Berlin Wall, which divided the city into two parts, east and west, was the symbol of the Cold War. Built by the German Democratic Republic government to prevent the East Germans to flee to West Germany, most of it was demolished since the border between East and West was opened in 1989.
After WWII, Germany was divided into four zones: one American, British, French and Soviet. Berlin was also divided into four sectors. In 1948, Soviet authorities tried to annex the whole city and started a blockade of the western sectors. But the plans failed due to sectors of air transport in West and May 1949 the blockade was lifted. That same year the Soviet Germany became the GDR - German Democratic Republic with its capital in East Berlin. Other areas have become FRG - Federal Republic of Germany capital of Bonn. Western part of Berlin has become an enclave surrounded by East Germany.
By 1961, Germans in East Germany could move freely between East Berlin and the West, and by 1961 up to 20,000 East Germans fleeing each month to West Berlin. On 12 August 1961, East German authorities decided to close the border with western sectors of Berlin to prevent people to flee. Officially it was a measure of anti-fascist protection barrier designed to keep the East against the West German aggression. The next day on August 13 of this measure, West Berlin was surrounded by barbed wire. Border traffic was stopped and subway and train system linking different parts of the city were halted. Houses on the eastern side of the border were evacuated and windows overlooking the border have been built. Over time, barbed wire was replaced with a wall height of 3.6 meters. Over the Wall, on the east side appeared "dead zone", an area controlled by guards. A total of 302 guard towers and 20 bunkers were built along the border of 155 km. The guards had orders to shoot anyone who tried to flee the communist camp. As a result 192 people were killed in their attempt to cross the border to the West.
After Gorbachev Soviet president Mikhail Sergeyevich visited West Germany in 1989, Hungary opened its borders to Austria. This allowed East Germans to migrate in mass to the west. Meanwhile, street protests that drew more and more people put pressure on the government of the GDR. Finally on November 9, 1989, travel restrictions were lifted. Soon after that border gates were opened and people just invaded West Berlin.
The vast majority of the wall has been demolished since then, but some parts still remained standing. The known side of the wall is 1316 meters in length, called Gallery East. It is located between Warschauer Strasse and Ostbahnhof and contains 106 paintings. Other smaller parts of the wall can be found at the Memorial Center in Bernauer Strasse, the place where the official destruction of the Wall began at Potsdamer Platz, the Reichstag, Invaliedenfriedhof Bornholmer Strasse, Nieder-Strasse Kirchner and Zimmerstrasse near Checkpoint Charlie.
By Maria Morari
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