Berlin Wall Term Paper

This essay has a total of 2513 words and 11 pages.

Berlin Wall

Nichole Bentley
Written October 9, 2001

History Of The Berlin Wall

The Berlin Wall, for twenty-eight years, separated friends, families, and a nation. A lot
of suffering began for Germany when World War II commenced, but by the end of the war
Germany was in the mists of a disaster waiting to happen. After WWII was over Germany was
divided into four parts. The United States, Great Britain, and France controlled the three
divisions that were formed in the Western half; and the Eastern half was controlled by the
Soviet Republic. The Western divisions eventually united to make a federal republic, while
the Eastern divisions became communist.

Even though Berlin lay deep within the Soviet sector, the Allies thought it best to divide
this capital. Therefore Berlin was also divided into four parts. The Soviet Union was in
control of the eastern half of Germany. The Soviet Union made East Berlin the capital of
East Germany. The other three counties were each in control of a small part of what was to
be West Germany. These three countries decided that they would come together to form one
country out of their three divided parts. Those three divided parts formed West Germany.

After all the land was divided the Soviet Union controlled East Germany. Just like the
Soviet Union, the economy in East Germany was struggling to get back on its feet after the
war. While West Berlin became a lively urban area like many American cities, East Berlin
became what many thought of as a ‘Mini-Moscow'. In East Germany there was literary
almost nothing. The shelves in the stores were practically bare, and what was there was
not in very good quality.

At first, the divisions between East and West Berlin were uncertain. There was nothing
that divided the city. For more than ten years after the official split of the city, East
Berlin saw a major emigration of East Germans, unhappy with the communist system.
Emigration was easy. With nothing physical to separate East and West Berlin, migration
from totalitarianism to democracy was as easy for East Berliners as changing houses.

The Soviet Union went against their promises to the people of East Germany, and made East
Germany a Communist country. This decision by the Soviet Union separated East Germany even
more from the rest of Europe. East Germany was now all by itself, and by the summer of
1952 the border between East and West Germany was closed; only in Berlin was the border
was still open.

On June 17, 1953 the workers of East Germany were fed up, and they started a riot. By noon
the riots had escalated and the workers from East Germany were marching through the
Brandenburg Gate into West Germany with intension to combine with workers from West
Germany. All of this came to an end when the Soviet Union called in tanks, and other
troops, to take care of the riots. The Soviet tanks shot into the crowds of people killing
many, and injuring many others, they even shot into the crowds in West Germany that were
rioting. The people of East Germany realized that they were trapped in East Germany, and
if they wanted out they would have to risk their lives in doing so. In the late 1950's
approximately 8,000 to 10,000 people from East Germany left and each day they would move
further and further west.

Many of these people were from East Berlin, and the government of East Germany knew that
they couldn't afford to loose all of these people. Their economy was suffering already,
and with the loss of so many people the economy would be hopeless. Many of the people that
were leaving were skilled trades men, or members of professions. There were many escape
tunnels dug under the wall. The tunnel system was an unexpected resistance movement dug by
hundreds of East Berlin students with thousands more willing to help. The first successful
tunnel was in an East Berlin Graveyard. Mourners brought flowers to a grave and then
dropped out of sight. More than half of the emigrants between 1949 and 1961 were under the
age of 24. For people under 60 years old, lawful emigration was not easy. Legal processes
were lengthy and difficult, and they were eventually successful in discouraging the young
people from leaving the country. However, emigration for the elderly was no problem since
they had no big role in the growth of the Communist State. East Germany did not have any
ideas on how to stop all the people from leaving in groups, until a person came up with an
idea to build a wall so high, and so booby-trapped that no one would try to get over the

This idea, thought up by some unknown person, became the infamous Berlin Wall. Winston
Churchill named this barrier the Iron Curtain. The Berlin Wall was built on August 13,
1961. Walter Ulbricht, who was the German Communist leader under the command of Stalin,
organized the construction of a large wall to be built in order to restrain illegal
emigration from the East to the West. They tore up the streets to use the paving stones to
build the wall. It stunned people from both East and West Germany. Workers from East
Germany that worked in West Germany were separated from their family that night, and they
were separated for years.

The Berlin Wall was 96 miles long. It consisted of 67 miles of concrete segment wall which
was four meters high, 42 miles of wire mesh fencing, 65 miles of anti-vehicle trenches,
and 79 miles of contact or signal fence. There were 302 watchtowers, and 20 bunkers.
Behind the wall was a trench to stop vehicles. After that was a patrol track with a
corridor for watchdogs, watch towers, and bunkers. Behind all of that was a second wall.
This area of no man's land cut off one hundred-ninety two streets. Checkpoint Charley was
the main crossing point for the American sector of West Berlin. It was six hundred-eighty
feet west of the Brandenburg Gate.

Many people are mistaken and think that it only divided East and West Germany. The wall
did not only divide Berlin through the center and all around the outer part of the city,
it was built on the border between West and East Germany, from the Baltic Sea southward
through the center of Germany all the way to Hildburghausen. From there it went east
toward the border of Czechoslovakia.

While the Wall was being built, the West began protests and speeches that prohibited the
complete isolation of East Berlin. The United States, in particular, was opposed to the
establishment of the Wall. President John F. Kennedy was essential to the cause, declaring
his moral commitment with the infamous words:

" As a free man, I take pride in the words -
Ich bin ein Berliner (I am a Berliner)"
Unfortunately for East Berliners, however, Western involvement did not go much beyond protests and speeches.
When building the wall, houses were both torn down and replaced with mined strips and
watchtowers, or they were sealed to prevent escapes. Even a Huguenot cemetery with
entrances on each side of the sector border was closed off, and West Berliners were not
allowed to visit family graves in East Berlin. At this time the people of Berlin knew it
was more than just their worst nightmare, it was reality. The people of East Germany were
trapped in East Germany. There was no way to see relatives or anything on the west side of
the wall. The people of West Germany were granted permission to go to the East side of the
wall, but they could not take anything with them. They were allowed to stay for only a
week, and they could only do this a couple times each year.

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