Berlin Wall
Overview
The Berlin Wall was a barrier constructed by the German Democratic Republic (GDR, East Germany) starting on 13 August 1961, that completely cut off West Berlin
West Berlin
West Berlin was a political exclave that existed between 1949 and 1990. It comprised the western regions of Berlin, which were bordered by East Berlin and parts of East Germany. West Berlin consisted of the American, British, and French occupation sectors, which had been established in 1945...

 from surrounding East Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 and from East Berlin
East Berlin
East Berlin was the name given to the eastern part of Berlin between 1949 and 1990. It consisted of the Soviet sector of Berlin that was established in 1945. The American, British and French sectors became West Berlin, a part strongly associated with West Germany but a free city...

. The barrier included guard towers placed along large concrete walls, which circumscribed a wide area (later known as the "death strip") that contained anti-vehicle trenches, "fakir beds
Bed of nails
A bed of nails is an oblong piece of wood the size of a bed with nails pointing upwards out of it. It appears to the spectator that anyone lying on this "bed" would be injured by the nails, but this is not so...

" and other defenses.
Encyclopedia
The Berlin Wall was a barrier constructed by the German Democratic Republic (GDR, East Germany) starting on 13 August 1961, that completely cut off West Berlin
West Berlin
West Berlin was a political exclave that existed between 1949 and 1990. It comprised the western regions of Berlin, which were bordered by East Berlin and parts of East Germany. West Berlin consisted of the American, British, and French occupation sectors, which had been established in 1945...

 from surrounding East Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 and from East Berlin
East Berlin
East Berlin was the name given to the eastern part of Berlin between 1949 and 1990. It consisted of the Soviet sector of Berlin that was established in 1945. The American, British and French sectors became West Berlin, a part strongly associated with West Germany but a free city...

. The barrier included guard towers placed along large concrete walls, which circumscribed a wide area (later known as the "death strip") that contained anti-vehicle trenches, "fakir beds
Bed of nails
A bed of nails is an oblong piece of wood the size of a bed with nails pointing upwards out of it. It appears to the spectator that anyone lying on this "bed" would be injured by the nails, but this is not so...

" and other defenses. The Eastern Bloc
Eastern bloc
The term Eastern Bloc or Communist Bloc refers to the former communist states of Eastern and Central Europe, generally the Soviet Union and the countries of the Warsaw Pact...

 claimed that the wall was erected to protect its population from fascist elements conspiring to prevent the "will of the people" in building a socialist state
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

 in East Germany. In practice, the Wall served to prevent the massive emigration and defection
Eastern Bloc emigration and defection
Eastern Bloc emigration and defection was a point of controversy during the Cold War. After World War II, emigration restrictions were imposed by countries in the Eastern Bloc, which consisted of the Soviet Union and its satellite states in Eastern and Central Europe...

 that marked Germany and the communist Eastern Bloc during the post-World War II period.

The Berlin Wall was officially referred to as the "Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart" by GDR authorities, implying that neighbouring West Germany
West Germany
West Germany is the common English, but not official, name for the Federal Republic of Germany or FRG in the period between its creation in May 1949 to German reunification on 3 October 1990....

 had not been fully de-Nazified. The West Berlin city government sometimes referred to it as the "Wall of Shame
Wall of Shame
"Wall of Shame" is originally a term used by western politicians and media to refer to the Berlin Wall, and more generally a negative term for a separation barrier that, in the opinion of those using the term, brings shame upon the builders or others. In some cases, it is the circumstances of the...

"—a term coined by mayor Willy Brandt
Willy Brandt
Willy Brandt, born Herbert Ernst Karl Frahm , was a German politician, Mayor of West Berlin 1957–1966, Chancellor of West Germany 1969–1974, and leader of the Social Democratic Party of Germany 1964–1987....

—while condemning the Wall's restriction on freedom of movement
Freedom of movement
Freedom of movement, mobility rights or the right to travel is a human right concept that the constitutions of numerous states respect...

. Along with the separate and much longer Inner German border (IGB) that demarcated the border between East and West Germany
West Germany
West Germany is the common English, but not official, name for the Federal Republic of Germany or FRG in the period between its creation in May 1949 to German reunification on 3 October 1990....

, both borders came to symbolize the "Iron Curtain
Iron Curtain
The concept of the Iron Curtain symbolized the ideological fighting and physical boundary dividing Europe into two separate areas from the end of World War II in 1945 until the end of the Cold War in 1989...

" that separated Western Europe and the Eastern Bloc
Eastern bloc
The term Eastern Bloc or Communist Bloc refers to the former communist states of Eastern and Central Europe, generally the Soviet Union and the countries of the Warsaw Pact...

 during the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

.

Before the Wall's erection, 3.5 million East Germans circumvented Eastern Bloc emigration restrictions
Eastern Bloc emigration and defection
Eastern Bloc emigration and defection was a point of controversy during the Cold War. After World War II, emigration restrictions were imposed by countries in the Eastern Bloc, which consisted of the Soviet Union and its satellite states in Eastern and Central Europe...

 and defected from the GDR, many by crossing over the border from East Berlin into West Berlin, from where they could then travel to West Germany and other Western European countries. Between 1961 and 1989, the wall prevented almost all such emigration. During this period, around 5,000 people attempted to escape over the wall, with estimates of the resulting death toll varying between 100 and 200.

In 1989, a radical series of political changes
Revolutions of 1989
The Revolutions of 1989 were the revolutions which overthrew the communist regimes in various Central and Eastern European countries.The events began in Poland in 1989, and continued in Hungary, East Germany, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and...

 occurred in the Eastern Bloc
Eastern bloc
The term Eastern Bloc or Communist Bloc refers to the former communist states of Eastern and Central Europe, generally the Soviet Union and the countries of the Warsaw Pact...

, associated with the liberalization
Glasnost
Glasnost was the policy of maximal publicity, openness, and transparency in the activities of all government institutions in the Soviet Union, together with freedom of information, introduced by Mikhail Gorbachev in the second half of the 1980s...

 of the Eastern Bloc's authoritarian systems and the erosion of political power in the pro-Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 governments in nearby Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 and Hungary
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

. After several weeks of civil unrest, the East German government announced on 9 November 1989 that all GDR citizens could visit West Germany and West Berlin. Crowds of East Germans crossed and climbed onto the wall, joined by West Germans on the other side in a celebratory atmosphere. Over the next few weeks, a euphoric public and souvenir hunters chipped away parts of the wall; the governments later used industrial equipment to remove most of the rest. The fall of the Berlin Wall paved the way for German reunification
German reunification
German reunification was the process in 1990 in which the German Democratic Republic joined the Federal Republic of Germany , and when Berlin reunited into a single city, as provided by its then Grundgesetz constitution Article 23. The start of this process is commonly referred by Germans as die...

, which was formally concluded on 3 October 1990.

Post-war Germany

After the end of World War II in Europe
End of World War II in Europe
The final battles of the European Theatre of World War II as well as the German surrender to the Western Allies and the Soviet Union took place in late April and early May 1945.-Timeline of surrenders and deaths:...

, what remained of pre-war Germany west of the Oder-Neisse line
Oder-Neisse line
The Oder–Neisse line is the border between Germany and Poland which was drawn in the aftermath of World War II. The line is formed primarily by the Oder and Lusatian Neisse rivers, and meets the Baltic Sea west of the seaport cities of Szczecin and Świnoujście...

 was divided into four occupation zones (per the Potsdam Agreement
Potsdam Agreement
The Potsdam Agreement was the Allied plan of tripartite military occupation and reconstruction of Germany—referring to the German Reich with its pre-war 1937 borders including the former eastern territories—and the entire European Theatre of War territory...

), each one controlled by one of the four occupying Allied powers
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

: the United States, the United Kingdom, France and the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

. The capital of Berlin, as the seat of the Allied Control Council
Allied Control Council
The Allied Control Council or Allied Control Authority, known in the German language as the Alliierter Kontrollrat and also referred to as the Four Powers , was a military occupation governing body of the Allied Occupation Zones in Germany after the end of World War II in Europe...

, was similarly subdivided into four sectors despite the city's location fully within the Soviet zone.

Within two years, political divisions increased between the Soviets and the other occupying powers. These included the Soviets' refusal to agree to reconstruction plans making post-war Germany self-sufficient and to a detailed accounting of the industrial plants, goods and infrastructure already removed by the Soviets. Britain, France, the United States and the Benelux
Benelux
The Benelux is an economic union in Western Europe comprising three neighbouring countries, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. These countries are located in northwestern Europe between France and Germany...

 countries later met to combine the non-Soviet zones of the country into one zone for reconstruction and approve the extension of the Marshall Plan
Marshall Plan
The Marshall Plan was the large-scale American program to aid Europe where the United States gave monetary support to help rebuild European economies after the end of World War II in order to combat the spread of Soviet communism. The plan was in operation for four years beginning in April 1948...

.

The Eastern Bloc and the Berlin airlift

Following World War II, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

 headed a union of nations on his Western border, the Eastern Bloc, that then included Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia, which he wished to maintain alongside a weakened Soviet-controlled Germany. As early as 1945, Stalin revealed to German communist leaders that he expected to slowly undermine the British position within the British occupation zone, that the United States would withdraw within a year or two, and that nothing then would stand in the way of a united communist Germany within the bloc.

The major task of the ruling communist party in the Soviet zone was to channel Soviet orders down to both the administrative apparatus and the other bloc parties, which in turn would be presented as internal measures. Property and industry was nationalized in the East German zone. If statements or decisions deviated from the described line, reprimands and, for persons outside public attention, punishment would ensue, such as imprisonment, torture and even death.

Indoctrination of Marxism-Leninism
Marxism-Leninism
Marxism–Leninism is a communist ideology, officially based upon the theories of Marxism and Vladimir Lenin, that promotes the development and creation of a international communist society through the leadership of a vanguard party over a revolutionary socialist state that represents a dictatorship...

 became a compulsory part of school curricula, sending professors and students fleeing to the West. The East Germans created an elaborate political police apparatus that kept the population under close surveillance, including Soviet SMERSH
SMERSH
SMERSH was the counter-intelligence agency in the Red Army formed in late 1942 or even earlier, but officially founded on April 14, 1943. The name SMERSH was coined by Joseph Stalin...

 secret police.

In 1948, following disagreements regarding reconstruction and a new German currency, Stalin instituted the Berlin Blockade
Berlin Blockade
The Berlin Blockade was one of the first major international crises of the Cold War and the first resulting in casualties. During the multinational occupation of post-World War II Germany, the Soviet Union blocked the Western Allies' railway and road access to the sectors of Berlin under Allied...

, preventing food, materials and supplies from arriving in West Berlin
West Berlin
West Berlin was a political exclave that existed between 1949 and 1990. It comprised the western regions of Berlin, which were bordered by East Berlin and parts of East Germany. West Berlin consisted of the American, British, and French occupation sectors, which had been established in 1945...

. The United States, Britain, France, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and several other countries began a massive "Berlin airlift", supplying West Berlin with food and other supplies. The Soviets mounted a public relations campaign against the western policy change. Communists attempted to disrupt the elections of 1948, preceding large losses therein, while 300,000 Berliners demonstrated for the international airlift to continue. In May 1949, Stalin lifted the blockade, permitting the resumption of Western shipments to Berlin.

The German Democratic Republic (East Germany) was declared on 7 October 1949. By a secret treaty, the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs accorded the East German state administrative authority, but not autonomy. The Soviets penetrated East German administrative, military and secret police structures and had full control.

East Germany differed from West Germany (Federal Republic of Germany
West Germany
West Germany is the common English, but not official, name for the Federal Republic of Germany or FRG in the period between its creation in May 1949 to German reunification on 3 October 1990....

), which developed into a Western capitalist country with a social market economy
Social market economy
The social market economy is the main economic model used in West Germany after World War II. It is based on the economic philosophy of Ordoliberalism from the Freiburg School...

 ( in German) and a democratic
Democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

 parliamentary government. Continual economic growth starting in the 1950s fuelled a 20-year "economic miracle
Wirtschaftswunder
The term describes the rapid reconstruction and development of the economies of West Germany and Austria after World War II . The expression was used by The Times in 1950...

" (). As West Germany's economy grew and its standard of living steadily improved, many East Germans wanted to move to West Germany.

Emigration westward in the early 1950s

After Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe at the end of World War II, the majority of those living in the newly acquired areas of the Eastern Bloc
Eastern bloc
The term Eastern Bloc or Communist Bloc refers to the former communist states of Eastern and Central Europe, generally the Soviet Union and the countries of the Warsaw Pact...

 aspired to independence and wanted the Soviets to leave. Taking advantage of the zonal border between occupied zones in Germany, the number of GDR citizens moving to West Germany totaled 187,000 in 1950; 165,000 in 1951; 182,000 in 1952; and 331,000 in 1953. One reason for the sharp 1953 increase was fear of potential further Sovietization
Sovietization
Sovietization is term that may be used with two distinct meanings:*the adoption of a political system based on the model of soviets .*the adoption of a way of life and mentality modelled after the Soviet Union....

, given the increasingly paranoid actions of Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

 in late 1952 and early 1953. 226,000 had fled in just the first six months of 1953.

Erection of the inner German border

By the early 1950s, the Soviet approach to controlling national movement, restricting emigration, was emulated by most of the rest of the Eastern Bloc
Eastern bloc
The term Eastern Bloc or Communist Bloc refers to the former communist states of Eastern and Central Europe, generally the Soviet Union and the countries of the Warsaw Pact...

, including East Germany. The restrictions presented a quandary for some Eastern Bloc states that had been more economically advanced and open than the Soviet Union, such that crossing borders seemed more natural—especially where no prior border existed between East and West Germany.

Up until 1952, the lines between East Germany and the western occupied zones could be easily crossed in most places. On 1 April 1952, East German leaders met the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

 in Moscow; during the discussions Stalin's foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov
Vyacheslav Molotov
Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov was a Soviet politician and diplomat, an Old Bolshevik and a leading figure in the Soviet government from the 1920s, when he rose to power as a protégé of Joseph Stalin, to 1957, when he was dismissed from the Presidium of the Central Committee by Nikita Khrushchev...

 proposed that the East Germans should "introduce a system of passes for visits of West Berlin residents to the territory of East Berlin [so as to stop] free movement of Western agents" in the GDR. Stalin agreed, calling the situation "intolerable". He advised the East Germans to build up their border defenses, telling them that "The demarcation line between East and West Germany should be considered a border—and not just any border, but a dangerous one ... The Germans will guard the line of defence with their lives."

Consequently, the inner German border between the two German states was closed, and a barbed-wire fence erected. The border between the Western and Eastern sectors of Berlin, however, remained open, although traffic between the Soviet and the Western sectors was somewhat restricted. This resulted in Berlin becoming a magnet for East Germans desperate to escape life in the GDR, and also a flashpoint for tension between the United States and the Soviet Union.

In 1955, the Soviets gave East Germany authority over civilian movement in Berlin, passing control to a regime not recognized in the West. Initially, East Germany granted "visits" to allow its residents access to West Germany. However, following the defection of large numbers of East Germans under this regime, the new East German state legally restricted virtually all travel to the West in 1956. Soviet East German ambassador Mikhail Pervukhin
Mikhail Pervukhin
Mikhail Gyeorgievich Pervukhin was a Soviet official during the Stalin Era, Khrushchev Era and the early Brezhnev Era. He served as a First Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers, literally First Vice-Premier of the Soviet Union, from 1955 to 1957....

 observed that "the presence in Berlin of an open and essentially uncontrolled border between the socialist and capitalist worlds unwittingly prompts the population to make a comparison between both parts of the city, which unfortunately, does not always turn out in favor of the Democratic [East] Berlin."

The Berlin emigration loophole

With the closing of the inner German border officially in 1952, the border in Berlin remained considerably more accessible then because it was administered by all four occupying powers. Accordingly, Berlin became the main route by which East Germans left for the West. On 11 December 1957, East Germany introduced a new passport law that reduced the overall number of refugees leaving Eastern Germany.

It had the unintended result of drastically increasing the percentage of those leaving through West Berlin from 60% to well over 90% by the end of 1958. Those caught trying to leave East Berlin were subjected to heavy penalties, but with no physical barrier and subway
Berlin U-Bahn
The Berlin is a rapid transit railway in Berlin, the capital city of Germany, and is a major part of the public transport system of that city. Opened in 1902, the serves 173 stations spread across ten lines, with a total track length of , about 80% of which is underground...

 train access still available to West Berlin, such measures were ineffective. The Berlin sector border was essentially a "loophole
Loophole
A loophole is a weakness that allows a system to be circumvented.Loophole may also refer to:*Arrowslit, a slit in a castle wall*Loophole , a short science fiction story by Arthur C...

" through which Eastern Bloc citizens could still escape. The 3.5 million East Germans who had left by 1961 totalled approximately 20% of the entire East German population.

Brain drain

The emigrants tended to be young and well-educated, leading to the "brain drain" feared by officials in East Germany. Yuri Andropov
Yuri Andropov
Yuri Vladimirovich Andropov was a Soviet politician and the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 12 November 1982 until his death fifteen months later.-Early life:...

, then the CPSU
Communist Party of the Soviet Union
The Communist Party of the Soviet Union was the only legal, ruling political party in the Soviet Union and one of the largest communist organizations in the world...

 Director on Relations with Communist and Workers Parties of Socialist Countries, wrote an urgent letter on 28 August 1958, to the Central Committee about the significant 50% increase in the number of East German intelligentsia among the refugees. Andropov reported that, while the East German leadership stated that they were leaving for economic reasons, testimony from refugees indicated that the reasons were more political than material. He stated "the flight of the intelligentsia has reached a particularly critical phase."

By 1960, the combination of World War II and the massive emigration westward left East Germany with only 61% of its population of working age, compared to 70.5% before the war. The loss was disproportionately heavy among professionals: engineers, technicians, physicians, teachers, lawyers and skilled workers. The direct cost of manpower losses to East Germany (and corresponding gain to the West) has been estimated at $7 billion to $9 billion, with East German party leader Walter Ulbricht
Walter Ulbricht
Walter Ulbricht was a German communist politician. As First Secretary of the Socialist Unity Party from 1950 to 1971 , he played a leading role in the creation of the Weimar-era Communist Party of Germany and later in the early development and...

 later claiming that West Germany owed him $17 billion in compensation, including reparations as well as manpower losses. In addition, the drain of East Germany's young population potentially cost it over 22.5 billion marks in lost educational investment. The brain drain of professionals had become so damaging to the political credibility and economic viability of East Germany that the re-securing of the German communist frontier was imperative.

Construction begins, 1961

On 15 June 1961, First Secretary of the Socialist Unity Party
Socialist Unity Party of Germany
The Socialist Unity Party of Germany was the governing party of the German Democratic Republic from its formation on 7 October 1949 until the elections of March 1990. The SED was a communist political party with a Marxist-Leninist ideology...

 and GDR State Council
Staatsrat
In the German Democratic Republic , the State Council was the collective head of state from 1960 to 1990.-Origins:...

 chairman Walter Ulbricht
Walter Ulbricht
Walter Ulbricht was a German communist politician. As First Secretary of the Socialist Unity Party from 1950 to 1971 , he played a leading role in the creation of the Weimar-era Communist Party of Germany and later in the early development and...

 stated in an international press conference, (No one has the intention of erecting a wall!). It was the first time the colloquial term (wall) had been used in this context.

The record of a telephone call between Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev led the Soviet Union during part of the Cold War. He served as First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964, and as Chairman of the Council of Ministers, or Premier, from 1958 to 1964...

 and Ulbricht on 1 August in the same year, suggests that it was Khrushchev from whom the initiative for the construction of the wall came. However, other sources suggest that Khrushchev had initially been wary about building a wall, fearing negative Western reaction. What is beyond dispute, though, is that Ulbricht had pushed for a border closure for quite some time, arguing that East Germany's very existence was at stake. Khrushchev had been emboldened by US President John F. Kennedy’s tacit indication that the US would not actively oppose this action in the Soviet sector of Berlin. On Saturday, 12 August 1961, the leaders of the GDR attended a garden party at a government guesthouse in , in a wooded area to the north of East Berlin. There signed the order to close the border and erect a wall.

At midnight, the police and units of the East German army began to close the border and, by Sunday morning, 13 August, the border with West Berlin was closed. East German troops and workers had begun to tear up streets running alongside the border to make them impassable to most vehicles and to install barbed wire entanglements and fences along the 156 kilometres (96.9 mi) around the three western sectors, and the 43 kilometres (26.7 mi) that divided West and East Berlin.

The barrier was built slightly inside East Berlin or East German territory to ensure that it did not encroach on West Berlin at any point. Later, it was built up into the Wall proper, the first concrete elements and large blocks being put in place on 17 August. During the construction of the Wall, National People's Army
National People's Army
The National People’s Army were the armed forces of the German Democratic Republic .The NVA was established in 1956 and disestablished in 1990. There were frequent reports of East German advisors with Communist African countries during the Cold War...

 (NVA) and Combat Groups of the Working Class
Combat Groups of the Working Class
The Combat Groups of the Working Class was a paramilitary organization in East Germany, founded in 1953 and abolished in 1990. It numbered about 400,000 volunteers for much of its existence.-History:...

 (KdA) soldiers stood in front of it with orders to shoot anyone who attempted to defect. Additionally, chain fences, walls, minefields and other obstacles were installed along the length of East Germany's western border with West Germany proper. A huge no man's land was cleared to provide a clear line of fire at fleeing refugees.

Immediate effects

With the closing of the East-West sector boundary in Berlin, the vast majority of East Germans could no longer travel or emigrate to West Germany. Many families were split, while East Berliners employed in the West were cut off from their jobs. West Berlin became an isolated exclave in a hostile land. West Berliners demonstrated against the wall, led by their Mayor Willy Brandt, who strongly criticized the United States for failing to respond. Allied intelligence agencies had hypothesized about a wall to stop the flood of refugees, but the main candidate for its location was around the perimeter of the city. In 1961, Secretary of State Dean Rusk proclaimed, "The Wall certainly ought not to be a permanent feature of the European landscape. I see no reason why the Soviet Union should think it is—it is to their advantage in any way to leave there that monument to Communist failure."

In a speech on 26 July 1963, US President John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

 had acknowledged that the United States could only hope to defend West Berliners and West Germans; to attempt to stand up for East Germans would result only in an embarrassing downfall. Accordingly, the administration made polite protests at length via the usual channels, but without fervour. The Wall violated postwar Potsdam Agreements, which gave the United Kingdom, France and the United States a say over the administration of the whole of Berlin. A few months after the barbed wire was erected, the U.S. government informed the Soviet government that it accepted the Wall as "a fact of international life" and would not challenge it by force.

US and UK sources had expected the Soviet sector to be sealed off from West Berlin, but were surprised by how long the East Germans took for such a move. They considered the wall as an end to concerns about a GDR/Soviet retaking or capture of the whole of Berlin; the wall would presumably have been an unnecessary project if such plans were afloat. Thus they concluded that the possibility of a Soviet military conflict over Berlin decreased.

The East German government claimed that the Wall was an "anti-fascist protective rampart" intended to dissuade aggression from the West. Another official justification was the activities of western agents in Eastern Europe. The Eastern German government also claimed that West Berliners were buying out state-subsidized goods in East Berlin. East Germans and others greeted such statements with skepticism, as most of the time, the border was only closed for citizens of East Germany traveling to the West, but not for residents of West Berlin travelling to the East. The construction of the Wall had caused considerable hardship to families divided by it. Most people believed that the Wall was mainly a means of preventing the citizens of East Germany from entering or fleeing to West Berlin.

An East German SED
Socialist Unity Party of Germany
The Socialist Unity Party of Germany was the governing party of the German Democratic Republic from its formation on 7 October 1949 until the elections of March 1990. The SED was a communist political party with a Marxist-Leninist ideology...

 propaganda booklet published in 1955 dramatically described the serious nature of 'flight from the republic'
Republikflucht
"Republikflucht" and "Republikflüchtling" were the terms used by authorities in the German Democratic Republic to describe the process of and the person leaving the GDR for a life in West Germany or any other Western country .The term...

:

Secondary response

Kennedy appointed retired General Lucius D. Clay
Lucius D. Clay
General Lucius Dubignon Clay was an American officer and military governor of the United States Army known for his administration of Germany immediately after World War II. Clay was deputy to General Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1945; deputy military governor, Germany 1946; commander in chief, U.S....

, who had been the Military Governor of the US Zone of Occupation in Germany during the period of the Berlin Blockade and had ordered the first measures in what became the Berlin Airlift, as his special advisor, sending him to Berlin with ambassadorial rank. Clay was immensely popular with the residents of West Berlin, and his appointment was an unambiguous sign that Kennedy would not compromise on the status of West Berlin. Clay and Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon Baines Johnson , often referred to as LBJ, was the 36th President of the United States after his service as the 37th Vice President of the United States...

 arrived at Tempelhof Airport
Tempelhof International Airport
Berlin Tempelhof Airport was an airport in Berlin, Germany, situated in the south-central borough of Tempelhof-Schöneberg. The airport ceased operating in 2008 in the process of establishing Schönefeld as the sole commercial airport for Berlin....

 on the afternoon of Saturday, 19 August 1961.

They arrived in a city defended by three Allied brigades
Berlin Brigade
After the end of World War II, under the conditions of the Yalta and Potsdam agreements, Allied forces occupied West Berlin. This occupation lasted throughout the Cold War...

—one each from the UK, the US, and France (the Forces Françaises à Berlin
Forces Françaises à Berlin
Forces Françaises à Berlin or Forces Françaises de Berlin was the name for the units of the French Forces stationed in Cold War-era West Berlin according to the agreements of the Yalta Conference and Potsdam Conference....

). On 16 August, Kennedy had given the order for them to be reinforced. Early on 19 August, the 1st Battle Group, 18th Infantry (commanded by Colonel Glover S. Johns Jr.) was alerted.

On Sunday morning, U.S. troops marched from West Germany through East Germany, bound for West Berlin. Lead elements—arranged in a column of 491 vehicles and trailers carrying 1,500 men, divided into five march units—left the Helmstedt-Marienborn checkpoint at 06:34. At Marienborn
Marienborn
Marienborn is a village and a former municipality in the Börde district in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. Since 1 January 2010, it has been part of the municipality of Sommersdorf. It is about southwest of Haldensleben...

, the Soviet checkpoint next to Helmstedt
Helmstedt
Helmstedt is a city located at the eastern edge of the German state of Lower Saxony. It is the capital of the District of Helmstedt. Helmstedt has 26,000 inhabitants . In former times the city was also called Helmstädt....

 on the West German/East German border, US personnel were counted by guards. The column was 160 kilometres (99.4 mi) long, and covered 177 kilometres (110 mi) from Marienborn to Berlin in full battle gear. East German police watched from beside trees next to the autobahn all the way along.

The front of the convoy arrived at the outskirts of Berlin just before noon, to be met by Clay and Johnson, before parading through the streets of Berlin in front of a large crowd. At 04:00 on 21 August, Lyndon Johnson left West Berlin in the hands of Gen. Frederick O. Hartel and his brigade of 4,224 officers and men. Every three months for the next three and a half years, a new American battalion was rotated into West Berlin; each traveled by autobahn to demonstrate Allied rights.

The creation of the wall had important implications for both German states. By stemming the exodus of people from East Germany, the East German government was able to reassert its control over the country: in spite of discontent with the wall, economic problems caused by dual currency and the black market were largely eliminated. The economy in the GDR began to grow. But, the wall proved a public relations disaster for the communist bloc as a whole. Western powers used it in propaganda as a symbol of communist tyranny, particularly after East German border guards shot and killed would-be defectors. Such fatalities were later treated as acts of murder by the reunified Germany.

Layout and modifications

The Berlin Wall was more than 140 kilometres (87 mi) long. In June 1962, a second, parallel fence some 100 metres (109.4 yd) farther into East German territory was built. The houses contained between the fences were razed and the inhabitants relocated, thus establishing what later became known as the Death Strip. The Death Strip was covered with raked sand or gravel, rendering footprints easy to notice, easing the detection of trespassers and also enabling officers to see which guards had neglected their task; it offered no cover; and most importantly, it offered clear fields of fire for the wall guards.
Through the years, the Berlin Wall evolved through four versions:
  1. Wire fence (1961)
  2. Improved wire fence (1962–1965)
  3. Concrete wall (1965–1975)
  4. (Border Wall 75) (1975–1989)


The "fourth-generation wall", known officially as "" (retaining wall element UL 12.11), was the final and most sophisticated version of the Wall. Begun in 1975 and completed about 1980, it was constructed from 45,000 separate sections of reinforced concrete, each 3.6 metres (11.8 ft) high and 1.2 metres (3.9 ft) wide, and cost DDM
East German mark
The East German mark commonly called the eastern mark , in East Germany only Mark, was the currency of the German Democratic Republic . Its ISO 4217 currency code was DDM...

 16,155,000 or about US$3,638,000. The concrete provisions added to this version of the Wall were done so to prevent escapees from driving their cars through the barricades. At strategic points the wall was constructed to a somewhat weaker standard so that East German and Soviet armored vehicles could break through easily in the event of war.

The top of the wall was lined with a smooth pipe, intended to make it more difficult to scale. It was reinforced by mesh fencing
Fence
A fence is a freestanding structure designed to restrict or prevent movement across a boundary. It is generally distinguished from a wall by the lightness of its construction: a wall is usually restricted to such barriers made from solid brick or concrete, blocking vision as well as passage .Fences...

, signal fencing, anti-vehicle trenches, barbed wire
Barbed wire
Barbed wire, also known as barb wire , is a type of fencing wire constructed with sharp edges or points arranged at intervals along the strand. It is used to construct inexpensive fences and is used atop walls surrounding secured property...

, dogs on long lines, "beds of nails
Bed of nails
A bed of nails is an oblong piece of wood the size of a bed with nails pointing upwards out of it. It appears to the spectator that anyone lying on this "bed" would be injured by the nails, but this is not so...

" under balconies hanging over the "death strip", over 116 watchtowers, and 20 bunker
Bunker
A military bunker is a hardened shelter, often buried partly or fully underground, designed to protect the inhabitants from falling bombs or other attacks...

s. This version of the Wall is the one most commonly seen in photographs, and surviving fragments of the Wall in Berlin and elsewhere around the world are generally pieces of the fourth-generation Wall. The layout came to resemble the inner German border in most technical aspects, except the Berlin Wall had no landmines and no spring-gun
Spring-gun
A spring-gun is a gun, often a shotgun, rigged to fire when a string or other triggering device is tripped by contact of sufficient force to "spring" the trigger so that anyone stumbling over or treading on them would discharge it and wound themselves....

s.

Surrounding municipalities

Besides the sector-sector boundary within Berlin itself, the wall also separated West Berlin from the present-day state of Brandenburg
Brandenburg
Brandenburg is one of the sixteen federal-states of Germany. It lies in the east of the country and is one of the new federal states that were re-created in 1990 upon the reunification of the former West Germany and East Germany. The capital is Potsdam...

. The following present-day municipalities, listed in counter-clockwise direction, share a border with former West Berlin:
  • Oberhavel
    Oberhavel
    Oberhavel is a Kreis in the northern part of Brandenburg, Germany. Neighboring districts are Mecklenburg-Strelitz in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, the districts Uckermark, Barnim, the Bundesland Berlin, and the districts Havelland and Ostprignitz-Ruppin.-Geography:The district is located along...

     :
    Mühlenbecker Land
    Mühlenbecker Land
    Mühlenbecker Land is a municipality in the Oberhavel district, in Brandenburg, Germany.-History:The municipality shared its borders partly with the former West Berlin, and so during the period 1961-1990 it was separated from it by the Berlin Wall....

     (partially), Glienicke/Nordbahn
    Glienicke/Nordbahn
    Glienicke/Nordbahn is a municipality in the Oberhavel district, in Brandenburg, Germany. It ls located right north of Berlin.-Landscape:Glienicke/Nordbahn is located on the northern outskirts of Berlin. The addition "Nordbahn" is based on the proximity to the 19th century-built railway line...

    , Hohen Neuendorf
    Hohen Neuendorf
    Hohen Neuendorf is a town in the Oberhavel district, in Brandenburg, Germany. It is located north west of Berlin.-Geography:Hohen Neuendorf is situated upon the Havel river and is bordered by the Berlin area Frohnau to the south, Muehlenbeck to the east, Birkenwerder and Oranienburg to the north,...

    , Hennigsdorf
    Hennigsdorf
    Hennigsdorf is a town in the district of Oberhavel, in Brandenburg, Germany. It is situated north-west of Berlin, just across the city border, which is formed mainly by the Havel river.-History:...

  • Havelland
    Havelland
    Havelland is a geograhical region and district in Brandenburg, Germany. It is bounded by the districts of Ostprignitz-Ruppin and Oberhavel, the city-state of Berlin, the district of Potsdam-Mittelmark, the city of Brandenburg and the state of Saxony-Anhalt .-History:-Geography:Geographically...

     :
    Schönwalde-Glien
    Schönwalde-Glien
    Schönwalde-Glien is a community in the Havelland district, in Brandenburg, Germany.-History:The municipality shared its borders with the former West Berlin, and so during the period 1961-1990 it was separated from it by the Berlin Wall....

    , Falkensee
    Falkensee
    Falkensee is a town in the Havelland district, Brandenburg, Germany. It is the most populated municipality of its district and it is situated at the western border of Berlin.-History:...

    , Dallgow-Döberitz
    Dallgow-Döberitz
    Dallgow-Döberitz is a municipality in the Havelland district, in Brandenburg, Germany.-Geography:It consists of the villages Dallgow-Döberitz, Rohrbeck and Seeburg. To the east it shares border with the Spandau borough of Berlin. Neighbouring Brandenburg municipalities are Falkensee in the north...

  • Potsdam
    Potsdam
    Potsdam is the capital city of the German federal state of Brandenburg and part of the Berlin/Brandenburg Metropolitan Region. It is situated on the River Havel, southwest of Berlin city centre....

    (Urban district)
  • Potsdam-Mittelmark
    Potsdam-Mittelmark
    Potsdam-Mittelmark is a Kreis in the western part of Brandenburg, Germany. Neighboring are the district Havelland, the district free cities Brandenburg and Potsdam, the Bundesland Berlin, the district Teltow-Fläming, and the districts Wittenberg, Anhalt-Bitterfeld and Jerichower Land in...

     :
    Stahnsdorf
    Stahnsdorf
    Stahnsdorf is a municipality in the Potsdam-Mittelmark district, in Brandenburg, Germany.-Geography:It is situated 20 km southwest of Berlin , and 12 km east of Potsdam.-History:...

    , Kleinmachnow
    Kleinmachnow
    Kleinmachnow is a municipality in the Potsdam-Mittelmark district, in Brandenburg, Germany.-Geography:It is situated southwest of the centre of Berlin, immediately neighbouring the borough of Steglitz-Zehlendorf, and east of Potsdam...

    , Teltow
    Teltow
    Teltow is a town in the Potsdam-Mittelmark district, in Brandenburg, Germany.-Geography:Teltow is part of the agglomeration of Berlin. The distance to the Berlin city centre is , while the distance to Potsdam is ....

  • Teltow-Fläming
    Teltow-Fläming
    Teltow-Fläming is a Kreis in the southwestern part of Brandenburg, Germany. Neighboring districts are Dahme-Spreewald, Elbe-Elster, the districts Wittenberg in Saxony-Anhalt, the district Potsdam-Mittelmark, and the Bundesland Berlin.-Geography:The district is named after the two main regions...

     :
    Großbeeren
    Großbeeren
    Großbeeren is a municipality in the district of Teltow-Fläming in the German state of Brandenburg.-Geography:Located about 3 km south of Berlin's city limits. It includes the localities of Diedersdorf, Heinersdorf and Kleinbeeren.-History:...

    , Blankenfelde-Mahlow
    Blankenfelde-Mahlow
    Blankenfelde-Mahlow is a municipality in the Teltow-Fläming district of Brandenburg, Germany. It is situated approx. 3 km south of Berlin.-History:...

  • Dahme-Spreewald
    Dahme-Spreewald
    Dahme-Spreewald is a district in Brandenburg, Germany. It is bounded by the districts of Oder-Spree, Spree-Neiße, Oberspreewald-Lausitz, Elbe-Elster and Teltow-Fläming, and by the city of Berlin.- History :...

     :
    Schönefeld
    Schönefeld
    -Places in Germany:*Schönefeld, a municipality of Brandenburg near Berlin*Leipzig-Schönefeld, a quarter of Leipzig, Saxony*Schönefeld , a village in the town Beelitz, Brandenburg...

     (partially)

Official crossings and usage

There were nine border crossings between East and West Berlin, which allowed visits by West Berliners, West Germans, Western foreigners and Allied personnel into East Berlin, as well as visits by GDR citizens and citizens of other socialist countries into West Berlin, provided that they held the necessary permits. Those crossings were restricted according to which nationality was allowed to use it (East Germans, West Germans, West Berliners, other countries). The most famous was the vehicle and pedestrian checkpoint at the corner of Friedrichstraße
Friedrichstraße
The Friedrichstraße is a major culture and shopping street in central Berlin, forming the core of the Friedrichstadt neighborhood. It runs from the northern part of the old Mitte district to the Hallesches Tor in the district of Kreuzberg...

 and Zimmerstraße, also known as Checkpoint Charlie
Checkpoint Charlie
Checkpoint Charlie was the name given by the Western Allies to the best-known Berlin Wall crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War....

, which was restricted to Allied personnel and foreigners.

Several other border crossings existed between West Berlin and surrounding East Germany. These could be used for transit between West Germany and West Berlin, for visits by West Berliners into East Germany, for transit into countries neighbouring East Germany (Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

, Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1992...

, Denmark), and for visits by East Germans into West Berlin carrying a permit. After the 1972 agreements, new crossings were opened to allow West Berlin waste to be transported into East German dumps, as well as some crossings for access to West Berlin's exclaves (see Steinstücken
Steinstücken
Steinstücken, a small settlement with approximately 200 inhabitants, is the southernmost territory of the Berlin borough of Steglitz-Zehlendorf, belonging to Wannsee...

).

Four autobahns connected West Berlin to West Germany, the most famous being the Berlin-Helmstedt autobahn, which entered East German territory between the towns of Helmstedt and Marienborn (Checkpoint Alpha), and which entered West Berlin at Dreilinden (Checkpoint Bravo for the Allied forces) in southwestern Berlin. Access to West Berlin was also possible by railway (four routes) and by boat for commercial shipping via canals and rivers.

Non-German Westerners could cross the border at Friedrichstraße station
Berlin Friedrichstraße railway station
Berlin Friedrichstraße is a railway station in the German capital Berlin. It is located on the Friedrichstraße, a major north-south street in the Mitte district of Berlin, adjacent to the point where the street crosses the Spree river...

 in East Berlin and at Checkpoint Charlie
Checkpoint Charlie
Checkpoint Charlie was the name given by the Western Allies to the best-known Berlin Wall crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War....

. When the Wall was erected, Berlin's complex public transit networks, the S-Bahn
Berlin S-Bahn
The Berlin S-Bahn is a rapid transit system in and around Berlin, the capital city of Germany. It consists of 15 lines and is integrated with the mostly underground U-Bahn to form the backbone of Berlin's rapid transport system...

 and U-Bahn
Berlin U-Bahn
The Berlin is a rapid transit railway in Berlin, the capital city of Germany, and is a major part of the public transport system of that city. Opened in 1902, the serves 173 stations spread across ten lines, with a total track length of , about 80% of which is underground...

, were divided with it. Some lines were cut in half; many stations were shut down. Three western lines traveled through brief sections of East Berlin territory, passing through eastern stations (called , or ghost station
Ghost station
Ghost stations is the usual English translation for the German word Geisterbahnhöfe. This term was used to describe certain stations on Berlin's U-Bahn and S-Bahn metro networks that were closed during the period of Berlin's division during the Cold War...

s) without stopping. Both the eastern and western networks converged at , which became a major crossing point for those (mostly Westerners) with permission to cross.

Who could cross

West Germans and citizens of other Western countries could in general visit East Germany. Usually this involved application of a visa at an East German embassy several weeks in advance. Visas for day trips restricted to East Berlin were issued without previous application in a simplified procedure at the border crossing. However, East German authorities could refuse entry permits without stating a reason. In the 1980s, visitors from the western part of the city who wanted to visit the eastern part had to exchange at least DM 25 into East German currency at the poor exchange rate of 1:1. It was forbidden to export East German currency from the East, but money not spent could be left at the border for possible future visits. Tourists crossing from the west had to also pay for a visa, which cost DM 5; West Berliners did not have to pay this.

West Berliners initially could not visit East Berlin or East Germany at all. All crossing points were closed to them between 26 August 1961 and 17 December 1963. In 1963, negotiations between East and West resulted in a limited possibility for visits during the Christmas season that year (). Similar, very limited arrangements were made in 1964, 1965 and 1966.

In 1971, with the Four Power Agreement on Berlin
Four Power Agreement on Berlin
The Four Power Agreement on Berlin also known as the Berlin Agreement or the Quadripartite Agreement on Berlin was agreed on 3 September 1971 by the four wartime allied powers, represented by their Ambassadors...

, agreements were reached that allowed West Berliners to apply for visas to enter East Berlin and East Germany regularly, comparable to the regulations already in force for West Germans. However, East German authorities could still refuse entry permits.

East Berliners and East Germans could at first not travel to West Berlin or West Germany at all. This regulation remained in force essentially until the fall of the wall, but over the years several exceptions to these rules were introduced, the most significant being:
  • Elderly pensioners could travel to the West starting in 1965
  • Visits of relatives for important family matters
  • People who had to travel to the West for professional reasons (for example, artists, truck drivers, musicians, writers and so on.)


However, each visit had to be applied for individually and approval was never guaranteed. In addition, even if travel was approved, GDR travellers could exchange only a very small amount of East German Mark
East German mark
The East German mark commonly called the eastern mark , in East Germany only Mark, was the currency of the German Democratic Republic . Its ISO 4217 currency code was DDM...

s into Deutsche Marks (DM), thus limiting the financial resources available for them to travel to the West. This led to the West German practice of granting a small amount of DM annually (Begrüßungsgeld
Begrüßungsgeld
Begrüßungsgeld was, from 1970 until 29 December 1989, a gift from the government of the Federal Republic of Germany to visitors from the German Democratic Republic...

, or welcome money) to GDR citizens visiting West Germany and West Berlin to help alleviate this situation.

Citizens of other East European countries were in general subject to the same prohibition of visiting Western countries as East Germans, though the applicable exception (if any) varied from country to country.

Allied military personnel and civilian officials of the Allied forces could enter and exit East Berlin without submitting to East German passport controls, purchasing a visa or being required to exchange money. Likewise, Soviet military patrols could enter and exit West Berlin. This was a requirement of the post-war Four Powers Agreements. A particular area of concern for the Western Allies involved official dealings with East German authorities when crossing the border, since Allied policy did not recognize the authority of the GDR to regulate Allied military traffic to and from West Berlin, as well as the Allied presence within Greater Berlin, including entry into, exit from, and presence within East Berlin; the Allies held that only the Soviet Union, and not the GDR, had authority to regulate Allied personnel in such cases. For this reason, elaborate procedures were established to prevent inadvertent recognition of East German authority when engaged in travel through the GDR and when in East Berlin. Special rules applied to travel by Western Allied military personnel assigned to the Military Liaison Missions
Military Liaison Missions
The Military Liaison Missions arose from reciprocal agreements formed immediately after the Second World War between the Western allied nations and the USSR...

 accredited to the commander of Soviet forces in East Germany, located in Potsdam
Potsdam
Potsdam is the capital city of the German federal state of Brandenburg and part of the Berlin/Brandenburg Metropolitan Region. It is situated on the River Havel, southwest of Berlin city centre....

.

Allied personnel were restricted by policy when travelling by land to the following routes:

Transit between West Germany and West Berlin:
  • Road: the Helmstedt-Berlin autobahn (A2) (Checkpoints Alpha and Bravo respectively). Soviet military personnel manned these checkpoints and processed Allied personnel for travel between the two points. Military personnel were required to be in uniform when traveling in this manner.
  • Rail: Western Allied military personnel and civilian officials of the Allied forces were forbidden from using commercial train service between West Germany and West Berlin, due to the fact of GDR passport and customs controls when using them. Instead, the Allied forces operated a series of official (duty) trains that traveled between their respective duty stations in West Germany and West Berlin. When transiting the GDR, the trains would follow the route between Helmstedt and Griebnitzsee, just outside of West Berlin. In addition to persons traveling on official business, authorized personnel could also use the duty trains for personal travel on a space-available basis. The trains traveled only at night, and as with transit by car, Soviet military personnel handled the processing of duty train travelers.


Entry into and exit from East Berlin:
  • Checkpoint Charlie
    Checkpoint Charlie
    Checkpoint Charlie was the name given by the Western Allies to the best-known Berlin Wall crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War....

     (as a pedestrian or riding in a vehicle)


As with military personnel, special procedures applied to travel by diplomatic personnel of the Western Allies accredited to their respective embassies in the GDR. This was intended to prevent inadvertent recognition of East German authority when crossing between East and West Berlin, which could jeopardize the overall Allied position governing the freedom of movement by Allied forces personnel within all Berlin.

Ordinary citizens of the Western Allied powers, not formally affiliated with the Allied forces, were authorized to use all designated transit routes through East Germany to and from West Berlin. Regarding travel to East Berlin, such persons could also use the Friedrichstraße train station to enter and exit the city, in addition to Checkpoint Charlie
Checkpoint Charlie
Checkpoint Charlie was the name given by the Western Allies to the best-known Berlin Wall crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War....

. In these instances, such travelers, unlike Allied personnel, had to submit to East German border controls.

Defection attempts

During the years of the Wall, around 5,000 people successfully defected to West Berlin. The number of people who died trying to cross the wall, or as a result of the wall's existence, has been disputed. The most vocal claims by Alexandra Hildebrandt
Alexandra Hildebrandt
Alexandra Hildebrandt is a Ukrainian artist of German descent, as well as co-founder and current Director of the Checkpoint Charlie Museum and the chair of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft 13. August Association...

, Director of the Checkpoint Charlie Museum
Checkpoint Charlie Museum
The Checkpoint Charlie Museum is a museum in Berlin. It is named after the famous crossing point on the Berlin Wall, and was created to document the so-called "best border security system in the world"...

 and widow of the Museum's founder, estimated the death toll to be well above 200. A historic research group at the Center for Contemporary Historical Research (ZZF) in Potsdam
Potsdam
Potsdam is the capital city of the German federal state of Brandenburg and part of the Berlin/Brandenburg Metropolitan Region. It is situated on the River Havel, southwest of Berlin city centre....

 has confirmed 136 deaths. Prior official figures listed 98 as being killed.

The East German government issued shooting orders (Schießbefehl) to border guards dealing with defectors, though such orders are not the same as "shoot to kill" orders. GDR officials denied issuing the latter. In an October 1973 order later discovered by researchers, guards were instructed that people attempting to cross the wall were criminals and needed to be shot: "Do not hesitate to use your firearm, not even when the border is breached in the company of women and children, which is a tactic the traitors have often used".

Early successful escapes involved people jumping the initial barbed wire or leaping out of apartment windows along the line, but these ended as the wall was fortified. East German authorities no longer permitted apartments near the wall to be occupied, and any building near the wall had its windows boarded and later bricked up. On 15 August 1961, Conrad Schumann
Conrad Schumann
Hans Conrad Schumann was an East German soldier who famously defected to West Germany during the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961.-Early life:...

 was the first East German border guard to escape by jumping the barbed wire to West Berlin. On 22 August 1961 Ida Siekmann
Ida Siekmann
Ida Siekmann was the first person to die at the Berlin Wall.-Biography:Ida Siekmann was born in Gorken near Marienwerder . She had moved to Berlin and lived at 48 Bernauer Strasse in the center of Berlin.After World War II, Berlin was divided in four Allied sectors...

 was the first casualty at the Berlin Wall: she died after she jumped out of her third floor apartment at 48 Bernauer Strasse. The first person to be shot and killed while trying to cross to West Berlin was Günter Litfin, a twenty-four year old tailor. He attempted to swim across the Spree Canal to freedom in West Germany on 24 August 1961, the same day that East German police had received shoot-to-kill orders to prevent anyone from escaping.

Another dramatic escape was carried out on April 1963 by Wolfgang Engels
Wolfgang Engels
Wolfgang Engels is a former East German soldier. In April 1963, on the eve of May Day celebrations, he rammed a stolen armoured personnel carrier into the Berlin Wall in an attempt to escape into West Berlin. The APC did not fully penetrate the wall, so Engels exited the vehicle and was shot...

, a 19-year-old civilian employee of the Nationale Volksarmee. Engels stole a Soviet armored personnel carrier from a base where he was deployed and drove it right into the wall. He was fired at and seriously wounded by border guards. But a West German policeman intervened, firing his weapon at the East German border guards. The policeman removed Engels from the vehicle, which had become entangled in the barbed wire.

East Germans successfully defected by a variety of methods: digging long tunnels under the wall, waiting for favorable winds and taking a hot air balloon, sliding along aerial wires, flying ultralights
Ultralight aviation
The term "ultralight aviation" refers to light-weight, 1- or 2-person airplanes., also called microlight aircraft in the UK, India and New Zealand...

, and in one instance, simply driving a sports car at full speed through the basic, initial fortifications. When a metal beam was placed at checkpoints to prevent this kind of defection, up to four people (two in the front seats and possibly two in the boot) drove under the bar in a sports car that had been modified to allow the roof and windscreen to come away when it made contact with the beam. They lay flat and kept driving forward. The East Germans then built zig-zagging roads at checkpoints. The sewer system predated the wall, and some people escaped through the sewers, in a number of cases with assistance from the Girmann student group
Girrmann group
The Unternehmen Reisebüro, also known as the Girrmann Group was one of the first and most influential groups helping people escape from East Berlin during the Cold War. It was started by students at the Eichkamp International student hostel of the Free University of West Berlin. The founders of...

.

An airborne escape was made by Thomas Krüger, who landed a Zlin Z 42M light aircraft of the Gesellschaft für Sport und Technik, an East German youth military training organization, at RAF Gatow. His aircraft, registration DDR-WOH, was dismantled and returned to the East Germans by road, complete with humorous slogans painted on by RAF
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

 airmen such as "Wish you were here" and "Come back soon". DDR-WOH is still flying today, but under the registration D-EWOH
D-EWOH
D-EWOH is a Zlin Z 42M General Aviation aircraft. Prior to its registration to its current German tail number in 1991, it was registered in the German Democratic Republic as DDR-WOH...

.

If an escapee was wounded in a crossing attempt and lay on the death strip, no matter how close they were to the Western wall, Westerners could not intervene for fear of triggering engaging fire from the 'Grepos', the East Berlin border guards. The guards often let fugitives bleed to death in the middle of this ground, as in the most notorious failed attempt, that of Peter Fechter
Peter Fechter
Peter Fechter was a German bricklayer from Berlin in what became East Germany in 1945. He was aged just 18, one of the first victims of the Berlin Wall's border guards while trying to cross over to what was then West Berlin.-Background:After World War II, Germany was governed jointly by an Allied...

 (aged 18). He was shot and bled to death, in full view of the Western media, on 17 August 1962. Fechter's death created negative publicity worldwide that led the leaders of East Berlin to place more restrictions on shooting in public places, and provide medical care for possible “would-be escapers”. The last person to be shot while trying to cross the border was Chris Gueffroy
Chris Gueffroy
Chris Gueffroy was the last person to be shot while trying to escape to West Berlin across the Berlin Wall...

 on 6 February 1989.

The Wall gave rise to a widespread sense of desperation and oppression in East Berlin, as expressed in the private thoughts of one resident, who confided to her diary "Our lives have lost their spirit…we can do nothing to stop them."

"Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."

In a speech at the Brandenburg Gate
Brandenburg Gate
The Brandenburg Gate is a former city gate and one of the most well-known landmarks of Berlin and Germany. It is located west of the city centre at the junction of Unter den Linden and Ebertstraße, immediately west of the Pariser Platz. It is the only remaining gate of a series through which...

 commemorating the 750th anniversary of Berlin on 12 June 1987, Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 challenged Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is a former Soviet statesman, having served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991, and as the last head of state of the USSR, having served from 1988 until its dissolution in 1991...

, then the General Secretary
General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was the title given to the leader of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. With some exceptions, the office was synonymous with leader of the Soviet Union...

 of the Communist Party
Communist Party of the Soviet Union
The Communist Party of the Soviet Union was the only legal, ruling political party in the Soviet Union and one of the largest communist organizations in the world...

 of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, to tear down the wall as a symbol of increasing freedom in the Eastern Bloc
Eastern bloc
The term Eastern Bloc or Communist Bloc refers to the former communist states of Eastern and Central Europe, generally the Soviet Union and the countries of the Warsaw Pact...

:

The Fall

After allowing for loopholes throughout the summer, Hungary
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

 effectively disabled its physical border defenses with Austria on 19 August 1989 and, in September, more than 13,000 East German tourists escaped through Hungary to Austria. This set up a chain of events. The Hungarians prevented many more East Germans from crossing the border and returned them to Budapest. These East Germans flooded the West German embassy and refused to return to East Germany. The East German government responded by disallowing any further travel to Hungary, but allowed those already there to return. This triggered a similar incident in neighboring Czechoslovakia. On this occasion, the East German authorities allowed them to leave, providing that they used a train which transited East Germany on the way. This was followed by mass demonstrations within East Germany itself. (See Monday demonstrations in East Germany
Monday demonstrations in East Germany
The Monday demonstrations in East Germany in 1989 and 1990 were a series of peaceful political protests against the authoritarian communist government of the German Democratic Republic that took place every Monday evening.- Overview :...

.) The longtime leader of East Germany, Erich Honecker
Erich Honecker
Erich Honecker was a German communist politician who led the German Democratic Republic as General Secretary of the Socialist Unity Party from 1971 until 1989, serving as Head of State as well from Willi Stoph's relinquishment of that post in 1976....

, resigned on 18 October 1989 and was replaced by Egon Krenz
Egon Krenz
Egon Krenz is a former politician from East Germany , and that country's last Communist leader...

 a few days later. Honecker had predicted in January of that year that the wall would stand for 50 or 100 more years if the conditions that had caused its construction did not change.

Protest demonstrations broke out all over East Germany in September 1989. Initially, protesters were mostly people wanting to leave to the West, chanting ("We want out!"). Then protestors began to chant , ("We're staying here!"). This was the start of what East Germans generally call the "Peaceful Revolution" of late 1989. The protest demonstrations grew considerably by early November. The movement neared its height on 4 November when half a million people gathered at the Alexanderplatz demonstration
Alexanderplatz demonstration
The Alexanderplatz demonstration was a demonstration for political reforms and against the government of the German Democratic Republic on Alexanderplatz in East Berlin on 4 November 1989...

, a rally for change in East Berlin's large public square and transportation hub. (Henslin, 07)

Meanwhile, the wave of refugees leaving East Germany for the West had increased and had found its way through Hungary via Czechoslovakia (or via the West German Embassy in Prague), tolerated by the new Krenz government and in agreement with the communist Czechoslovak government. To ease the complications, the politburo led by Krenz decided on 9 November to allow refugees to exit directly through crossing points between East Germany and West Germany, including West Berlin. On the same day, the ministerial administration modified the proposal to include private travel. The new regulations were to take effect the next day.

Günter Schabowski
Günter Schabowski
Günter Schabowski is a former official of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany , the ruling party during most of the existence of the German Democratic Republic...

, the party boss in East Berlin and the spokesman for the SED Politburo, had the task of announcing this; however he had not been involved in the discussions about the new regulations and had not been fully updated. Shortly before a press conference on 9 November, he was handed a note announcing the changes, but given no further instructions on how to handle the information. These regulations had only been completed a few hours earlier and were to take effect the following day, so as to allow time to inform the border guards—however, nobody had informed Schabowski. He read the note out loud at the end of the conference. One of the reporters—by most accounts, NBC
NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

's Tom Brokaw
Tom Brokaw
Thomas John "Tom" Brokaw is an American television journalist and author best known as the anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News from 1982 to 2004. He is the author of The Greatest Generation and other books and the recipient of numerous awards and honors...

--asked when the regulations would take effect. After a few seconds' hesitation, Schabowski assumed it would be the same day based on the wording of the note and replied, "As far as I know effective immediately, without delay". After further questions from journalists he confirmed that the regulations included the border crossings towards West Berlin, which he had not mentioned until then.

Excerpts from Schabowski's press conference were the lead story on West Germany's two main news programs that night—at 7:17 PM on ZDF
ZDF
Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen , ZDF, is a public-service German television broadcaster based in Mainz . It is run as an independent non-profit institution, which was founded by the German federal states . The ZDF is financed by television licence fees called GEZ and advertising revenues...

's heute
Heute
heute is a news show on the German television channel ZDF. The main show is broadcast at 7 PM, or 19:00, consisting of news of the day, weather forecasts and sport...

and at 8 PM on ARD
ARD (broadcaster)
ARD is a joint organization of Germany's regional public-service broadcasters...

's Tagesschau; this of course meant that the news was broadcast to nearly all of East Germany as well. Later that night, on ARD's Tagesthemen
Tagesthemen
Tagesthemen is one of Germany's prime daily television news magazines, presented by journalists Caren Miosga and Tom Buhrow. Second only to the 8:00 PM Tagesschau Tagesthemen is the most important newscast of the ARD...

, anchorman Hans Joachim Friedrichs proclaimed, "This is a historic day. East Germany has announced that, starting immediately, its borders are open to everyone. The GDR is opening its borders ... the gates in the Berlin Wall stand open."

After hearing the broadcast, East Germans began gathering at the wall and at the six checkpoints between East and West, demanding that border guards immediately open the gates. The surprised and overwhelmed guards made many hectic telephone calls to their superiors about the problem. At first, they were ordered to find the "more aggressive" people gathered at the gates and stamp their passports with a special stamp that barred them from returning to East Germany—in effect, revoking their citizenship. However, this still left thousands of people demanding to be let through "as Schabowski said we can."

It soon became clear that no one among the East German authorities would take personal responsibility for issuing orders to use lethal force, so the vastly outnumbered soldiers had no way to hold back the huge crowd of East German citizens. Finally, at 10:45 pm, the guards finally yielded, opening the checkpoints and allowing people through with little or no identity checking. As the Ossis swarmed through, they were greeted by Wessi
Wessi
Wessi is the informal name that people in Germany call former citizens of West Germany before re-unification, while the counterpart for former citizens of East Germany is Ossi. These names represent the lingering differences between the two pre-reunification cultures, and Germany's popular culture...

s
waiting with flowers and champagne amid wild rejoicing. Soon afterward, a crowd of West Berliners jumped on top of the wall, and were soon joined by East German youngsters. They danced together to celebrate their new freedom.

Demolition

The date on which the Wall fell is considered to have been 9 November 1989 but the Wall in its entirety was not torn down immediately. Starting that evening and in the days and weeks that followed, people came to the wall with sledgehammers or otherwise hammers and chisels to chip off souvenirs, demolishing lengthy parts of it in the process and creating several unofficial border crossings. These people were nicknamed "Mauerspechte" (wall woodpeckers).

The East German regime announced the opening of ten new border crossings
Berlin border crossings
The Berlin border crossings were created as a result of the postwar division of Germany. Prior to the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961, travel between the Eastern and Western sectors of Berlin was totally uncontrolled, although restrictions were increasingly introduced by the Soviet and East...

 the following weekend, including some in historically significant locations (Potsdamer Platz
Potsdamer Platz
Potsdamer Platz is an important public square and traffic intersection in the centre of Berlin, Germany, lying about one kilometre south of the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag , and close to the southeast corner of the Tiergarten park...

, Glienicker Brücke, Bernauer Straße
Bernauer Straße
Bernauer Straße is a street of Berlin situated between the localities of Gesundbrunnen and Mitte, today both belonging to the Mitte borough. It runs from the Mauerpark at the corner of Prenzlauer Berg to the Nordbahnhof...

). Crowds on both sides waited there for hours, cheering at the bulldozers which took parts of the Wall away to reinstate old roads. Photos and television footage of these events is sometimes mislabelled "dismantling of the Wall", even though it was merely the construction of new crossings. New border crossings continued to be opened through the middle of 1990, including the Brandenburg Gate on 22 December 1989.
West Germans and West Berliners were allowed visa-free travel starting 23 December. Until then, they could only visit East Germany and East Berlin under restrictive conditions that involved application for a visa several days or weeks in advance and obligatory exchange of at least 25 DM per day of their planned stay, all of which hindered spontaneous visits. Thus, in the weeks between 9 November and 23 December, East Germans could actually travel more freely than Westerners.

Television coverage of citizens demolishing sections of the wall on the evening of 9 November and the new border crossings opened weeks later, led some foreigners to think the Wall was torn down quickly. Technically, the Wall remained guarded for some time after 9 November, though at a decreasing intensity. In the first months, the East German military even tried to repair some of the damages done by the "wall peckers". Gradually these attempts ceased, and guards became more lax, tolerating the increasing demolitions and "unauthorized" border crossing through the holes. On 13 June 1990, the official dismantling of the Wall by the East German military began in Bernauer Straße. On 1 July, the day East Germany adopted the West German currency, all de jure border controls ceased, although the inter-German border had become meaningless for some time before that. The dismantling continued to be carried out by military units (after unification under the Bundeswehr
Bundeswehr
The Bundeswehr consists of the unified armed forces of Germany and their civil administration and procurement authorities...

) and lasted until November 1991. Only a few short sections and watchtowers were left standing as memorials.

The fall of the Wall was the first step toward German reunification, which was formally concluded on 3 October 1990.

Opposition

In some European capitals at the time there was a deep anxiety over prospects for a reunified Germany. In September 1989, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990...

 pleaded with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is a former Soviet statesman, having served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991, and as the last head of state of the USSR, having served from 1988 until its dissolution in 1991...

 not to let the Berlin Wall fall and confided that she wanted the Soviet leader to do what he could to stop it.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, French President François Mitterrand
François Mitterrand
François Maurice Adrien Marie Mitterrand was the 21st President of the French Republic and ex officio Co-Prince of Andorra, serving from 1981 until 1995. He is the longest-serving President of France and, as leader of the Socialist Party, the only figure from the left so far elected President...

 warned Thatcher that a unified Germany could make more ground than Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 ever had and that Europe would have to bear the consequences.

Celebrations

On 25 December 1989, Leonard Bernstein
Leonard Bernstein
Leonard Bernstein August 25, 1918 – October 14, 1990) was an American conductor, composer, author, music lecturer and pianist. He was among the first conductors born and educated in the United States of America to receive worldwide acclaim...

 gave a concert in Berlin celebrating the end of the Wall, including Beethoven's
Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential composers of all time.Born in Bonn, then the capital of the Electorate of Cologne and part of...

 9th symphony
Symphony No. 9 (Beethoven)
The Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125, is the final complete symphony of Ludwig van Beethoven. Completed in 1824, the symphony is one of the best known works of the Western classical repertoire, and has been adapted for use as the European Anthem...

 (Ode to Joy
Ode to Joy
"Ode to Joy" is an ode written in 1785 by the German poet, playwright and historian Friedrich Schiller, enthusiastically celebrating the brotherhood and unity of all mankind...

) with the word "Joy" changed to "Freedom" in the lyrics sung. The orchestra and choir were drawn from both East and West Germany, as well as the United Kingdom, France, the Soviet Union, and the United States.

Roger Waters
Roger Waters
George Roger Waters is an English musician, singer-songwriter and composer. He was a founding member of the progressive rock band Pink Floyd, serving as bassist and co-lead vocalist. Following the departure of bandmate Syd Barrett in 1968, Waters became the band's lyricist, principal songwriter...

 performed
The Wall Concert in Berlin
The Wall – Live in Berlin was a live concert performance by Roger Waters and numerous guest artists, of the Pink Floyd studio album, The Wall, itself largely written by Waters during his time with the band. The show was held in Berlin, Germany, on 21 July 1990, to commemorate the fall of the Berlin...

 the Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd
Pink Floyd were an English rock band that achieved worldwide success with their progressive and psychedelic rock music. Their work is marked by the use of philosophical lyrics, sonic experimentation, innovative album art, and elaborate live shows. Pink Floyd are one of the most commercially...

 album The Wall
The Wall
The Wall is the eleventh studio album by English progressive rock group Pink Floyd. Released as a double album on 30 November 1979, it was subsequently performed live with elaborate theatrical effects, and adapted into a feature film, Pink Floyd—The Wall.As with the band's previous three...

just north of Potsdamer Platz
Potsdamer Platz
Potsdamer Platz is an important public square and traffic intersection in the centre of Berlin, Germany, lying about one kilometre south of the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag , and close to the southeast corner of the Tiergarten park...

 on 21 July 1990, with guests including Bon Jovi
Bon Jovi
Bon Jovi is an American rock band from Sayreville, New Jersey. Formed in 1983, Bon Jovi consists of lead singer and namesake Jon Bon Jovi , guitarist Richie Sambora, keyboardist David Bryan, drummer Tico Torres, as well as current bassist Hugh McDonald...

, Scorpions
Scorpions (band)
Scorpions are a heavy metal/hard rock band from Hannover, Germany, formed in 1965 by guitarist Rudolf Schenker, who is the band's only constant member. They are known for their 1980s rock anthem "Rock You Like a Hurricane" and many singles, such as "No One Like You", "Send Me an Angel", "Still...

, Bryan Adams
Bryan Adams
Bryan Adams, is a Canadian rock singer-songwriter, guitarist, bassist, producer, actor and photographer. Adams has won dozens of awards and nominations, including 20 Juno Awards among 56 nominations. He has also received 15 Grammy Award nominations including a win for Best Song Written...

, Sinéad O'Connor
Sinéad O'Connor
Sinéad Marie Bernadette O'Connor is an Irish singer-songwriter. She rose to fame in the late 1980s with her debut album The Lion and the Cobra and achieved worldwide success in 1990 with a cover of the song "Nothing Compares 2 U"....

, Thomas Dolby
Thomas Dolby
Thomas Dolby is an English musician and producer. Best known for his 1982 hit "She Blinded Me with Science", and 1984 single "Hyperactive!", he has also worked extensively in production and as a session musician.-Early life:Dolby was born in London, England, contrary to information in early 1980s...

, Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell, CC is a Canadian musician, singer songwriter, and painter. Mitchell began singing in small nightclubs in her native Saskatchewan and Western Canada and then busking in the streets and dives of Toronto...

, Marianne Faithfull
Marianne Faithfull
Marianne Evelyn Faithfull is an award-winning English singer, songwriter and actress whose career has spanned five decades....

, Levon Helm
Levon Helm
Mark Lavon "Levon" Helm , is an American rock multi-instrumentalist and actor who achieved fame as the drummer and frequent lead and backing vocalist for The Band....

, Rick Danko
Rick Danko
Richard Clare "Rick" Danko was a Canadian musician and singer, best known as a member of The Band.-Early years :...

 and Van Morrison
Van Morrison
Van Morrison, OBE is a Northern Irish singer-songwriter and musician. His live performances at their best are regarded as transcendental and inspired; while some of his recordings, such as the studio albums Astral Weeks and Moondance, and the live album It's Too Late to Stop Now, are widely...

. David Hasselhoff
David Hasselhoff
David Michael Hasselhoff is an American actor, singer, producer and businessman. He is best known for his lead roles as Michael Knight in the popular 1980s US series Knight Rider and as L.A. County Lifeguard Mitch Buchannon in the series Baywatch...

 performed his song "Looking for Freedom
Looking for Freedom (song)
"Looking for Freedom", with music by Jack White and lyric by Gary Cowtan, came out as a single from David Hasselhoff in 1989 . The song held the No. 1 positions in the former West Germany for 8 weeks and in Switzerland for 4 weeks...

", which was very popular in Germany at that time, standing on the Berlin wall.

Over the years, there has been a repeated controversial debate whether 9 November would make a suitable German national holiday, often initiated by former members of political opposition in East Germany such as Werner Schulz. Besides being the emotional apogee of East Germany's peaceful revolution, 9 November is also the date of the end of the Revolution of 1848
Revolutions of 1848 in the German states
The Revolutions of 1848 in the German states, also called the March Revolution – part of the Revolutions of 1848 that broke out in many countries of Europe – were a series of loosely coordinated protests and rebellions in the states of the German Confederation, including the Austrian Empire...

 and the date of the 1918 abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II and declaration of the Weimar Republic
Weimar Republic
The Weimar Republic is the name given by historians to the parliamentary republic established in 1919 in Germany to replace the imperial form of government...

, the first German republic. However, 9 November is also the anniversary of the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch
Beer Hall Putsch
The Beer Hall Putsch was a failed attempt at revolution that occurred between the evening of 8 November and the early afternoon of 9 November 1923, when Nazi Party leader Adolf Hitler, Generalquartiermeister Erich Ludendorff, and other heads of the Kampfbund unsuccessfully tried to seize power...

 and the infamous Kristallnacht
Kristallnacht
Kristallnacht, also referred to as the Night of Broken Glass, and also Reichskristallnacht, Pogromnacht, and Novemberpogrome, was a pogrom or series of attacks against Jews throughout Nazi Germany and parts of Austria on 9–10 November 1938.Jewish homes were ransacked, as were shops, towns and...

pogrom
Pogrom
A pogrom is a form of violent riot, a mob attack directed against a minority group, and characterized by killings and destruction of their homes and properties, businesses, and religious centres...

s of the Nazis in 1938. Nobel
Nobel Prize
The Nobel Prizes are annual international awards bestowed by Scandinavian committees in recognition of cultural and scientific advances. The will of the Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, established the prizes in 1895...

 Laureate Elie Wiesel
Elie Wiesel
Sir Eliezer "Elie" Wiesel KBE; born September 30, 1928) is a Hungarian-born Jewish-American writer, professor, political activist, Nobel Laureate, and Holocaust survivor. He is the author of 57 books, including Night, a work based on his experiences as a prisoner in the Auschwitz, Buna, and...

 criticized the first euphoria, noting that "they forgot that 9 Nov. has already entered into history—51 years earlier it marked the Kristallnacht." As reunification was not official and complete until 3 October, that day was finally chosen as German Unity Day
German Unity Day
The Day of German Unity is the national day of Germany, celebrated on 3 October as a public holiday. It commemorates the anniversary of German reunification in 1990, when the goal of a unity of Germany that originated in the middle of the 19th century, was fulfilled. Therefore, the name addresses...

.

20th Anniversary Celebrations

On 9 November 2009, Berlin celebrated the 20th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall with a "Festival of Freedom" with dignitaries from around the world in attendance for an evening celebration around the Brandenburg Gate
Brandenburg Gate
The Brandenburg Gate is a former city gate and one of the most well-known landmarks of Berlin and Germany. It is located west of the city centre at the junction of Unter den Linden and Ebertstraße, immediately west of the Pariser Platz. It is the only remaining gate of a series through which...

. A high point was when over 1,000 colourfully designed foam domino tiles, each over 8 feet (2.4 m) tall, that were stacked along the former route of the wall in the city center were toppled in stages, converging in front of the Brandenburg Gate.

A Berlin Twitter Wall was set up to allow Twitter users to post messages commemorating the 20th anniversary. Masses of Chinese users have used it to protest the Great Firewall of China. Berlin Twitter Wall was quickly blocked by the Chinese authorities.

In the United States, the German Embassy coordinated a public diplomacy campaign with the motto "Freedom Without Walls", to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The campaign was focused on promoting awareness of the fall of the Berlin Wall among current college students. Students at over 30 universities participated in "Freedom Without Walls" events in late 2009. First place winner of the Freedom Without Walls Speaking Contest Robert Cannon received a free trip to Berlin for 2010.

An international project called Mauerreise (Journey of the Wall) took place in various countries. Twenty symbolic wall bricks were sent from Berlin starting in May 2009. Their destination: Korea, Cyprus, Yemen and other places where everyday life is characterised by division and border experience. In these places, the bricks will become a blank canvas for artists, intellectuals and young people to tackle the 「wall」 phenomenon.

To commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall, Twinity reconstructed a true-to-scale section of the wall in virtual Berlin. The MTV Europe Music Awards
MTV Europe Music Awards
The MTV Europe Music Awards were established in 1994 by MTV Networks Europe to celebrate the most popular music videos in Europe. Originally beginning as an alternative to the American MTV Video Music Awards, the MTV Europe Music Awards is today a popular celebration of what MTV viewers consider...

, on the 5 November, had U2
U2
U2 are an Irish rock band from Dublin. Formed in 1976, the group consists of Bono , The Edge , Adam Clayton , and Larry Mullen, Jr. . U2's early sound was rooted in post-punk but eventually grew to incorporate influences from many genres of popular music...

 and Tokio Hotel
Tokio Hotel
Tokio Hotel is a pop rock band from Germany, founded in 2001 by singer Bill Kaulitz, guitarist Tom Kaulitz, drummer Gustav Schäfer and bassist Georg Listing...

 perform songs dedicated to, and about the Berlin Wall. U2 performed at the Brandenburg Gate, and Tokio Hotel performed "World Behind My Wall".

Palestinians in the town of Kalandia
Kalandia
Kalandia also Qalandiya is a Palestinian village and a refugee camp located between Jerusalem and Ramallah. In 2006, 1,154 people were living in the village of Kalandia according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics...

, West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

 pulled down parts of the Israeli West Bank barrier
Israeli West Bank barrier
The Israeli West Bank barrier is a separation barrier being constructed by the State of Israel along and within the West Bank. Upon completion, the barrier’s total length will be approximately...

, in a demonstration marking the 20th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall.

The International Spy Museum
International Spy Museum
The International Spy Museum is a privately owned museum dedicated to the field of espionage located within the 1875 Le Droit Building in the Penn Quarter neighborhood of Washington, D.C., across the street from the Old Patent Office Building and one block south of the Gallery Place Metro...

 in Washington DC hosted a Trabant
Trabant
The Trabant is a car that was produced by former East German auto maker VEB Sachsenring Automobilwerke Zwickau in Zwickau, Sachsen. It was the most common vehicle in East Germany, and was also exported to countries both inside and outside the communist bloc...

 car rally where 20 Trabants gathered in recognition of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Rides were raffled every half hour and a Trabant crashed through a Berlin Wall mock up. The Trabant was the East German people's car that many used to leave DDR after the collapse.

The Allied Museum
Allied Museum
The Allied Museum is a museum in Berlin. It documents the political history and the military commitments and roles of the Western Allies in Germany – particularly Berlin – between 1945 and 1994 and their contribution to liberty in Berlin.-Location: American Sector:The museum is located on the...

 in the Dahlem
Dahlem (Berlin)
Dahlem is a locality of the Steglitz-Zehlendorf borough in southwestern Berlin. Until Berlin's 2001 administrative reform it was a part of the former borough of Zehlendorf. Dahlem is one of the most affluent parts of the city and home to the main campus of the Free University of Berlin with the...

 district of Berlin hosted a number of events to mark the Twentieth Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. The museum held a Special Exhibition entitled "Wall Patrol – The Western Powers and the Berlin Wall 1961–1990" which focused on the daily patrols deployed by the Western powers to observe the situation along the Berlin Wall and the fortifications on the GDR border. A sheet of "Americans in Berlin" Commemorative Cinderella stamp
Cinderella stamp
In philately, a cinderella stamp has been defined as "Virtually anything resembling a postage stamp, but not issued for postal purposes by a government postal administration..." The term also excludes imprinted stamps on postal stationery.- Types :...

s designed by T.H.E. Hill, the author of Voices Under Berlin
Voices Under Berlin: The Tale of a Monterey Mary (novel)
Voices Under Berlin: The Tale of a Monterey Mary is a 2008 novel by an American Author writing under the pen name of T.H.E. Hill. The action of the novel takes place in Berlin in the mid-1950s, at the beginning of the Cold War, before the construction of the Berlin Wall...

, was presented to the Museum by David Guerra, Berlin veteran and webmaster of the site www.berlinbrigade.com
Berlin Brigade
After the end of World War II, under the conditions of the Yalta and Potsdam agreements, Allied forces occupied West Berlin. This occupation lasted throughout the Cold War...

. The stamps splendidly illustrate that even twenty years on, veterans of service in Berlin still regard their service there as one of the high points of their lives.

Legacy

Little is left of the Wall at its original site, which was destroyed almost everywhere. Three long sections are still standing: an 80-metre (263 ft) piece of the first (westernmost) wall at the Topography of Terror
Topography of Terror
The Topography of Terror is an outdoor museum in Berlin, the capital of Germany. It is located in Niederkirchnerstrasse, formerly Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse, on the site of buildings which during the Nazi regime from 1933 to 1945 were the headquarters of the Gestapo and the SS, the principal...

, site of the former Gestapo
Gestapo
The Gestapo was the official secret police of Nazi Germany. Beginning on 20 April 1934, it was under the administration of the SS leader Heinrich Himmler in his position as Chief of German Police...

 headquarters, half way between Checkpoint Charlie
Checkpoint Charlie
Checkpoint Charlie was the name given by the Western Allies to the best-known Berlin Wall crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War....

 and Potsdamer Platz
Potsdamer Platz
Potsdamer Platz is an important public square and traffic intersection in the centre of Berlin, Germany, lying about one kilometre south of the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag , and close to the southeast corner of the Tiergarten park...

; a longer section of the second (easternmost) wall along the Spree
Spree
The Spree is a river that flows through the Saxony, Brandenburg and Berlin states of Germany, and in the Ústí nad Labem region of the Czech Republic...

 River near the Oberbaumbrücke
Oberbaumbrücke
The Oberbaum Bridge is a double-deck bridge crossing Berlin's River Spree, considered one of the city landmarks. It links Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg, former boroughs that were divided by the Berlin Wall, and has become an important symbol of Berlin’s unity....

, nicknamed East Side Gallery
East Side Gallery
The East Side Gallery is an international memorial for freedom. It is a 1.3 km long section of the Berlin Wall located near the centre of Berlin on Mühlenstraße in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg.-Description:...

; and a third section that is partly reconstructed, in the north at Bernauer Straße
Bernauer Straße
Bernauer Straße is a street of Berlin situated between the localities of Gesundbrunnen and Mitte, today both belonging to the Mitte borough. It runs from the Mauerpark at the corner of Prenzlauer Berg to the Nordbahnhof...

, which was turned into a memorial in 1999. Some other isolated fragments and a few watchtowers also remain in various parts of the city.

None still accurately represents the Wall's original appearance. They are badly damaged by souvenir seekers. Fragments of the Wall were taken and some were sold around the world. Appearing both with and without certificates of authenticity
Certificate of Authenticity
A certificate of authenticity is a seal or small sticker on a proprietary computer program, t-shirt, jersey, or any other memorabilia or art work, especially in the world of computers and sports, it is commonly a seal on paper authenticating a specific art work which and is made to demonstrate...

, these fragments are now a staple on the online auction service eBay
EBay
eBay Inc. is an American internet consumer-to-consumer corporation that manages eBay.com, an online auction and shopping website in which people and businesses buy and sell a broad variety of goods and services worldwide...

 as well as German souvenir shops. Today, the eastern side is covered in graffiti
Graffiti
Graffiti is the name for images or lettering scratched, scrawled, painted or marked in any manner on property....

 that did not exist while the Wall was guarded by the armed soldiers of East Germany. Previously, graffiti appeared only on the western side. Along the tourist areas of the city centre, the city government has marked the location of the former wall by a row of cobblestones in the street. In most places only the "first" wall is marked, except near Potsdamer Platz where the stretch of both walls is marked, giving visitors an impression of the dimension of the barrier system.

Museum

15 years after the fall, a private museum rebuilt a 200-metre (656 ft) section close to Checkpoint Charlie
Checkpoint Charlie
Checkpoint Charlie was the name given by the Western Allies to the best-known Berlin Wall crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War....

, although not in the location of the original wall. They temporarily erected more than 1,000 crosses in memory of those who died attempting to flee to the West. The memorial was installed in October 2004 and demolished in July 2005.

Cultural differences

For many years after reunification, people in Germany talked about cultural differences between East and West Germans (colloquially Ossis and Wessi
Wessi
Wessi is the informal name that people in Germany call former citizens of West Germany before re-unification, while the counterpart for former citizens of East Germany is Ossi. These names represent the lingering differences between the two pre-reunification cultures, and Germany's popular culture...

s
), sometimes described as Mauer im Kopf (The wall in the head). A September 2004 poll found that 25 percent of West Germans and 12 percent of East Germans wished that East and West should be separated again by a "Wall". A poll taken in October 2009 on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the wall indicated, however, that only about a tenth of the population was still unhappy with the unification (8 percent in the East; 12 percent in the West). Although differences are still perceived between East and West, Germans make similar distinctions between North
Northern Germany
- Geography :The key terrain features of North Germany are the marshes along the coastline of the North Sea and Baltic Sea, and the geest and heaths inland. Also prominent are the low hills of the Baltic Uplands, the ground moraines, end moraines, sandur, glacial valleys, bogs, and Luch...

 and South
Southern Germany
The term Southern Germany is used to describe a region in the south of Germany. There is no specific boundary to the region, but it usually includes all of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, and the southern part of Hesse...

.

A 2011 poll conducted by Russia's VTsIOM, found that more than half of all Russians do not know who built the Berlin Wall. Ten percent of people surveyed thought Berlin residents built it themselves. Six percent said Western powers built it and four percent thought it was a "bilateral initiative" of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 and the West. Fifty-eight percent said they did not know who built it, with just 24 percent correctly naming the Soviet Union and its then-communist ally East Germany.

Wall segments around the world

Not all segments of the wall were ground up as the wall was being torn down. Many segments have been given to various institutions around the world. They can be found, for instance in presidential and historical museums, lobbies of hotels and corporations, at universities and government buildings, and in public spaces around the world.

50th Anniversary commemoration

On 13 August 2011, Germany marked the 50th anniversary of East Germany beginning the erection of the Berlin Wall. Chancellor Angela Merkel
Angela Merkel
Angela Dorothea Merkel is the current Chancellor of Germany . Merkel, elected to the Bundestag from Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, has been the chairwoman of the Christian Democratic Union since 2000, and chairwoman of the CDU-CSU parliamentary coalition from 2002 to 2005.From 2005 to 2009 she led a...

 joined with President Christian Wulff
Christian Wulff
Christian Wilhelm Walter Wulff is the President of Germany and a politician of the Christian Democratic Union. He was elected President on 2010 and publicly swore the oath of office on . A lawyer by profession, he served as Premier of the state of Lower Saxony from 2003 to 2010.-Early life and...

 and Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit
Klaus Wowereit
Klaus Wowereit is a German politician, member of the SPD , and has been the Mayor of Berlin since the 2001 state elections, where his party won a plurality of the votes, 29.7%. He served as President of the Bundesrat in 2001/02. His SPD-led coalition was re-elected in the 2006 elections...

 at the Bernauer Straße
Bernauer Straße
Bernauer Straße is a street of Berlin situated between the localities of Gesundbrunnen and Mitte, today both belonging to the Mitte borough. It runs from the Mauerpark at the corner of Prenzlauer Berg to the Nordbahnhof...

 memorial park to remember lives and liberty. Speeches extolled freedom and a minute of silence at noon honored those who died trying to flee to the West. "It is our shared responsibility to keep the memory alive and to pass it on to the coming generations as a reminder to stand up for freedom and democracy to ensure that such injustice may never happen again," entreated Mayor Wowereit. "It has been shown once again: Freedom is invincible at the end. No wall can permanently withstand the desire for freedom,” proclaimed President Wulff."

See also

Media relating to the wall

  • Some films specifically about the Berlin Wall:
    • The Tunnel
      The Tunnel (NBC documentary)
      The Tunnel was a 90-minute black-and-white documentary film that chronicled how three West Berlin university students organized the escape of 59 friends and family members by digging a tunnel underneath the Berlin Wall...

      , a NBC News Special documentary film broadcast in December 1962
    • The Boy and the Wall Spanish-Mexican co-production, 1965
    • The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
      The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (film)
      The Spy Who Came in from the Cold is a 1965 film adaptation of the novel of the same name by John le Carré. It was adapted by Paul Dehn and Guy Trosper. The film stars Richard Burton as Alec Leamas, along with Claire Bloom, Oskar Werner, Peter van Eyck, Sam Wanamaker, Rupert Davies and Cyril Cusack...

      , 1965 – Cold War classic set on both sides of The Wall, from the book by John le Carré, directed by Martin Ritt
      Martin Ritt
      Martin Ritt was an American director, actor, and playwright who worked in both film and theater. He was born in New York City.-Early career and influences:...

    • Funeral in Berlin
      Funeral in Berlin (film)
      Funeral in Berlin is a 1966 British spy film based on the novel Funeral in Berlin by Len Deighton. It is the second of three 1960s films starring Michael Caine that followed the characters from the initial film, The Ipcress File ...

      , 1966 – Spy movie starring Michael Caine
      Michael Caine
      Sir Michael Caine, CBE is an English actor. He won Academy Awards for best supporting actor in both Hannah and Her Sisters and The Cider House Rules ....

      , directed by Guy Hamilton
      Guy Hamilton
      Guy Hamilton is an English film director.Hamilton was born in Paris, France where his English parents were living. Remaining in France during the Nazi occupation, he was active in the French Resistance...

    • The Wicked Dreams of Paula Schultz
      The Wicked Dreams of Paula Schultz
      The Wicked Dreams of Paula Schultz is a 1968 American comedy film directed by George Marshall and starring Elke Sommer, Bob Crane, Werner Klemperer and Leon Askin...

      , 1968 – Cold War spy farce about an Olympic athlete who defects. Director George Marshall
      George Marshall
      George Catlett Marshall was an American military leader, Chief of Staff of the Army, Secretary of State, and the third Secretary of Defense...

    • Berlin Tunnel 21, 1981 – A made-for-TV movie about a former American officer leading an attempt to build a tunnel underneath The Wall as a rescue route
    • Something To Do With The Wall, 1991 – Documentary shot just before and after the Wall came down, by Ross McElwee
      Ross McElwee
      Ross McElwee is an American documentary filmmaker and cinematographer, and Harvard professor, known for his autobiographical films about his family and personal life, usually interwoven with an episodic journey of some sort. Many cultural aspects of his southern upbringing are present in his...

       and Marilyn Levine
    • The Innocent
      The Innocent (1993 film)
      -Cast:*Anthony Hopkins... Glass*Isabella Rossellini... Maria*Campbell Scott... Leonard*Hart Bochner... Russell*Jeremy Sinden... Captain Lofting*Corey Johnson.....

      , 1993 – About the joint CIA/MI6 operation to build a tunnel under East Berlin in the 1950s. Directed by John Schlesinger
      John Schlesinger
      John Richard Schlesinger, CBE was an English film and stage director and actor.-Early life:Schlesinger was born in London into a middle-class Jewish family, the son of Winifred Henrietta and Bernard Edward Schlesinger, a physician...

    • The Tunnel, 2001 – Dramatization of a collaborative tunnel under the wall. Film by Roland Suso Richter
      Roland Suso Richter
      Roland Suso Richter is a German film director and producer.He also worked as a screenwriter and actor before settling for directing.- Biography :...

  • Some novels specifically about the Berlin Wall:
    • John le Carré
      John le Carré
      David John Moore Cornwell , who writes under the name John le Carré, is an author of espionage novels. During the 1950s and the 1960s, Cornwell worked for MI5 and MI6, and began writing novels under the pseudonym "John le Carré"...

      , The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
      The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
      The Spy Who Came in from the Cold , by John le Carré, is a British Cold War spy novel that became famous for its portrayal of Western espionage methods as being morally inconsistent with Western democracy and values. The novel received critical acclaim at the time of its publication and became an...

      , 1963 – Classic Cold War spy fiction
      Spy fiction
      Spy fiction, literature concerning the forms of espionage, was a sub-genre derived from the novel during the nineteenth century, which then evolved into a discrete genre before the First World War , when governments established modern intelligence agencies in the early twentieth century...

    • Len Deighton
      Len Deighton
      Leonard Cyril Deighton is a British military historian, cookery writer, and novelist. He is perhaps most famous for his spy novel The IPCRESS File, which was made into a film starring Michael Caine....

      , Berlin Game
      Berlin Game
      Berlin Game is a 1983 spy novel by Len Deighton. It is the first novel in the first of three trilogies about Bernard Samson, a middle-aged and somewhat jaded intelligence officer working for the British Secret Intelligence Service...

      , 1983 – Classic Cold War spy fiction
      Spy fiction
      Spy fiction, literature concerning the forms of espionage, was a sub-genre derived from the novel during the nineteenth century, which then evolved into a discrete genre before the First World War , when governments established modern intelligence agencies in the early twentieth century...

    • T.H.E. Hill
      Voices Under Berlin: The Tale of a Monterey Mary (novel)
      Voices Under Berlin: The Tale of a Monterey Mary is a 2008 novel by an American Author writing under the pen name of T.H.E. Hill. The action of the novel takes place in Berlin in the mid-1950s, at the beginning of the Cold War, before the construction of the Berlin Wall...

      , The Day Before the Berlin Wall: Could We Have Stopped It? – An Alternate History of Cold War Espionage, 2010 – based on a legend told in Berlin in the 1970s
    • John Marks, The Wall, 1999 NYT Review – an American spy defects to the East just hours before the Wall falls
    • Marcia Preston, West of the Wall (published as Trudy's Promise in North America), 2008 – Left behind in East Berlin, the heroine waits for news of her husband after he makes his escape over the Berlin Wall View the author’s website
    • Peter Schneider
      Peter Schneider (writer)
      Peter Schneider is a German novelist.-Life:Peter Schneider is the son of a conductor and composer. He spent his early childhood in Königsberg and Saxony; from 1945 to 1950 he lived in Grainau near Garmisch-Partenkirchen and from 1950 in Freiburg im Breisgau...

      , The Wall Jumper, 1984 (German: Der Mauerspringer, 1982) – the Wall plays a central role in this novel set in Berlin of the 1980s
  • Music related to the Berlin Wall
    • "Holidays In The Sun
      Holidays in the Sun
      "Holidays in the Sun" is a song by the English punk rock band the Sex Pistols. It was released on 14 October 1977 as the fourth and final single from their only album, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols. A number eight chart hit in the UK, the single proved to be the last with singer...

      ", a song by the English punk rock
      Punk rock
      Punk rock is a rock music genre that developed between 1974 and 1976 in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Rooted in garage rock and other forms of what is now known as protopunk music, punk rock bands eschewed perceived excesses of mainstream 1970s rock...

       band The Sex Pistols prominently mentions the wall, specifically singer Johnny Rotten's fantasy of digging a tunnel under it.
    • Over de muur, a 1984 song by Dutch pop band Klein Orkest, about the differences between East and West Berlin during the period of the Berlin Wall.
  • Art related to the Berlin Wall
    • In the year 1982 the West-German artist ELSNER created about 500 artworks along the former border strip around West-Berlin as part of his work series "Border Injuries". On one of his actions he even tore down a large part of the wall, installed a prepared foil of 3x2m in it and finished the painting there before the border soldiers on patrol could detect him. This performance was even recorded on video. His actions are well-documented both in newspapers from that time and in recent scientific publications.

External links


Images and personal accounts

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