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: Dividing a City

by | Mar 7, 2024 | Original Berlin

The Berlin Wall was a significant symbol of the Cold War era, separating East and West Berlin from 1961 to 1989. Erected by the German Democratic Republic (GDR), commonly known as East Germany, the wall was a physical barrier that kept people from fleeing communist East Berlin to democratic West Berlin.

Who Initiated the Construction?

The decision to construct the Berlin Wall was primarily driven by the GDR’s leadership, under the strong influence of the Soviet Union. While the wall itself was built by the East German government, it is important to highlight that it was ultimately the result of broader political tensions between the world’s superpowers.

The Soviet Role

The Soviet Union strongly supported the construction of the Berlin Wall. It aimed to prevent an increasing exodus of skilled workers, intellectuals, and professionals from East Germany to West Germany, which was causing a brain drain and weakening the socialist regime.

East German Government’s Motivation

The GDR government, led by Walter Ulbricht, sought to consolidate its power and control over its population. The wall provided a physical solution to the mass migration problem and symbolized the division between the capitalist West and communist East.

The Planning and Execution

The construction of the Berlin Wall began on the night of August 12, 1961. It took the East German government by surprise as it was initially announced as a “temporary” measure to manage the flow of people. However, the wall quickly became a permanent fixture, spanning approximately 96 miles.

The Construction Process

The wall was built using a variety of materials, including concrete segments, barbed wire, and guard towers. Its purpose was not only to physically separate the two sides of Berlin but also to create a death strip, an area where anyone attempting to escape would face deadly consequences.

The Concrete Wall

The primary structure was a concrete wall, often referred to as the “inner wall.” It was built using large interlocking segments, effectively barricading the border between East and West. The wall stood at approximately 12 feet tall and was augmented with additional security measures.

Barbed Wire and Guard Towers

To further fortify the barrier, the GDR installed barbed wire fencing and strategically positioned guard towers. These towers housed armed guards who monitored the border and were instructed to shoot anyone attempting to cross illegally.

The Impact of the Berlin Wall

The Berlin Wall had significant political, social, and economic consequences for both sides of the divide.

Division of Families and Communities

One of the most devastating consequences of the wall was the separation of families and close-knit communities. Overnight, loved ones were torn apart, and neighborhoods were divided, resulting in emotional pain and severed social connections.

Economic Consequences

The construction of the wall affected the economic landscape of both East and West Berlin. While West Berlin experienced economic growth, East Berlin and the whole of East Germany faced economic decline due to brain drain, loss of skilled labor, and limited access to Western markets.

Symbol of the Cold War

The Berlin Wall became an iconic representation of the ideological divide between communism and capitalism, symbolizing the broader Cold War conflict between the Soviet Union and its allies and the United States and its allies. It stood as a stark reminder of the conflicting ideologies that dominated the world during that era.

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

After almost three decades of segregation, the Berlin Wall finally fell on November 9, 1989. The event marked a turning point in history and represented the fall of communism in Eastern Europe.


The construction of the Berlin Wall was primarily initiated by the East German government, backed by the Soviet Union. It had far-reaching consequences for both sides of the divide, forever altering the lives of those impacted by its existence. The fall of the wall has become a symbol of hope, reunification, and the triumph of freedom over oppression.

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