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What Did the East German Government Call the Berlin Wall?

by | Mar 7, 2024 | World War Tour Berlin

The Berlin Wall was a divisive barrier erected by the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) to separate East Berlin from West Berlin during the period of the Cold War. It stood as a symbol of the ideological divide that existed between the Eastern Bloc and Western countries. While commonly referred to as the Berlin Wall, the term used by the East German government to describe this barrier was “Antifaschistischer Schutzwall,” which translates to English as “Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart.”

The Purpose and Construction of the Berlin Wall

The construction of the Berlin Wall began on August 13, 1961, and it was officially established as a heavily fortified border between East and West Berlin. The East German government justified the construction of the wall as a protective measure against “fascist agents” and “western imperialism.”

At its core, the Berlin Wall served as a physical manifestation of the Iron Curtain, a metaphorical political and ideological divide that separated Eastern Bloc countries from the rest of Europe. It aimed to prevent the mass emigration of citizens from East Germany to the more prosperous West Germany and to halt the spread of capitalist ideals.

The Elements of the Berlin Wall

1. Concrete Wall

The main component of the Berlin Wall was a massive concrete barrier that stretched for approximately 155 kilometers (96 miles). It stood at an average height of 3.6 meters (12 feet) and had a thickness of 1.2 meters (4 feet). The wall was covered in smooth concrete on the side facing East Berlin to deter any climbing attempts.

2. Watchtowers and Border Guards

Alongside the wall, numerous watchtowers were strategically positioned to monitor the border and watch for any escape attempts. Armed border guards were also stationed along the wall with orders to shoot anyone attempting to cross it illegally.

3. Anti-Vehicle Trenches

To impede vehicular access to the wall, anti-vehicle trenches were dug on the Eastern side of the barrier. These trenches were filled with water, making them challenging to cross with any type of land vehicle.

4. Signal Fences and Barbed Wire

Signal fences and barbed wire were installed on the Eastern side of the wall as an additional physical deterrent. These obstacles were designed to slow down potential escapees and make it more difficult for them to reach the wall or cross the border undetected.

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

After 28 years of separation, the Berlin Wall finally fell on November 9, 1989. The collapse of the wall was a result of a series of events, including changes in political leadership, mass protests, and the easing of travel restrictions.

The fall of the Berlin Wall symbolized the end of the Cold War era and the reunification of East and West Germany. It was a momentous event that brought immense joy and freedom to the German people, while also signifying a significant shift in global politics.

Conclusion

The Berlin Wall, known as “Antifaschistischer Schutzwall” by the East German government, stood as a physical and ideological barrier between East and West Berlin. It was built to prevent the influence of Western ideas and to control the movement of its citizens. The fall of the Berlin Wall marked a defining moment in history, representing the triumph of freedom and the reunification of a divided nation.

What Did the East German Government Call the Berlin Wall?