Essay on Berlin Wall

This essay has a total of 1257 words and 6 pages.


Berlin Wall




The Berlin Wall, built in August of 1961, was s physical symbol of the political and emotional divisions of Germany.
The Wall was built because of a long lasting suspicion among the Soviet Union on one side
and Western Europe and the United States on the other. Once World War II was over, these
Allies no longer had a common purpose to hold them together. Their differences became less
hidden and more irreconcilable. The Western Allies quickly realized they couldn't "kick a
dog when its already down", and that Germany was in desperate need of help." Therefore,
the Allies' aim was to rebuild Germany's economy. The Soviet Union disagreed with this
plan immensely, and instead they became busy with setting up Communist dictatorships in
their conquered areas, such as the zone of East Germany. This major difference among these
powers marked the beginning of the Cold War. The war was not of physical battle, but of
international diplomacy. Germany now became the prize struggle between enemies.

In response to the numbers of people who fled the communist world to the free world, East
Germany built a wall that cut across the heart of Berlin. It was an improvised structure,
thrown up overnight. In the months and years to follow, it would harden into a massive
barrier of concrete blocks, barbed wire, machine gun towers, and minefields. The Wall
became 103 miles long, and it was approximately ten to thirteen feet high. It cut across
193 roads, and it sealed West Berlin not only from the rest of the city to the east, but
from all of East Germany. "A second wall was eventually built 100 miles to the east of the
original wall. 293 watchtowers, 66 miles of antivechicle trenches, hundreds of killer
guard dogs, countless searchlights, alarms, and self-firing guns were all used to keep
East Germans form leaving." (Mirabile 7)

In the night of August 12, Walter Ulbricht of East Germany, had his troops unroll their
barbed wire "to protect the frontier…from American spies and the criminal slave traders of
West Germany." (Galante 1) On the morning of the 13th, Berliners awoke to discover
telephones line dead between West and East Berlin and train services at a standstill.
Families were separated, for the Wall had run through parks, public areas, and even
buildings.

The Wall did not hold them back from freedom. According to reports, official figures show
that more than 400 people died trying to flee. Human-rights activists say that the true
figure could be closer to 800. Many of these escape attempts were dramatic. People leapt
form windows, tunneled and crept through sewers, rammed through the gates in steel-plated
trucks, crawled through mud, and swam the icy waters of the city's rivers and canals. Even
though the Wall created international crises, divided families, and spawned villains and
gangsters, it also produced its heroes. Brave men and women who lived in the shadow of the
Wall found ways to elude Communism.

Escape soon became harder. The barbed wire was replaced with concrete slabs. Waterways
were blocked by underground fences. Windows along the borders had bricks instead of glass.
Getting across became increasingly difficult, and it required ingenuity as well as
determination.

In the first year alone, 14 attempts were made to breach the wall through driving into it.
Many drove through legal checkpoints. Twice, East Germans escaped in a car so low that it
could be driven right under the horizontal bars at the crossing points. Vertical bars were
added to make it even more impossible. Many escaped in cleverly designed hiding places in
cars driven by West Germans who could cross the border legally. Three escaped using Soviet
Union military uniforms that a friend had sewn for them. Peter Fechter, an eighteen year
old boy, was one of the first who tried to scale the wall outright. The East Germans shot
him down while West Berliners heard Fechter's cries for help for nearly an hour.

Escapees tried to get under the Wall using sewer systems. (It soon became blocked by
watchful East German police) In 1962, NBC, the American Public television network,
provided funds to dig a tunnel from Bernauer St., in East Berlin, to Schoenholzer St., in
West Berlin. "That September, the TV network filmed the escape of fifty-six refugees
before flooding shut down the tunnel." (Mirabile 10) Probably the longest and the most
famous tunnel was the one built in 1964 by Wolfgang Fuchs. This tunnel was Fuchs's
seventh, and it was 140 ft. long, almost 40 ft. below the city, and about 28 inches high
inside. It took six months to build, and 57 people were able to use it before it was
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