Free Walking Tour Berlin

When: Every day 10am & 12pm every day
Where: The meeting point is in front of the ehemaliges Kaiserliches Postfuhramt Berlin, Oranienburger Straße, 10117 Berlin, Germany, next to the entrance.
Price: Free

Building the Berlin Wall: A Landmark in History

by | Mar 7, 2024 | Original Berlin

The Birth of a Barrier

In the tumultuous years following World War II, Berlin bore the brunt of political tensions between the Soviet Union and the Western Allies. In an attempt to control the mass emigration of East Berliners to West Berlin, the German Democratic Republic (GDR) decided to erect a physical barrier known as the Berlin Wall.

The Construction Phase

The construction of the Berlin Wall began overnight on August 12, 1961, catching the world by surprise. Thousands of GDR soldiers and police officers, equipped with barbed wire, concrete segments, and guard towers, quickly divided the city into two distinct entities. The initial makeshift barricade was eventually reinforced with a more permanent structure.

The creation of the Berlin Wall involved a combination of physical labor and heavy machinery. Construction workers and soldiers meticulously laid the foundation and installed concrete segments, which varied in height from around three to four meters (9.8 to 13.1 feet). The wall spanned a staggering 155 kilometers (96 miles) and encircled West Berlin, cutting through streets, neighborhoods, and even buildings.

Guard towers, spaced at regular intervals, offered surveillance and a vantage point for border guards to prevent any escape attempts. These towers were equipped with floodlights, searchlights, and other surveillance equipment to monitor the wall’s perimeter around the clock.

An Impenetrable Barrier

Upon completion, the Berlin Wall became an imposing structure, designed to deter and prevent unauthorized crossings. Its austere and intimidating appearance served as a stark reminder of the division between East and West.

However, the wall was not a single, continuous structure throughout its entire length. It consisted of different barriers, including walls, fences, and tank traps, each serving a specific purpose to reinforce the separation between the two sides. The inner-city border fortifications incorporated elements like the “Hinterland Wall” and the “Death Strip,” creating additional obstacles for potential escapees.

The Human Impact

The existence of the Berlin Wall had a profound impact on the lives of the people on both sides.

Suppression and Isolation

For the residents of East Berlin, the wall symbolized more than just a physical barrier. It represented the suppression of personal freedoms, restricting their ability to seek better opportunities or reunite with family and friends in the West.

Overnight, families and loved ones were separated, unable to see or communicate with each other for decades. The wall divided not only the city but also the hearts and minds of its inhabitants, instilling a sense of isolation and despair.

Escape Attempts and Tragic Consequences

Despite the risks involved, many East Berliners attempted daring escapes, hoping to leave behind the oppressive regime. Some tried climbing over the wall, while others dug tunnels or used secret passages. These brave individuals faced grave risks, including imprisonment, injury, or even death at the hands of border guards.

The wall became a symbol of tragedy as stories of those who perished while attempting to cross made international headlines. Their sacrifice serves as a reminder of the lengths people were willing to go to attain freedom.

The Fall of the Wall

As the years passed, dissatisfaction with the GDR and demands for change grew within East Germany. On November 9, 1989, an unexpected announcement by a spokesperson of the GDR government marked a turning point in history. East Berliners were granted permission to travel freely to the West, effectively rendering the wall obsolete.

Spontaneous celebrations erupted on both sides of the wall as jubilant crowds descended upon the once-divided border. Many seized the opportunity to reunite with loved ones, explore the previously forbidden West, and take part in a momentous chapter of history.

The Aftermath

The fall of the Berlin Wall paved the way for the reunification of East and West Germany. Over time, the wall was dismantled, and the physical scars slowly healed. Today, remnants of the wall serve as powerful reminders of the city’s turbulent past and the resilience of its people.

The construction and subsequent fall of the Berlin Wall was a defining moment in history, symbolizing the division of a city and the struggle for freedom. While the physical structure is no more, its legacy lives on, reminding us of the importance of unity, perseverance, and respecting the rights and aspirations of all people.

Thank you for reading. If you're inspired by the stories of Berlin and want to delve deeper, why not join us on our Free Berlin Walking Tour? It's a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the city's rich history and vibrant culture. We look forward to welcoming you soon.


  • 3.5 hours walking tour
  • Berlin’s major highlights
  • Brandenburg Gate
  • Reichstag and Berlin Wall
  • Historical sites

Free Walking Tour Berlin

When: Every day 10am & 12pm every day
Where: The meeting point is in front of the ehemaliges Kaiserliches Postfuhramt Berlin, Oranienburger Straße, 10117 Berlin, Germany, next to the entrance.
Price: Free