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 Iron Curtain: The Reasons Behind East Berlin’s Infamous Wall

by | Mar 7, 2024 | Original Berlin

The Historical Background

The construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961 was a significant event during the Cold War, a period of political tension between the United States and the Soviet Union. At the end of World War II in 1945, Germany was divided into four occupation zones controlled by the victorious Allied powers: the United States, the Soviet Union, Great Britain, and France. Berlin, the capital, was also divided into four sectors.

Over time, ideological differences emerged between the Soviet Union and the other three Western powers, leading to the formation of two separate German states in 1949: the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) and the German Democratic Republic (East Germany).

The Reasons behind the Wall

1. Economic Factors

One of the primary reasons behind the construction of the Berlin Wall was the massive flow of skilled workers and professionals from East to West Germany. The high rate of emigration posed a significant problem for the East German government, as it depleted the East of its most valuable assets.

By building the wall, East Germany sought to halt the brain drain and retain its skilled labor force. The government aimed to strengthen its economy and display the success of socialism compared to the capitalist West.

2. The Ideological Divide

The Berlin Wall served as a powerful symbol of the ideological divide between two opposing systems: communism in the East and democracy in the West. East Germany was a Soviet satellite state, tightly controlled by the ruling party, the Socialist Unity Party (SED).

The wall was designed to prevent East German citizens from fleeing to the more prosperous and politically free West. The Soviet Union and East German officials argued that the wall was necessary to protect the socialist society from the corrupting influence of Western capitalism, imperialism, and propaganda.

3. Political Control and Repression

The wall also helped the East German government maintain tight control over its population. Dissent and opposition were stifled, and anyone attempting to leave the country faced severe consequences. The wall acted as a physical barrier, making escape nearly impossible.

The ruling party, through the Ministry for State Security (Stasi), employed an extensive surveillance network, placing informants within communities to root out dissidents. The construction of the wall further fortified the government’s ability to surveil and control its citizens.

The Impact and Significance

1. Families Separated

The construction of the Berlin Wall had a devastating human impact, tearing families apart. Sudden separation left loved ones severed, unable to reunite. Many East Berliners woke up one morning to find their friends, family members, and neighbors trapped on the other side.

For nearly three decades, families endured the hardship of separation until the wall fell in 1989. The reunification that followed was celebrated worldwide but left lasting scars and emotional trauma on those affected.

2. Symbol of the Cold War

The Berlin Wall became an iconic symbol of the division between the East and the West during the Cold War. It represented the struggle between communism and democracy, between oppression and freedom.

Images of people attempting daring escapes under the watchful eyes of armed guards and the eventual dismantling of the wall remain powerful reminders of the human desire for liberty and the resilience of the human spirit.

3. End of an Era

The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 marked the beginning of the end of the Cold War. It was a pivotal moment that led to the reunification of East and West Germany and symbolized the crumbling of the entire communist bloc.

The wall’s destruction paved the way for the creation of a new political landscape in Europe, with the power dynamic shifting and the rapid dismantling of the Soviet Union following suit. It marked the triumph of freedom over oppression and represented the hope for a more peaceful world.


The construction of the Berlin Wall by East Germany was driven by economic, ideological, and political factors. It was intended to prevent the brain drain, reinforce socialist ideals, and exert control over the population. The wall’s impact was significant, both on the international stage and on the lives of those directly affected. Its fall signaled the end of the Cold War and the possibility of a more united and peaceful 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.


  • 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