What in the World (14)

The Berlin Wall

13th August 1961

Following the end of WWII Berlin was a city isolated in socialist East Germany/the German Democratic Republic.  Berlin was divided into four sectors, controlled by USA, UK, France and the fourth by the Soviet Union.

March 1948 and the Allies decided to unite their 3 occupation Zones into one economic unit.

In retaliation the Soviet Occupation force began a blockade of the land trade routes in an attempt to force the Western Allies to give up jurisdiction.

For nearly a year supplies dropped from US planes sustained more than 2 million people in W. Berlin.

By 1961, 2.5 million, people had left E.Germany to live in the West.  To stop the exodus a barbed wire barrier was erected overnight.  Berliners woke up on the 13th August 1961 to find themselves separated from family, friends and even work if they were trapped on the wrong side.

Over the following months the barrier was strengthened into a concrete wall topped with barbed wire and manned by armed border guards.  It was more than 87 miles long and surrounded West Berlin entirely.

By 1989 Europe was shedding communism.  Gorbachev was advocating ‘glasnost’ and ‘perestroika’.  The Soviet communist bloc was breaking up.   

Nov 1989 and half a million people gathered in East Berlin for a mass protest.  Five days later the authorities decided to ease travel restrictions between East and West Berlin.  The news was published but misunderstood and thousands flocked to the border crossing.  To avoid casualties the barriers were opened and East Berliners flocked through to the West. 

German reunification formally took place in October 1990.

The wall was completely demolished by Nov 1991.

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