Why Was the Berlin Wall Built? How and Why Was the Berlin Wall Fallen?

Why Was the Berlin Wall Built? How and Why Was the Berlin Wall Fallen?
Why Was the Berlin Wall Built? How and Why Was the Berlin Wall Fallen?

The Berlin Wall (German: Berliner Mauer) is the 13 km long wall that was started to be built in Berlin on 1961 August 46 by the decision of the East German parliament to prevent East German citizens from escaping to West Germany.

This concrete border, which was also known as the "wall of shame" (Schandmauer) in the West for years and blockaded West Berlin, was demolished on 9 November 1989, after East Germany announced that citizens could go to the West.


II. After losing the war at the end of World War II, Germany and its capital Berlin were divided into four as American, French, British and Soviet regions by the occupation forces. Soon, the Western alliance merged similar governing units and turned into a single governing division. The Soviet Union opposed this unification. Western occupation forces aimed to rebuild Germany against the Soviets and establish a post against communism. The Soviets also attempted to establish a new regime in East Germany against this attempt. The escapes from East Germany, whose economy was based on socialism and whose political administration was authoritarian, to the West were mostly from Berlin. The strict border between East and West Germany was already drawn in 1952. By using only the Berlin metro, 1955 thousand people fled to West Germany, which achieved great economic growth in the early 1950s until 270. In time, wire mesh and legislative changes could not prevent the escape to the West. Thereupon, the idea of ​​building a wall that prevented these escapes was put forward as a result of the then Socialist Unity Party (SED) leader Walter Ulbricht's consultation with the Soviet leaders and their approval that something should be done. As a matter of fact, since the Soviet Union sees West Berlin as a hotbed of mischief, a stronghold of capitalism, and a center of counter-propaganda within the borders of East Germany, it adopted building the Berlin Wall as a solution.

The wall was built overnight on 12-13 August 1961 by the decision of the East German parliament to surround the US-led capitalist West Berlin inside East Germany. His plans were carried out in complete secrecy. So much so that "Niemand hat die die Absicht, eine Mauer zu errichten" (nobody's intention to build a wall) in the answer of SED general secretary Walter Ulbricht on June 15, 1961, to the question of West Berlin reporter Annamarie Doherr at a conference in East Berlin. none) is clear evidence of this. When the first form of the wall did not prevent the passages, the elevated minefields were completely blocked by the dog soldiers watchtowers.

In 1961, only a simple wire fence was installed to replace the Berlin Wall. Later, the Berlin Wall, also known as the "Wall of Shame" in the capitalist west, was built instead of this braid, and this wire mesh was re-placed on the wall. This wall between East and West Berlin actually consisted of two pieces of steel, one 3,5 meters and the other 4,5 meters. The wall facing east was painted white to make it easy to see people who might attempt to escape. In contrast, the side facing West Germany was graffiti and full of drawings. In the eastern part of the wall were steel traps and minefields on the ground, 186 high watchtowers and hundreds of lamps were placed. On the east side, motorcycle and pedestrian police and dogs were also under control. There were 25 highway, railway and waterway border gates along the wall. Despite all these checks and surveillance, about 5 people managed to flee from the East to the West through tunnels, home-made balloons, and so on.

One of the biggest dramas in escapes from East to West along with the wall took place in Bernauer Strasse. As a matter of fact, although the houses on this street were located in the East, their front facades were in the West. At first, there were escapes that risked injury and mutilation from the windows, and later the windows of the houses were bricked to prevent this. After a short while, these houses were completely demolished and walls were built in their places. Ida Siekmann, known as the first person to die while trying to escape from the East to the West, died here on August 22, 1961. Today, this part of the old Berlin wall contains some remnants of the wall and a museum on the subject.

On August 24, 1961, 24-year-old Günter Litfin was fatally prevented from escaping over the Spree with his gun power for the first time. The last person to die from the bullets of the border guards was Chris Gueffroy, who tried to escape on February 9, 6, 1989 months before the wall collapsed. Although the number of people who died trying to cross the Berlin wall is still unknown, it is estimated that there were at least 86 and at most 238. Along the wall, it is possible to find many small monuments that remind of those who lost their lives.

The reasons for its collapse

Until its last period, the East German government has shown this wall as a shield protecting the socialist East against the capitalist West. In early 1989, the Government of the German Democratic Republic allowed East German citizens who wanted to cross to other Eastern Bloc countries within the Soviet Union. With this permit, thousands of East German citizens flocked to the capitals of countries such as Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and the Yugoslav SFC.

The East German government had approved the removal of the wall. A press conference was held on 9 November 1989 to make this decision public. From the moment the decision was announced, hundreds of thousands of people began to accumulate on either side of the wall. Towards midnight, the government first lifted the barricades and crossing measures, starting at the Brandenburg Gate. People approaching from both Germany's side met on the wall. The flood of man reached hundreds of thousands in one hour. Demolition of the wall was officially started on 13 June 1990 by 300 East German border soldiers on Bernauer Straße, which was also mentioned here. The German Democratic Republic could not stand much after the destruction of the wall, and it officially ended on October 13, 1990. The part of the wall that passed through the city was almost completely destroyed by November of the same year. Indeed, for decades, the Berliners wanted to clear the scars of division as soon as possible.

Physical remains of the wall 

Today, although the wall is socially noticeable in places, it is hardly perceived physically. The places where the wall once passed through the middle of the city have now been rebuilt, replaced by buildings, squares and streets, other places are generally re-used roads or greened parks. Some sections of the wall were left in place for monumental purposes:

  • Bernauer Straße / Ackerstraße
  • Bernauer Straße / Gartenstraße
  • Bosebrücke, Bornholmer Straße
  • The Checkpoint Charlie border crossing gate, the US sector checkhouse here is not original, the original is in the Allies Museum.
  • Friedrichstraße / Zimmerstraße
  • Schützenstrasse
  • The East Side Gallery lies between Ostbahnhof and Warschauer Platz along the river Spree.
  • Invalidenfriedhof, Scharnhorststrasse 25
  • Mauerpark, Eberswalder Straße / Schwedter Straße
  • Niederkirchner Straße / Wilhelmstraße
  • Parlament der Bäume, Konrad-Adenauer-Straße, the wall remains here were brought from different parts of Berlin. Only the road through here was indeed located between the inner and outer wall.
  • Potsdamer Platz
  • Leipziger Platz (in the northern half)
  • Stresemannstraße
  • Erna-Berger-Straße
  • Schwartzkopffstraße / Pflugstraße, in the backyard of the houses.
  • St.-Hedwigs-Friedhof / Liesenstraße

Some of the remains mentioned above will continue to be removed from their places in the upcoming period. The places where the inner and mostly outer wall passes are marked with special stones on asphalt or grass in general, and occasionally with bronze plaques with the inscription "Berliner Mauer 1961-1989" on the ground. Specially erected signs also contain information about the wall. Many museums along the old wall line contain important documents, photographs and similar resources about the wall. Gray-white "Mauerweg" signs that can be found on street corners also indicate that the wall once passed through here.

Some block pieces of the 43-kilometer wall are in a warehouse in the state of Brandenburg, but some of the wall remains have been sold to various countries, especially the USA, and are exhibited in different purpose venues in those countries.

In front of the Museum of Terror in Budapest, in the men's room of the Main Street Station hotel in Las Vegas, in front of the European Parliament building in Brussels, at the World Trade Center in Montréal, on 53rd avenue in New York, in the Vatican garden, Strasbourg ' Fragments of the wall can be found in front of the European Court of Human Rights building. Since 24 May 2009 a monument called 'Balanceakt' has been located in front of the headquarters of the Axel Springer Verlag publishing house in Berlin. This monument symbolizing the collapse of the wall also includes some of the remnants of the wall.

In addition, wall parts are made into a blanket as a souvenir and put up for sale. Apart from that, only five of the 302 watchtowers that were once located along the wall still stand for monumental purposes:

  • Between Treptow and Kreuzberg districts, at the end of Puschkinallee, in the border area that is now parked.
  • It is in the intermediate zone between the Federal Military Hospital's visitor car park and the canal on Kieler Straße. Dedicated to Günter Litfin.
  • In Erna-Berger-Straße in the immediate vicinity of Potsdamer Platz. It has been shifted a few meters from its original location as it prevents traffic.
  • In the district of Henningsdorf, the northern extension of Havel is on the east shore of lake Nieder Neuendorf. There is a permanent exhibition here on the border facilities between the two Germany.
  • On the city border in Hohen Neuendorf, a suburb in the north of Berlin, in the re-greened park area of ​​the German environmentalist youth club.

Movies about the Berlin Wall 

  • 'Der Himmel Über Berlin' (Sky Over Berlin), (1987)
  • 'Der Tunnel' (Tunnel), (2001)
  • 'Good Bye Lenin!' (Goodbye Lenin), (2003)
  • 'Das Leben der Anderen' (The Life of Others), (2006)
  • 'Die Frau vom Checkpoint Charlie' (The Woman in Checkpoint Charlie), (2007)
  • 'Das Wunder von' (Berlin Miracle), (2008)
  • 'Bridge of Spies', (2015)

Also, the 1985 film Gotcha! (USA), 1988 Polizei (Turkey / b.almany), and in 2009 the construction of Hilda (Germany) is located in the Berlin Wall displays original films.

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