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

Construction of the Berlin Wall: A Monument of Division

by | Mar 7, 2024 | Original Berlin

Introduction

The Berlin Wall, standing as a symbol of the Cold War era, was a physical barrier that divided East and West Berlin from 1961 to 1989. Erected by the German Democratic Republic (GDR), it was more than just a wall; it became a powerful symbol of political and ideological separation. In this article, we will explore the key aspects of how the Berlin Wall was built, including its purpose, construction methods, and the impact it had on people’s lives.

The Need for the Wall

In the aftermath of World War II, Germany was divided into four occupation zones controlled by the Allied powers: the United States, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and France. Over time, tension between the Soviets and the Western Allies grew, resulting in the formation of two separate German states: the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) and the German Democratic Republic (East Germany).

The increasing number of East Germans fleeing to the West, seeking political freedom and economic opportunities, was a cause of concern for the GDR government. To stem the mass exodus, the decision was made to construct a physical barrier between East and West Berlin.

The Construction Process

The construction of the Berlin Wall began during the night of August 12-13, 1961, catching the world by surprise. The GDR, fearing foreign intervention, aimed to complete the wall swiftly and efficiently. The process involved several key elements:

1. Barbed Wire Fence

In the initial phase, a barbed wire fence was erected to impede the flow of people fleeing East Berlin. This makeshift barricade was quickly replaced by a more permanent structure.

2. Concrete Wall

The barbed wire fence was soon replaced by a concrete wall, reinforced by steel girders. Initially, it stood at around 3.6 meters (12 feet) tall, but over time, the height increased to deter escape attempts.

3. Watchtowers and Border Patrol

Border guards were stationed along the wall, patrolling the area day and night to prevent any unauthorized movement. Watchtowers equipped with searchlights and alarm systems were strategically placed to enhance surveillance.

4. Anti-vehicle Trenches

To impede any attempts to breach the wall using vehicles, anti-vehicle trenches were dug along the border. These trenches were filled with water, making it difficult for vehicles to cross.

5. No Man’s Land

A wide area known as “No Man’s Land” was established on the Eastern side of the wall. This area was heavily fortified with additional fencing, anti-vehicle obstacles, and guard patrols.

The Impact on People’s Lives

The construction of the Berlin Wall had a profound impact on the lives of people living in Berlin. Families and friends were suddenly separated, and individuals found themselves cut off from their places of work and education. The wall created a physical and emotional barrier between loved ones, leading to immense personal and societal suffering.

Attempts to escape across the wall were met with strict reprisals. Guard dogs, tripwires, and armed guards became constant reminders of the risks involved in attempting to cross to the other side. Many lost their lives in desperate attempts to reach freedom.

The wall also had a significant psychological impact, further reinforcing the division between East and West. It served as a constant reminder of the ideological divide between communism and capitalism, highlighting the stark contrast between the two political systems.

Conclusion

The Berlin Wall, conceived as a means to halt the exodus of East Germans, ultimately became an immovable symbol of division. Its construction involved a multistage process, with concrete walls, watchtowers, and extensive fortifications. The emotional and psychological impact on those affected by the wall was profound, leading to enduring suffering and personal tragedy.

Fortunately, the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, marked a turning point in history, symbolizing the end of the Cold War era and the striving for unity. The memory of the Berlin Wall serves as a reminder of the importance of freedom, human rights, and the pursuit of a peaceful and inclusive future.

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.

WHAT TO EXPECT

  • 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