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

Discovering the Motives Behind the Creation of the Berlin Wall

by | Mar 7, 2024 | Original Berlin

Immortalized in history as a monumental symbol of division, the Berlin Wall stood for 28 years, stretching across the heart of a once-divided city. So, why was the Berlin Wall built in the first place?

Historical Background

To grasp the reasons behind the construction of the Berlin Wall, we must delve into the tumultuous history of post-World War II Europe. After the defeat of Nazi Germany, the victorious powers – the United States, the Soviet Union, Great Britain, and France – divided Germany into four occupation zones, each controlled by one of the powers.

The city of Berlin, situated deep within the territory of East Germany, was also divided into separate sectors, reflecting the alliances between these powers. Over time, ideological differences between the Soviet Union and the Western powers intensified, sparking the Cold War.

Escaping the East

As the contrasts between the Communist-ruled East Germany (known as the German Democratic Republic or GDR) and the democratic West grew more apparent, a considerable number of East Germans started fleeing to West Germany, primarily through Berlin. This migration swiftly became a thorn in the side of the GDR government.

Between 1949 and 1961, around 2.6 million East Germans emigrated to the West, representing a massive brain drain and an economic loss for the GDR. Furthermore, the constant exodus of skilled workers highlighted the comparative shortcomings and lack of freedoms experienced in the East.

The “Brain Drain” Phenomenon

East Germany, like many other Soviet-controlled nations, faced a significant loss of skilled professionals. Engineers, doctors, teachers, and other educated individuals sought the better opportunities and personal freedoms offered in the West, diminishing the strength of East Germany’s workforce and intellectual capabilities.

To curb this mass emigration and regain control over their population, the East German leadership began to explore stricter measures.

Escalating Tensions

The division of Germany and Berlin had become a contentious point between the Eastern and Western powers. As migration from East to West increased, so did tensions between the GDR and its allies, particularly the Soviet Union, on one side, and the Western powers, particularly the United States, on the other.

The GDR sought to gain political leverage and stronger bargaining power by stopping its citizens from leaving. East German leader Walter Ulbricht famously declared in 1961, “Nobody has the intention of building a wall” – a statement that would soon be contradicted by reality.

The Construction of the Wall

In the early hours of August 13, 1961, East German troops, supported by the Soviet Union, erected a physical barrier in Berlin. Initially, it was a makeshift arrangement involving barbed wire and barricades, but it soon evolved into a heavily fortified concrete wall, dividing the city into East and West Berlin.

Officially known as the “Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart” by the GDR, the Berlin Wall was presented as a necessary measure to protect Eastern Germany from “fascist elements” and sabotage initiated by Western powers. In reality, its primary purpose was sealing off East Berlin and preventing the exodus of its citizens to the West.

Impact on Life in Berlin

The Berlin Wall brought radical changes to the daily lives of Berliners. Families were separated, friendships were shattered, and entire communities were torn apart. The wall stood as a potent symbol of the Cold War, embodying the iron curtain that divided Europe for decades.

Over the years, attempts to escape across the Wall were met with harsh consequences, including imprisonment, injury, and even death. The Wall became a stark reminder of the limitations on personal freedoms endured by those living in East Germany.

A Testimony to Human Resilience

Despite the immense challenges imposed by the Wall, people on both sides refused to lose hope. Numerous creative and daring escape attempts were made, ranging from digging tunnels to constructing homemade hot air balloons.

The fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, became a momentous event in history, symbolizing the end of the Cold War era and paving the way for German reunification. Today, remnants of the Wall serve as a poignant reminder of the resilience and determination of those who yearned for freedom.

In Conclusion

The Berlin Wall was built primarily in response to the mass exodus of East Germans to the democratic West. The GDR leadership sought to control its population and regain political leverage by physically separating East and West Berlin. However, the Wall stood as a harsh reminder of the limitations imposed on personal freedoms and became a poignant symbol of the Cold War.

As we explore history, we must learn from the mistakes of the past, understanding the importance of freedom, unity, and open dialogue. The fall of the Berlin Wall serves as a reminder of the power of hope and the resilience of the human spirit.

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