader said Nikita Khrushchev it was “as annoying as a bone stuck in the Soviet throat”.

Relations became so strained that Russia attempted to definitively expel the USA, Great Britain and France from Berlin and in 1948 a Soviet blockade was organized which effectively closed all road and rail access to West Berlin. At first it was thought of force it with armored troops but the risk of war seemed too great. So the way of a was chosen US-operated airlift and by the Allies who supplied their own sectors of the city from the air. The airlift lasted 462 days and they were made further 270 thousand flights who brought more than 2320 tons of food and coal and machinery while children and the sick were evacuated.

After the airlift, people flee

Then calm returned. But the history of the Berlin Wall was now marked. In 1958 tensions rose again. The cause was the flow continuous of refugees that gives East they passed to west. And many of them were the best skilled and most useful workers for the country. Summits and conferences were held without success. While the exodus continued so much that in June 1961 around 19,000 people left the GDR through Berlin. The number continued to increase until to August 12, 1961, when about 2,400 defected to Berlin, the largest number of people to leave East Germany in a single day. That night, Soviet leader Khrushchev gave the government the East Germany the order to stop the flow definitively closing the city border.

People press. And finally the gates open

in one night, part of the Berlin Wall was erected, shocking the country but blocking the escapes. During the years over 150 people died trying to escape while more than 5000 managed to cross to the West. All ended abruptly three decades later: on November 9, 1989 the spokesman of the Communist Party of East Berlin she announced lifting of the travel ban from West Berlin to the West. When asked when the new rule would come into effect, he was surprised and declared: immediately.


It was like a wave suddenly released: thousands of East Berliners they started pressing on the wall yelling at the soldiers “Tor auf!” (Open the gate!). The confused and bewildered guardsmen cleared the roadblocks and the city was reunited. More than 2 million people from from the east and west they got together to celebrate the end of a nightmare and the largest street party in the history of the world was born spontaneously. There Germany found itself united again after 1945. And the history of the Wall of Berlin began to be written in the past tense.

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