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

Constructing History: The Remarkably Swift Erection of the Berlin Wall

by | Mar 7, 2024 | Original Berlin

When discussing the speed at which the Berlin Wall was built, it is essential to understand the historical context surrounding its construction and the factors that drove its rapid completion.

The Historical Background

Following the end of World War II, Germany was divided into four occupied zones, controlled by the United States, United Kingdom, France, and the Soviet Union. Disagreements between the Soviet Union and the Western Allies deepened, leading to the formation of West Germany (Federal Republic of Germany) and East Germany (German Democratic Republic) in 1949.

Throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, East Germany experienced significant economic challenges, leading to increased emigration, primarily to the prosperous West Germany. To curb the mass exodus of its citizens, the East German government, with Soviet support, decided to construct a physical barrier that would later become known as the Berlin Wall.

The Start of Construction

The construction of the Berlin Wall began on August 13, 1961, with surprising swiftness. While the idea to erect a physical barrier had been contemplated for some time, the actual implementation occurred rapidly over a few hours during the night when the city was least occupied.

The East German government, under the leadership of Walter Ulbricht, initiated the plan, primarily executed by the East German border guards, police units, and construction workers. By the early hours of August 13, the groundwork for the wall was already in progress.

The Wall’s Design

The Berlin Wall was not a single structure but an intricate combination of barriers and fortifications. It was constructed using various materials, including concrete, bricks, barbed wire, and reinforced steel. The wall stood at approximately 12 feet (3.6 meters) in height, with additional security measures such as guard towers and anti-vehicle trenches.

Rapid Implementation

One of the key factors contributing to the swift construction of the Berlin Wall was the element of surprise. The East German government ensured the operation remained secret until the last possible moment. This minimized the chances of public resistance or international intervention.

Another crucial aspect was the division of responsibilities among different parties involved. The East German border guards and police units established a tight security perimeter, while construction workers quickly erected the physical barriers. This division of labor streamlined the construction process and allowed for a remarkably fast completion.

Obstacles and Challenges

The construction of the Berlin Wall faced several obstacles and challenges. First and foremost, it required coordination among various governmental departments, including the Ministry for State Security (Stasi), the Ministry of Construction, and the National People’s Army.

The border guards and police units faced difficulties in managing the increasing unrest among the German population. Protests and attempts to cross the border were met with force, leading to injuries and fatalities. Over time, however, the border control improved, making it even harder for individuals to breach the wall.

The Emotional Impact

The rapid construction of the Berlin Wall had a profound emotional impact on the people of Berlin, both politically and socially. Families and friends were separated, and individuals found themselves cut off from their workplaces, schools, and beloved landmarks. These emotional scars left a lasting imprint on the people affected by the division.

The Wall’s Legacy

The Berlin Wall stood as a symbol of the division between East and West during the Cold War era. Over time, it became an iconic representation of oppression and served as a visible reminder of the struggles faced by those living under authoritarian rule.

While the Berlin Wall has been physically removed, its historical significance remains. It serves as a powerful reminder of the human desire for freedom and the determination of people to overcome barriers, both physical and ideological.

A Testimony to Human Resilience

The swift construction of the Berlin Wall is a testament to the lengths governments will go to control the movement of their citizens. However, it also highlights the resilience of individuals and communities in the face of adversity, inspiring future generations to strive for unity, understanding, and compassion.

In conclusion, the Berlin Wall was constructed with remarkable speed, primarily due to the element of surprise, careful planning, and the division of labor among different parties involved. Its historical impact and the stories of those affected by its construction and existence have forever etched it in the annals of global history.

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