The Berlin Wall
After World War II, the Yalta Conference confirmed that Germany was to be divided into four sectors:the American, British, and French in the west, and the Soviet Union in the east. From June 24, 1948 to May 12, 1949, the Soviets blockaded Berlin’s Western side from the Eastern side. This is what we call the Berlin Wall. In 1948, during construction of the Wall, the Soviet Union cut off all rail water supply to the West, Western Berlin. During the summer of 1952, the border (Interzonegrenze) between Western Berlin and the Soviet Sector (Eastern Berlin). As people began crossing the wall with rope, the Soviets outlawed the sale of rope or twine and anyone breaking this law would be immediately arrested. At this, the Soviets also decided to make a 30-100 meter boder zone, where the residents were confined to strick controls and harsh penalties. They also set up automatic firing systems on the wall for further “protection”.
In 1961, the last gate, the Brandenburg Gate is closed. Now all crossing points for all Berliners are closed. It wouldn’e be until two years later that any type of crossing is opened. The Berlin Wall separated family, freinds, and a nation for over 28 years.
Early in the morning of sunday, August 13, 1961, the Berlin Wall began contruction under the leadership of Erich Honecker to block off Eastern Berlin from Western Berlin with barbed wire and anti-tank obsticals. Streets were torn up, barricades made, tanks gathered at crucial areas, and the subway and local railway systems were interupted. People of Eastern Berlin were no longer allowed to go into Western Berlin at all. In the following days, construction took place and stone barricades were replaced by a solid wall.
The wall was 96 miles long, over 14 feet tall, and lined with other obstacles. There was 42 miles of wire mesh fencing, 65 miles of anti-vehical trenches. It also had 20 soldier bunkers and 302 watch towers from which 3200 people were arrested, 160 killed, and 120 injured, while 5000 managed to escape the soldiers. The was in segments with a luminated area on the eastern side know as the watch area, but more commonly known as the “death area” (refugees reaching this area were shot without warning). Beyond this was an anti-vehical trentch, patrol tacks, watchdogs, watch towers, bunkers, automatic firing systems, then a second wall.
The border cut through192 streets, about half to Eastern Berlin, and the rest to the Britain sector. Many escape tunnles were dug under the wall. Police found many of these tunnles and closed many of them off. After alot of controversy, and discussion of a new travel law, Leader of Berlin’s Communist Party announed in unclear words that the border would be opened for “private trips abroad”. Little later, celebrations took place at the Brandenburg Gate and at the Kurfurstendamm in West Berlin.
On November 10th, demolition began with the intention of creating new border crossings. By December 22nd, 2 new border crossings had opened to the public for free travel of private parties only. So-called “wall-woodpeckers” hammered pieces of the wall out, that were sold as suveniers. Later, larger segments and chunks were donated to sold.
In 1990, Germany is reunited, the Berlin Wall is completely torn down. The allies controling the contries all declared their freedom, but the Soviets didnt declare the Soviet Sectors independence until 1991. In 1997, a large red line was painted in place of where the Berlin Wall stood.
Finally, the Germans had been reunited after 28 years of suppression and seperation. Large celebrations took place as people stood with excitement as they watched the bulldozers and crans tear the final pieces down.