An Official of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED), Gunter Schabowski gained worldwide fame for accidentally beginning the destruction of the inner German border at a press conference on Nov. 9, 1989, Eric BouvetâGamma-Rapho via Getty Images, A crowd at the Berlin Wall on Nov. 12, 1989, Melania Trump's Christmas Decorations Gave the Internet the Most Wonderful Memes of the Year, Who Should Be TIMEâs Person of the Year for 2020? Outside of Berlin, East Germany had been fortified in 1952. As he was about to scale the Wall, a border guard opened fire. In 1949, this new organization of Germany became official when the three zones occupied by the United States, Great Britain, and France combined to form West Germany (the Federal Republic of Germany, or FRG). 12:56 A convoy of Trabants, iconic East German cars, rumbled through Berlin on Saturday in honor of the wall's destruction 30 years ago. The Wall divided the city of Berlin into an eastern zone, which became the capital of the GDR, and a western zone, which was governed by the three western allies and was also a state of the Federal Republic of Germany. The Berlin Wall. There had been signs that the Communist bloc was weakening, but the East German Communist leaders insisted that East Germany just needed a moderate change rather than a drastic revolution. During the history of the Berlin Wall, it is estimated that about 5,000 people made it safely across.. Germany's Capital Moves From Bonn to Berlin, Ostpolitik: West Germany Talks to the East, These 4 Quotes Completely Changed the History of the World, Berlin Airlift and Blockade in the Cold War, The Relationship of the United States With Germany, Warsaw Pact: Definition, History, and Significance, Walled In: Ordinary East Germans' Responses to 13 August 1961, I was a Reverse Commuter Across the Berlin Wall, B.A., History, University of California at Davis. Jager was instructed by his superiors to let the biggest troublemakers through on a one-way ticket. Major, Patrick. When the Berlin Wall fell on November 9, 1989, its destruction was nearly as instantaneous as its creation. 4.4 out of 5 stars 126. The first two versions of the wall were replaced by the third version in 1965, consisting of a concrete wall supported by steel girders. Rottman, Gordon L. The Berlin Wall and the Intra-German Border 1961–89. The Berlin Wall was actually two walls. Bush, who worked with West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl to â¦ Suddenly, on the evening of November 9, 1989, East German government official Günter Schabowski blundered by stating in an announcement, "Permanent relocations can be done through all border checkpoints between the GDR [East Germany] into the FRG [West Germany] or West Berlin.". For 30 years, the Berlin Wall was the defining symbol of the Cold War, separating families and keeping the people from jobs and opportunity in the west. Over that weekend, more than 2 million people from East Berlin visited West Berlin to participate in the mass celebration. Protesters chip away at the Berlin Wall in late 1989. The GDR has announced that, starting immediately, its borders are open to everyone. The Berlin Wall's Destruction; Life After The Wall; Effects of the Wall The Berlin Wall separated East and West Germany both physically and politically. Citizens flocked to the border en masse sometime around 9:00 pm and found that, after initial confusion, the border guards were indeed letting people cross. When the Berlin Wall fell on November 9, 1989, its destruction was nearly as instantaneous as its creation. At the end of World War II, the Allied powers divided conquered Germany into four zones. While most Berliners were sleeping, these crews began tearing up streets that entered into West Berlin. No longer able to stand the repressive living conditions, they decided to head to West Berlin. 29, no. An undated photo of a West Berlin couple talking to relatives in an East Berlin apartment house (see upper window open) over the Berlin Wall. At least 140 people died at the Berlin Wall.. This was a crucial flashpoint in the history between the two sides, as the guards could have easily fired on the crowd. Formerly, the Soviets had ruled over their Eastern Bloc allies closely, forcing them into lockstep with Soviet communist policy. The 27-mile portion of the barrier separating Berlin into east â¦ West Berliners greeted their counterparts with music and champagne. The wall in Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester, in January 2020. Bloomsbury, 2012. Armed guards with instructions to shoot anyone trying to reach West Berlin patrolled the area. Some citizens began to chip away at the physical barrier with sledgehammers and chisels. The fall of the inner German border took place shortly afterwards. Since the late 1950s, the two stations broadcast to nearly all of East Germany, and the programs appeared there as well. The fall of the Berlin Wall happened nearly as suddenly as its rise. Despite the initial euphoria, the road to recovery for East Germany was long and difficult with economic and social dislocation. The historic Berlin Wall fell on November 9, 1989. The relationship between the Soviet Union and the other three Allied powers quickly disintegrated. The fall of the Berlin Wall. The wall also didn't allow people to leave or come into East or West Germany. With the support of the Soviet Union, there had been several attempts to simply take over the city of West Berlin. Erected in the dead of night on August 13, 1961, the Berlin Wall (known as Berliner Mauer in German) was a physical division between West Berlin and East Germany. To Jager, it was obvious that the five dozen men guarding the border were grossly outnumbered. The fall of the Berlin Wall did not just represent the destruction of the physical barrier that for 28 years split a city and a country in two opposing sides. He was replaced by Egon Krenz who decided that violence was not going to solve the country's problems. He was unable to get any clear guidance on how to proceed, but a superior in the background called Jager a coward for being unable to handle the situation. With the help and support of its occupying powers, West Germany set up a capitalist society. In September 1961, the windows of these buildings were boarded up and the sewers connecting East and West were shut off. Still others were suicidal as some people jumped from the upper-story windows of apartment buildings that bordered the Berlin Wall. Soldiers closing off East Berlin with barbed wire fences. He was facing a momentous decision — open fire on the civilians, or let them through. It consisted of concrete slabs reaching nearly 12-feet high (3.6 meters) and 4-ft wide (1.2 m). It also had a smooth pipe running across the top to hinder people from scaling it. They dug holes to put up concrete posts and strung barbed wire all across the border between East and West Berlin. Some began chipping at the Berlin Wall with hammers and chisels. Only a few years later, on Nov. 9, 1989, it was not Mr. Gorbachev but the German people who finally tore down the barrier. The first hammer blow to the Berlin Wall was the Sinatra Doctrine. Soon after the Berlin Wall was built, Checkpoint Charlie became an icon of the Cold War, one that has frequently been featured in movies and books set during this time period. These people were nicknamed "Mauerspechte" or wall woodpeckers. At 11:30 pm, Jager phoned his superior and reported his decision: he would open all the remaining gates and allow the crowds to stream across the border. This open area allowed a direct line of fire so East German soldiers could carry out Shiessbefehl, a 1960 order that they were to shoot anyone trying escape. There was an impromptu and massive celebration along the Berlin Wall, with people hugging, kissing, singing, cheering, and crying. However, according to historian Mary Elise Sarotte in her book The Collapse: The Accidental Opening of the Berlin Wall, no one among the East German authorities wanted to take the personal authority of issuing orders leading to the use of lethal force. Thirty years after the Berlin Wall â¦ Valuable assets were shipped back to the Soviet Union and economic recovery was slow and stagnant. But after the Berlin Wall collapsed on November 9, 1989, it was his successor, President George H.W. Mass Emigration From the East. Their angry parents began to plead with officials not to keep them separated from their children, and by that point Jager was unwilling to argue on behalf of his superiors. Events celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Berlin Wallâs demise last week are tempered by soul-searching about continued rifts in society. Over those next two months of 1961, nearly 20,000 people fled to the West.. Gorbachev was also in favor of a relaxation of censorship of the press and of the central control of economic matters. The most famous of these was Checkpoint Charlie, located on the border between East and West Berlin at Friedrichstrasse. He repeatedly attempted to contact his superior, Rudi Ziegenhorn, in order to ascertain how to handle the increasingly chaotic situation, as more and more people gathered at the gates. How did the Wall come down? With many East Berliners fleeing that situation, a physical barrier between the two sides of Berlin, known as the Berlin Wall (die Berliner Mauer), was built starting in August of 1961. But many of these so-called troublemakers were students and other young individuals who briefly entered West Berlin and then returned to the checkpoint for re-entry into East Berlin. As a result, the cooperative atmosphere of the occupation of Germany turned competitive and aggressive. When it fell, the event was celebrated around the world. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”. The Berlin Wall split germany in two, East and West, right down the middle of a city named Berlin. On June 12, 1987 — more than 25 years after the Berlin Wall first divided the city’s East and West — U.S. President Ronald Reagan gave a famous speech in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, challenging his Soviet counterpart Mikhail Gorbachev by declaring, “Mr. Kaity_Mueller. After the Berlin Wall came down, East and West Germany reunified into a single German state on October 3, 1990. The Berlin Wall dictated the day-to-day lives of Berliners for almost three decades. The East German guards did not shoot him again nor did they go to his aid. 95. Manchester prepares for fall of its 'Berlin Wall' Tadao Andoâs modernist work in Piccadilly Gardens has divided opinion since 2002. It all had started with a gaffe, a hasty answer to a question had started the destruction of a longstanding divide between two nations. Mauer Museum: Haus am Checkpoint Charlie. The economy in West Germany, as a result of the help provided by its occupying forces, quickly grew. Get it as soon as Wed, Nov 25. Since the city of Berlin had been situated entirely within the Soviet Zone of Occupation, West Berlin became an island of democracy within Communist East Germany. It was becoming increasingly clear that the Soviet Union was no longer prepared to support hardline Communist regimes in Eastern Europe. Just days later, on August 15, it was quickly replaced with a sturdier, more permanent structure. The total length of the Berlin Wall was 96 miles (155 kilometers). It cut not only through the center of Berlin, but also wrapped around West Berlin, entirely cutting it off from the rest of East Germany. The fall of the Berlin Wall (German: Mauerfall), on 9 November 1989, was a pivotal event in world history which marked the falling of the Iron Curtain and the start of the fall of communism in Eastern and Central Europe. Friedman, Peter. Checkpoint Charlie was the main access point for Allied personnel and Westerners to cross the border. It was on 9 November 1989, five days after half a million people gathered in East Berlin in a mass protest, that the â¦ Vote Now, Republicans Attack Joe Bidenâs Budget Chief Pick Over Tweets, You can unsubscribe at any time. In October 1989, Honecker was forced to resign after losing support from Gorbachev. On a global level, the fall of the Berlin Wall marked the symbolic end of the Cold War, famously prompting the political scientist Francis Fukuyama to declare it the “end of history.”. After Jager made an exception for the parents, others demanded the same treatment as well. Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev (1985–1991) was attempting to save his country and decided to break off from many of its satellites. After the PUWP [Polish Communist party] and the HSWP [Hungarian party] went Honecker. Having gone that far, it was simply too late. Over the years, propaganda from the East German government would say that the people of East Germany welcomed the Wall. The pieces have become collectibles and are stored in both homes and museums. Others were brash, like ramming a truck or bus into the Berlin Wall and making a run for it. The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 was a pivotal moment, not just in the Cold War but in the history of modern Europe. An end to the Cold War was declared at the Malta Summit three weeks later, and the reunification of Germany took place in October the following year. Many of those who escaped were young, trained professionals. The opposite occurred in East Germany. It was brought about by political reforms inside the Soviet bloc, escalating pressure from the people of â¦ âWalls in people's heads are sometimes more durable than walls made of concrete blocks.â â Willy â¦ As Communism began to falter in Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia in 1988 and 1989, new exodus points were opened to East Germans who wanted to flee to the West. On November 9 the East German government opened the countryâs borders with West Germany (including West Berlin), and openings were made in the Berlin Wall through which East Germans could travel freely to the West. But by 1989, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, was convinced that the Soviet Union needed reform. $24.95 $ 24. What Happened the Day the Berlin Wall Fell. Berliners were shocked when they woke up that morning. At least 12 were killed within the first year.. The Building and Destruction of the Berlin Wall. On Oct. 3, 1990, 11 months after the fall of the Berlin Wall, East and West Germany became one state again. “Permanent relocations,” he said, “can be done through all border checkpoints between the GDR [East Germany] into the FRG [West Germany] or West Berlin.” This news was set out as an incremental change in policy. The Berlin Wall has collapsed. Following World War II, at the Yalta and Potsdam peace conferences, it was determined among the war’s victors that Germany’s territories would be split into four “Allied occupation zones.” The eastern part of the country went to the Soviet Union, while the western part went to the United States, Great Britain and eventually France. The fourth version of the Berlin Wall, constructed from 1975 to 1980, was the most complicated and thorough. Original Piece of the REAL BERLIN WALL Mounted in Acrylic Display with Certificate of Authenticity - Authentic Historic German Artifact Souvenir from Europe - MEDIUM 3"X3" - Divided City Theme. It was a spirit of revolution that had led to the destruction of that wall and while the actual wall itself wasnât officially demolished until a â¦ Berlin: Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung Potsdam and Stiftung Berliner Mauer, Aug. 2017. Instead, it came about through a mistaken and premature announcement. Just after midnight on the night of August 12–13, 1961, trucks with soldiers and construction workers rumbled through East Berlin. A Biographical Handbook. No longer could East Berliners cross the border for operas, plays, soccer games, or any other activity. 20 terms. The second one, Peter Fechter, was not. West Berliners Protesting at Berlin Wall with pictures of Peter Fechter's body. In reality, the oppression they suffered and the potential consequences they faced kept many from speaking out to the contrary. (Photo by University of Minnesota Institute of Advanced Studies) However, the GDR was serious in its warnings that this was a one-way ticket. By signing up you are agreeing to our, Czechoslovakiaâs Velvet Revolution Started 30 Years AgoâBut It Was Decades in the Making, Why Joe Biden Needs Mitch McConnell to Govern, Sign up to receive the top stories you need to know now on politics, health and more, © 2020 TIME USA, LLC. Harrison, Hope M. Driving the Soviets up the Wall: Soviet-East German Relations, 1953-1961. There were vast piles of rubble everywhere. By the early 1960s, East Germany was rapidly losing both its labor force and its population. "I was a Reverse Commuter Across the Berlin Wall." Berlin after the War was a post-apocalyptic world. "Berlin Wall: Facts & Figures." Harald Jager, to this day, maintains that it was not he who opened the gates, but rather it was the people of East Berlin themselves. The destruction of the wall made the people in Berlin free to do and go where they wanted. Once he had bled to death, East German guards carried off his body. Some even attempted to cross in hot air balloons, by ramming through in vehicles at high speeds or by crawling through sewers. The wall henceforth ceased to function as â¦ It became an ugly scar on the German landscape and a symbol of division in the country. Although an eventual reunification of Germany had been intended, the new relationship between the Allied powers turned Germany into West versus East and democracy versus Communism. Rumors had spread that something might happen to tighten the border of East and West Berlin. The Wall Street Journal, 8 Nov. 2019. Although some of them would be stopped on their way, hundreds of thousands made it across the border.. All Rights Reserved. The East Germans also installed anti-vehicle trenches, electric fences, massive light systems, 302 watchtowers, 20 bunkers, and even minefields.. The Soviet Union had viewed their zone as a spoil of war. Hertle, Hans-Hermann and Maria Nooke (eds.). As the Berlin Wall became stronger and larger, escape attempts became more elaborately planned. Though the âfallâ of the Berlin Wall did not mean its complete physical destruction, the consequences of its opening were indeed lasting. On May 23, 1949, the three Allied zones became the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) while the former Soviet occupation zone became the German Democratic Republic (GDR) on Oct. 7, 1949. Building the Berlin Wall was a key Soviet move in the Cold War. The demolition of the Wall officially began on 13 June 1990 and was completed in November 1991. The Berlin Wall was eventually chipped away into smaller pieces (some the size of a coin and others in big slabs). By the late 1950s, many people living in East Germany wanted out. One of the best-known incidents was the Berlin Blockade in June of 1948 during which the Soviet Union stopped all supplies from reaching West Berlin. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our, a surprising announcement at a press conference, 'The Gates in the Wall Stand Open Wide.' This new policy of openness had already resulted in contested elections in Poland in May 1989 as well as reforms in Hungary. In pictures: The rise and fall of the Berlin Wall Updated 12:02 AM ET, Sat November 9, 2019 West German children interact with East German border guards after the fall of the Berlin Wall â¦ He then tumbled back onto the East German side. The construction of the Wall in August 1961 embodied the division of Germany. This same division into West and East occurred in Berlin. It started out as a barbed-wire fence with concrete posts. By the â¦ He instituted disarmament and a winding down of Cold War confrontations in Europe as preconditions to his reforms. The "fall of the Berlin Wall" paved the way for German reunification, which formally took place on 3 October 1990. This entire era in the history of the socialist system is over. No longer could the approximately 50,000–70,000 commuters head to West Berlin for well-paying jobs. No longer could families, friends, and lovers cross the border to meet their loved ones. The Brandenburg Gate, a few meters from the Berlin Wall, was opened on 22 December 1989. The destruction of the once-hated wall signaled the end of a divided Germany. Telephone wires between East and West Berlin were also cut and railroad lines were blocked. National Cold War Exhibition, Royal Air Force Museum. Surprisingly, the fall of the Berlin Wall did not happen through rigorous political negotiations. Jennifer Rosenberg is a historian and writer who specializes in 20th-century history. No one was expecting the speed—nor the absoluteness—of the Berlin Wall. With hard work, individuals living in West Germany were able to live well, buy gadgets and appliances, and travel as they wished. Gorbachev agreed on negotiations with the U.S. President George H.W. 8–22. Though the “fall” of the Berlin Wall did not mean its complete physical destruction, the consequences of its opening were indeed lasting. By 11:00 pm, Harald Jager, the commander of the Bornholmer Strasse border crossing, let the guards open the checkpoints, allowing people to pass without their identities checked. “Walled In: Ordinary East Germans' Responses to 13 August 1961.” German Politics & Society, vol. These checkpoints were for the infrequent use of officials and others with special permission to cross the border. Other areas were rows of building walls with collaosed interiors â the skeletons of a destroyed city. In was amid that atmosphere of reform that, on the evening of Nov. 9, 1989, Gunter Schabowski, an East German government official, made a surprising announcement at a press conference. In 1952, the Soviets closed the East-West German border, but since all of Berlin was still â¦ Nearly the opposite was true in East Germany. Outside of Berlin, East Germany had been fortified in 1952. The gates in the Wall stand open wide.”. This was all the East German populace needed to hear. Unfortunately, not all escape attempts were successful. Its purpose was to keep disaffected East Germans from fleeing to the West. But, after reporter Riccardo Ehrman asked when the regulations would take effect, Schabowski replied, “As far as I know, it takes effect immediately, without delay.”, Schabowski’s press conference was the lead story on West Germany’s two main news programs that night, at 7:00 pm and 8:00 pm, with the takeaway being that the Wall, while it still stood, was no longer the firm dividing line it had long been. Very quickly, the Berlin Wall was inundated with people from both sides. Fechter continued to climb but ran out of energy just as he reached the top. On Nov. 9, 1989, GDR spokesman Günter Schabowski spontaneously announced that restrictions on travel visas to West Germany would be lifted. On November 9, 1989, the wall started to fall but it was not taken down immediately on that day. Once across, these refugees were housed in warehouses and then flown to West Germany. The first of the young men to reach it was successful. Berlin, as the capital, would be likewise split. The same was done in Germany's capital city, Berlin. the Soviet Union had became distant from the allies, capturing berliners and splitting families up, forming a communist government that wanted all control. As of Feb. 5, 2017, it has now been breached for over 10,316 days. There was no direct order to destroy the wall, it fell due to a combination of pressure, frustration, opportunity and luck. Were the borders really open? Gorbachev agreed on â¦ When asked for a timeline of the new policy to take effect, Schabowski answered: "Immediately, without delay." When East Germany became its own country in 1949, it was under the direct influence of the Soviet Union and a Communist society was established. One of the most infamous cases of a failed attempt occurred on August 17, 1962. By the time the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, there was a 300-foot No Man's Land established on the exterior, and an additional inner wall. Soldiers patrolled with dogs and a raked ground revealed any footprints. Thousands of people were demanding that the gates be opened. For 28 years, the Berlin Wall had been a symbol of the Cold War and the Iron Curtain between Soviet-led Communism and the democracies of the West. To the shock of the world, Fechter was just left there. A man attacks the Berlin Wall with a pickax on the night of Nov. 9, 1989, as news spread rapidly that the East German government would start granting exit visas to anyone who wanted to â¦ 2. Although most of the border between East and West consisted of layers of preventative measures, there were little more than a handful of official openings along the Berlin Wall. Because the city of Berlin was located entirely within the Soviet zone of occupation, West Berlin became an island within Communist East Germany. One of the largest and most modern cities of Europe was left a wasteland. After 25 years of loyal service to the regime, according to Sarotte, Jager felt insulted and pushed to his limit. They pilfered factory equipment and other valuable assets from their zone and shipped them back to the Soviet Union. 2, 2011, pp. In the early afternoon, two 18-year-old men ran toward the Wall with the intention of scaling it. Bush and West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl to permit the reunification of the two German states, almost completely on West German terms. That night, anchorman Hanns Joachim Friedrichs proclaimed, “This 9 November is a historic day. The wall itself went through four major transformations during its 28-year history. Official demolition of the Berlin Wall began in the summer of 1990. People were in shock. And the fallout from the fall continues to this day: citizens were still paying slightly higher taxes than before the merger in order to cover the costs of unification. In November, 1989, East German students sit atop the Berlin Wall at the Brandenburg Gate in front of border guards. The Berlin Wall stood for 10,316 days. In East Germany, protests against the government were countered by threats of violence from its leader, Erich Honecker (served 1971–1989). ", After this statement, the exodus of East Germans only increased. Krenz also loosened travel restrictions from East Germany. The Berlin Wall did prevent the majority of East Germans from emigrating to the West, but it did not deter everyone. East Germans tentatively approached the border and indeed found that the border guards were letting people cross. In total, at least 171 people were killed attempting to get over, under or around the wall. According to German historian Hans-Hermann Hertle in his work Berlin Wall: Monument of the Cold War, between 1961 and when the wall finally came down in 1989, over 5,000 East Germans successfully managed to cross the border by jumping out of windows of buildings adjacent to the wall or climbing over the barbed wire. Within a short period of time after the war, living conditions in West Germany and East Germany became distinctly different. This one was made out of concrete blocks and topped with barbed wire. Other buildings were torn down to clear space for what would become known as the Todeslinie, the "Death Line" or "Death Strip." These iconic words mean, "No one intends to build a wall. Famously, two months before the Berlin Wall appeared, Walter Ulbricht, Head of the State Council of the GDR (1960–1973) said, "Niemand hat die Absicht, eine Mauer zu errichten." The wall also affected the people in Germany. Starting that evening and in the weeks that followed, people came to the wall with sledgehammers,hammers,and chisels to take down the wall. On the 9th of November, 1989, the Berlin Wall is opened after nearly three decades keeping East and West Berliners apart. In 1965 work began on a concrete wall and in 1975 work began on a final wall made of reinforced concrete sections, further reinforced with mesh fencing, topped with barbed wire. Desperate to keep its citizens, East Germany knew that something needed to be done. East German citizens did not agree. Some early successful attempts were simple, like throwing a rope over the Berlin Wall and climbing up. The economy of East Germany dragged and individual freedoms were severely restricted. The Berlin Wall (German: Berliner Mauer) was a barrier constructed by the German Democratic Republic (GDR, East Germany) starting on 13 August 1961, that completely cut off (by land) West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin. There is also now a Berlin Wall Memorial at the site on Bernauer Strasse. Another group saved scraps of cloth and built a hot air balloon and flew over the Wall. By midnight, the checkpoints were completely overrun. The announcement shocked everyone â especially the border officers who had not been aware â¦ He became a permanent symbol of the struggle for freedom. The zone occupied by the Soviet Union quickly followed by forming East Germany (the German Democratic Republic, or GDR). Since the East German guards were allowed to shoot anyone nearing the eastern side without warning, there was always a chance of death in any and all escape plots. Although the Soviet Union even threatened the United States with the use of nuclear weapons over this issue, the United States and other Western countries were committed to defending West Berlin. Soldiers investigating a tunnel dug beneath the Berlin wall. The crowd began to chant “Tor auf!”—Open the gate! The economy experienced such a rapid growth that it became known as the "economic miracle." Erected in 1961, the Berlin Wall divided the former German capital for almost three decades. Get your history fix in one place: sign up for the weekly TIME History newsletter. What had once been a very fluid border was now rigid. Whichever side of the border one went to sleep on during the night of August 12, they were stuck on that side for decades. For 28 years, the Berlin Wall had been a symbol of the Cold War and the Iron Curtain between Soviet-led Communism and the democracies of the West. The story of the Berlin Wall is one of division and repression, but also of the yearning for freedom — and the events that led up to its toppling are no exception. Some people dug tunnels from the basements of buildings in East Berlin, under the Berlin Wall, and into West Berlin. "The Wall." The Victims at the Berlin Wall, 1961–1989. After War World II. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, 2011. As agreed at the July 1945 Potsdam Conference, each was occupied by either the United States, Great Britain, France, or the Soviet Union. Fechter shouted in agony for nearly an hour. Scholars estimate that between 1949 and 1961, nearly 3 million of the GDR's 18 million populace fled East Germany. The government was desperate to stop this mass exodus, and the obvious leak was the easy access East Germans had to West Berlin.
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