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When Did East Berlin Become Communist?

by | Mar 7, 2024 | World War Tour Berlin

Understanding the history of East Berlin is crucial in comprehending the significant political shift that took place in Germany. In this blog post, we will explore the timeline of when East Berlin became communist and its impact on the city’s development.

The Division of Berlin

Following World War II, Berlin was divided into four zones, each controlled by the Allied powers: the United States, the Soviet Union, Great Britain, and France. These divisions were initially intended to be temporary, but as tensions escalated between the United States and the Soviet Union, the split became more permanent.

The eastern part of Berlin, which fell under Soviet control, eventually became the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and was commonly referred to as East Berlin. The western part, controlled by the other Allied powers, became the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) and was known as West Berlin.

East Berlin’s Journey to Communism

After the division, East Berlin began its transformation into a communist state. The process can be traced back to the establishment of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED) in 1946, which aimed to consolidate power and implement socialist policies.

However, it was not until 1949 that East Berlin officially became a communist territory. This occurred when the GDR was declared as a separate state with East Berlin as its capital. The division of Berlin was solidified with the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961, separating East and West Berlin physically and symbolically.

The Influence of Soviet Control

The Soviet Union played a significant role in shaping the political landscape of East Berlin. The GDR government was heavily influenced by Soviet policies and adopted many aspects of communist ideology, including central planning of the economy and restrictions on individual freedoms.

The Life in East Berlin

Living conditions in East Berlin varied over the years, but it is important to note that this period was characterized by restrictions and surveillance. The government tightly controlled information, limited travel to the West, and implemented strict ideological conformity.

Despite these challenges, East Berlin did experience some advancements, particularly in education and healthcare. The government heavily invested in these areas, resulting in a relatively high literacy rate and accessible medical care for the population.

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

The Berlin Wall stood as a physical barrier between East and West Berlin for nearly three decades. However, as the Cold War started to thaw and pressure from the East German population increased, the GDR government finally allowed people to travel freely between the two sides.

On November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall was opened, marking a significant turning point. The fall of the wall not only symbolized the end of the division, but it also paved the way for the reunification of East and West Germany, which officially took place on October 3, 1990.


The transition of East Berlin into a communist state began in 1949, following the establishment of the German Democratic Republic. The division of Berlin was intensified with the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961, creating a physical barrier between East and West.

Living under communism presented challenges, but East Berlin also saw advancements in certain areas. Ultimately, with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany, the era of communism in East Berlin came to an end.

When Did East Berlin Become Communist?