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.
the second world war, defeated Germany was divided up
into 4 parts: an American, British, French and Soviet
occupation zone. Berlin was also divided into 4 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
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.
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',
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.
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.
Memorial Berlin Wall
Finally on November 9, 1989, travel
restrictions were lifted. Shortly after, border gates
opened and people flooded into West Berlin.
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