If you’ve ever studied history, you might have come across the Berlin Wall during your lessons. This infamous barrier divided Germany’s capital city, Berlin, into two parts: East and West Berlin. But who actually built the Berlin Wall? Let’s explore this question to gain a clearer understanding of this significant event in history.
The Construction of the Berlin Wall
The construction of the Berlin Wall began overnight on August 13, 1961. The East German authorities, more specifically the German Democratic Republic (GDR), were the ones responsible for building and erecting the concrete wall that spanned approximately 156 kilometers (97 miles).
East Germany’s Motivation
So why did East Germany build the wall? There were several factors that led to this decision:
- Escaping to the West: East Germany faced a significant problem of people fleeing to West Germany in search of better living conditions and greater freedoms.
- Brain Drain: Many skilled and educated East Germans were leaving, depriving the country of valuable human resources.
- Political Pressure: The GDR was under pressure from the Soviet Union to take measures to halt the exodus of people to the West.
The construction of the Berlin Wall involved various stages:
- Barbed Wire Fence: Initially, a barbed wire fence was erected that separated East and West Berlin. This temporary measure aimed to prevent further migration.
- Concrete Wall: In the following years, the barbed wire fence was gradually replaced with a high concrete wall, complete with guard towers, anti-vehicle trenches, and other security measures.
- Checkpoint Charlie: A famous checkpoint in Berlin, known as Checkpoint Charlie, served as a designated crossing point for diplomats, military personnel, and foreign visitors.
Impact of the Berlin Wall
The construction of the Berlin Wall had significant implications:
- Division of Families: The wall physically separated families and friends, preventing them from freely interacting and visiting one another.
- Curtailing Freedom: Citizens of East Berlin lost their freedom to travel to the Western part of the city, which was politically and economically prosperous.
- Symbol of Cold War: The Berlin Wall became an iconic symbol of the Cold War and the ideological division between the capitalist West and the communist East.
It was the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) that built the Berlin Wall as a means to stop the flow of people to the Western part of the city. The construction of the wall had profound effects on the lives of the people, the city, and the entire world, serving as a tangible reminder of the struggles and divisions of the Cold War era.