Berlin Wall

Berliner Mauer
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The Berlin Wall, which separated the city in an eastern and western part, was the symbol of the Cold War. Built by the goverment of the DDR to prevent East Germans from escaping to the West, most of the Berlin Wall has been demolished since the border between East and West Berlin opened in 1989.

Berlin after the war

Mauer
Berlin Wall Memorial plaque
After the Second World War, defeated Germany was divided up into four parts: an American, British, French and Soviet occupation zone. Berlin was also divided into four sectors.

In 1948, the Soviet authorities tried to annex the whole city and started a blockade of the US, British and French sectors. The plans failed due to the Berlin Airlift which carried supplies to the Western sectors, and in May 1949 the blockade was lifted. That same year, the Soviet part of Germany became the German Democratic Republic (GDR) with East Berlin as its capital. The other zones became the Federal Republic of Germany with the capital Bonn. The western part of Berlin became a separate enclave surrounded by East Germany.

A 'Protection Barrier'

Until 1961, East Germans could move freely between the Western and Eastern parts of Berlin. But many East Berliner were attracted by the more prosperous West, and by 1961 up to 20,000 East Germans a month flocked to West Berlin.

East Side Gallery
Berlin Wall
On August 12, 1961 the East German authorities decided to close the border around the Western sectors of Berlin in order to prevent people from fleeing. Officially, it was an antifascist protection barrier to defend the East against Western aggression.

The next day, early morning August 13, West Berlin was surrounded by barbed wire. Traffic at the border was halted and the underground and S-bahn connecting the different sides of the city were put out of operation. Houses at the eastern side of the border were evacuated and the windows on the border side were bricked up.

Over time, the barbed wire was replaced by a 3.6m high wall. Along the Wall's east side ran a 'death zone',
Berlin Wall
Trabant breaking through the Wall
an area controlled by guards. A total of 302 watchtowers and 20 bunkers were built along the 155km long border. The guards were given the order to shoot at escapees. As a result 192 people were killed in an attempt to cross the border to the West.

Fall of the Wall

After Soviet President Gorbatchev visited West Germany in 1989, Hungary opened its border with Austria. This allowed East Germans to flock to the West. Meanwhile, street protests drawing more and more people put pressure on the GDR government.
Berlin Wall
Memorial Berlin Wall
Finally on November 9, 1989, travel restrictions were lifted. Shortly after, border gates opened and people flooded into West Berlin.

Remnants of the Wall

Most of the wall has been dismantled since, but some parts still stand. The most famous one is the 1316m long East Side Gallery. It is located along Mühlenstraße between Warschauer Straße and the Ostbahnhof and contains 106 paintings.

The official Berlin Wall Memorial Site can be found at Bernauer Straße - the site of many escapes from East to West Berlin and also the place where the official destruction of the Wall started. Here you can overlook an intact section of the wall, complete with security zone and watchtower from an observation deck opposite the street.

Other, smaller sections can be found around Potsdamer Platz, the Reichstag, Invaliedenfriedhof, Bornholmer Straße, Nieder-kirchner Straße and Zimmerstraße near Checkpoint Charlie.

Subway
Warschauer Strasse (U1, S5, S7, S75)
Location
Mühlenstrasse
215
berlin
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