The Berlin Wall, also called the Iron Curtain, was built to separate the East and West sides of the city of Berlin. This wall was built to stop the people of the Eastern side from running away from the communist ruling that controlled their side. The Berlin Wall was built in 1961 and continued for many years to be a physical representation of the Cold War between the communism in the East and the democracies of the West.
The division of East and West Germany
When Germany was defeated in World War II, the Allied powers which were France, the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union, gained divided control over Germany. While the first three countries wanted to form a free democrat government to rule Germany with capitalism for its economy, the Soviet Union had other plans. The communist power wanted to extend its reach through controlling Germany. This is why a dividing border was created between East and West Germany.
The division of Berlin
A problem remained in the capital of Germany, Berlin. The city was, just like the country, divided between the four countries, however, geographically, it was located in the Eastern part of Germany, the part the Soviets controlled. To solve this problem, Berlin was split in half, a capitalist free western side and a communist Eastern side.
Officially, the border splitting Germany banned people from traveling between East and West Germany. Berlin, on the other hand, was just one city split in half! People could come and go between the Western-ruled side and the communist-ruled side via buses and other modes of public transportation. The only problem was that people didn’t go back and forth between both sides, they only ran to the capitalist, or democratic, side!
The Germans are running away
German citizens started to take transportation to the western side of Berlin and, from there, run away to western Germany. This was because the three western countries had started rebuilding western Germany while the Soviet Union was the typical occupation force, drying up the resources of eastern Germany for its own benefit. By 1961, about 20% of the people from East Germany had run away to West Germany. As a result, the Soviet Union lost many talented people and valuable human resources.
To prevent the people of East Berlin from trying to escape communism, the Soviet Union built a wall across the entire border splitting the city completely. People who were once neighbors living on the same street now faced a giant, ugly, 12-foot-high wall that took away half of their city and life as they knew it. The entire wall was built in two days, August 12th and 13th of 1961. The people of Eastern Germany named it the Wall of Shame.
Tear down that wall!
The Berlin Wall continued to separate families, friends, and neighbors for over 25 years until the Soviet Union started to suffer the from the results of corruption and bad decision making. This forced their last leader, Mikhail Gorbachev to take action to correct his countries’ situation. As a somewhat open-minded communist leader, Gorbachev responded to President Reagan’s request in his 1987 speech to take down the Berlin Wall. Finally, the city of Berlin became whole again in 1989.
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