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

How Did the West React to the Berlin Wall?

by | Mar 7, 2024 | Walking Tour

The Berlin Wall, erected in 1961, had a profound impact on the political landscape of Germany and Europe as a whole. It symbolized the divide between the Western powers and the Soviet Union, and its construction brought about significant changes in international relations. In this article, we will explore the reactions of the West to the Berlin Wall and how these reactions shaped the course of history.

The Initial Shock and Condemnation

When news of the Berlin Wall spread, the Western powers were taken aback. The sudden division of a once-unified city shocked the world and sparked outrage among political leaders. From the United States to France and the United Kingdom, condemnations and calls for the wall’s removal were swift and unequivocal.

For the Western powers, the construction of the Berlin Wall was seen as a clear violation of the agreements made during the Potsdam Conference in 1945. It was seen as an assault on the principles of freedom and democracy that the West stood for.

The Response from the United States

The United States, as the key proponent of democracy during the Cold War, responded strongly to the Berlin Wall. President John F. Kennedy, in his now-famous “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech delivered in 1963, offered unwavering support to the people of Berlin and condemned the barrier as an “ugly symbol of tyranny.”

Following Kennedy’s speech, the United States implemented several measures to show its support for West Berlin. The airlift during the early days of the wall’s construction, which saw American planes fly supplies and provisions into the city, demonstrated the determination of the West to support the people of Berlin in the face of adversity.

Political and Economic Sanctions

In addition to public condemnations, the Western powers imposed political and economic sanctions on East Germany and the Soviet Union. These sanctions aimed to isolate East Germany from the international community, economically weakening it and putting pressure on the authorities to dismantle the wall.

The West also introduced stricter travel restrictions and visa requirements for East German citizens, effectively limiting their freedom of movement. This limitation on individual freedom further highlighted the oppressive nature of the Berlin Wall.

Hope and Solidarity

While the Berlin Wall seemed like a stark symbol of division, it also became a symbol of hope and solidarity against the Communist regime. Western citizens organized demonstrations, rallies, and protests in support of the people of Berlin.

Notably, the annual candlelight vigil at the Brandenburg Gate, organized by West Berliners during Christmas, became a powerful display of solidarity with those living on the other side of the wall. This tradition continued until the wall fell in 1989.

Cultural Exchange and Diplomatic Efforts

Despite the physical barrier, the West sought creative ways to maintain cultural links and support the people of East Berlin. One example is the “Free University of Berlin,” established in West Berlin to provide accessible education to students from both sides of the wall.

Diplomatic efforts were also made by the Western powers to negotiate with the Soviet Union for the removal of the wall. However, it was not until 1989, when political changes within the Eastern Bloc were already underway, that the Berlin Wall was finally demolished.

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 marked a turning point in history. The momentous event was met with jubilation in the West, symbolizing the end of the Cold War and the reunification of Germany. It was a testament to the resilience and determination of the people who had longed for freedom and an end to division.


The construction of the Berlin Wall generated a strong reaction from the West. It was initially met with shock and condemnation, followed by political and economic sanctions. Yet, alongside these measures, the West also demonstrated solidarity, support, and a commitment to maintaining cultural ties with the people of East Berlin. The fall of the Berlin Wall marked a triumph of freedom over oppression and remains an enduring symbol of hope and unity.

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