The Berlin Wall was a symbol of the division between East and West Germany during the Cold War. It was built by the German Democratic Republic (GDR) to separate West Berlin from East Germany, with the aim of preventing the migration of East Germans to the more prosperous West. However, did the Berlin Wall completely surround West Berlin? Let’s explore this question in more detail.
The Purpose of the Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall was primarily built to restrict the movement of people between East and West Germany. West Berlin, despite being geographically located within East Germany, was controlled by the Western Allies (United States, Great Britain, France) during the post-World War II division of Berlin. The GDR considered West Berlin a “window to the West” and wanted to prevent its citizens from escaping to the West.
The Construction of the Berlin Wall
The construction of the Berlin Wall began on August 13, 1961. Initially, it consisted of barbed wire fencing, but over time, it was reinforced with concrete walls, guard towers, and other security measures. The wall was approximately 155 kilometers long, with 43 kilometers of it separating West Berlin from East Germany. The remaining length divided the surrounding suburbs of West Berlin from East Germany.
Did the Berlin Wall Completely Surround West Berlin?
No, the Berlin Wall did not completely surround West Berlin. While portions of the wall effectively formed a perimeter around the western part of the city, there were certain areas where West Berlin was directly adjacent to East Germany without any physical barrier. For example, the border between West Berlin and East Germany was not enclosed at the famous checkpoint Charlie, which allowed controlled border crossing.
The Inner-City Border
The inner-city border of West Berlin was not completely enclosed by the Berlin Wall. There were border crossings at various points, such as at Friedrichstraße and Oberbaumbrücke, where people could pass between the two sides. These crossing points were heavily guarded, and individuals had to go through strict checks and obtain proper documentation to cross the border.
The Suburban Border
In the suburbs surrounding West Berlin, the physical border was not continuous. Instead, there were sections of the border that did not have any walls or fences. These areas were known as “green belts,” which were heavily patrolled by the border guards. Although there was no physical barrier, attempting to cross the border without permission was still highly dangerous and illegal.
In conclusion, the Berlin Wall did not completely surround West Berlin. While the wall formed a substantial barrier between East and West Germany, there were exceptions in certain areas. Checkpoint Charlie allowed controlled crossing, and parts of the suburban border did not have physical barriers. Nevertheless, escaping from East Germany or attempting to cross without permission was highly risky and strictly prohibited. The Berlin Wall stood as a symbol of the division between East and West, a reminder of the Cold War era.