The Berlin Wall Falls (Chronology of European History)
Article abstract: The Berlin Wall falls, beginning the process of reunifying East and West Germany.
Summary of Event
Berlin, the capital of Germany, deep inside the Russian occupation zone, had been divided into four occupational sectors after the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945. Since the Russian blockade of Berlin in 1948-1949, the eastern sector was under Communist domination, while the western sectors were under the protection of the United States, Britain, and France.
On August 13, 1961, the East German government under the patronage of the Soviet Union erected a wall through the center of Berlin to separate Communist East Berlin from the three western sectors of the city. In building the wall, the Communists intended to stop the mass exodus of East Germans (three million had fled via the open sectors since 1949) and to close the only hole in the tightly sealed Iron Curtain.
The thirty-mile-long barrier, originally an irregular, hastily constructed wall of cement blocks and barbed wire, eventually was replaced by ten-foot-high concrete prefabricated panels. This replacement wall gave a somewhat better appearance to the border but also provided West Berliners with ready-made surfaces for anti-Communist slogans and other graffiti. On certain prominent sites such as the Brandenburg Gate or the former Potsdamer Platz, visitor platforms allowed a look across the wall to witness how the East German...
(The entire section is 1565 words.)
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The Berlin Wall Falls (Great Events from History II: Human Rights Series)
Article abstract: The Berlin Wall stood as a physical and psychological barrier between East and West for twenty-eight years, until the thaw in the Cold War allowed the people to bring down the wall and reunify Germany.
Summary of Event
After World War II, relations between the main world powers-- the West and the East--broke down. Repressive political policies, collectivization of land, nationalization of industry, and imprisonment of anyone opposed to the authorities became common in the East Bloc. This political disintegration reached its height on August 13, 1961, when the Soviet Union’s leader, Nikita Khrushchev, ordered that the thirteen-foot-high, steel and concrete Berlin Wall be built, ostensibly to stop a “population hemorrhage”-- the flight of unhappy East Germans to the West-- that was draining the Eastern economy. The next twenty-eight years produced a multitude of political crises, from the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 to the execution of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu on December 25, 1989. The building of the Berlin Wall effectively created a country of political prisoners. East Germans were not allowed to leave the country without going through extensive bureaucratic red tape to secure a visa. Usually such efforts were unsuccessful, even if the applicant had excellent reasons for leaving the country, such as a family emergency. In fact, application for an exit visa was likely to place the...
(The entire section is 2447 words.)