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

The Construction of the Berlin Wall: A Monument of Division

by | Mar 7, 2024 | Original Berlin

The Background

The Berlin Wall was a physical and ideological barrier constructed by the German Democratic Republic (GDR) that separated East and West Berlin from 1961 until 1989. Its construction deeply entrenched the division between the communist East and the capitalist West. To understand how long it took to build the Berlin Wall, it’s important first to examine the historical context and events leading up to its construction.

The Rapid Construction

On August 13, 1961, barbed wire fences were hastily erected throughout Berlin, dividing streets, parks, and neighborhoods. This initial construction was swiftly followed by the placement of concrete elements to fortify the barrier. Within hours, the makeshift wall began to take shape as a physical manifestation of the Iron Curtain.

Phase One: Barbed Wire Fences

In the first phase of construction, the GDR’s border guards installed barbed wire fences stretching approximately 155 kilometers (96 miles) around West Berlin, effectively closing off all access points.

Phase Two: Concrete Elements

The second phase involved the placement of reinforced concrete segments, ultimately transforming the barbed wire fences into a solid, impenetrable structure. These segments, known as “Grenzmauer 75,” were about 3.6 meters (11.8 feet) tall and weighed approximately 2.75 tons each.

The Timeframe

From the initial construction of barbed wire fences to the completion of the concrete wall, the Berlin Wall took approximately two weeks to build. This incredibly rapid timeline highlights the urgency and determination of the GDR government to establish a physical barrier that would prevent its citizens from escaping to West Berlin.

Significance and Impact

The Berlin Wall had profound social, political, and economic effects on both sides of the divide. Here are some key factors to consider:

Isolation and Control

The construction of the Berlin Wall completely isolated East Berlin from the West. It severed families, separated friends, and tore communities apart. The wall served as a symbol of the GDR’s control over its citizens and their restricted freedoms.

Escape Attempts

Although the wall was intended to prevent East Germans from escaping to the West, it didn’t completely halt escape attempts. Over the years, some individuals managed to evade the heavily guarded border using creative and daring methods.

Impact on East Berlin

East Berliners faced immense challenges living under the regime’s strict control and surveillance. The wall significantly limited their access to better job opportunities, democratic principles, and personal freedom.

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

After 28 years of dividing the city, the Berlin Wall finally fell on November 9, 1989. The catalyst for this historic event was a series of peaceful protests in East Berlin and the gradual liberalization of policies in the Soviet Union.

Conclusion

The construction of the Berlin Wall took approximately two weeks, marking the official physical division between East and West Berlin. Not only did it physically separate the city, but it also highlighted the enormous ideological differences between communism and capitalism. The fall of the wall in 1989 became a symbol of hope and unity, bringing an end to a long period of division and marking the reunification of Germany.

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