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What was the Berlin Wall?

West Germany was a part of NATO during the Cold War.
In 1961, Soviet tanks and US tanks found themselves in a standoff in Berlin.
Germany was reunified as a single country following the collapse of the Berlin Wall.
President Kennedy gave a famous speech that ideologically removed the Berlin Wall as a barrier between West Berlin and the rest of democracy.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
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  • Last Modified Date: 06 October 2014
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The Berlin Wall was constructed by the German Democratic Republic (GDR) in 1961 in an attempt to cordon off the allied sector of West Berlin, occupied by the French, Americans, and British. It stood until 1989, when it fell along with the rest of the Iron Curtain. It is often used as an example of extreme isolationism, and was a serious diplomatic blow to relations between Soviet countries and the rest of the world.

After the Second World War, Germany was occupied by the Allied Control Council while it stabilized and was rebuilt. As part of the occupation arrangement, the Soviet Union was given control over a sector of Germany which came to be known as East Germany, while the non-communist powers controlled West Germany. Berlin, a major city in Germany, was located in East Germany, and the city itself was also split up by the major powers.

The split of Berlin resulted in an island in the midst of the sea of East Germany, a situation which made all sides in the situation uncomfortable. The East Germans feared that the Western powers might attempt a takeover or liberation of East Germany, while the Western powers feared for the citizens and workers stationed in Berlin.

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Access to Berlin had been restricted before, most notably in 1948 when several Western nations were forced to stage the Berlin Airlift, an ambitious plan to get food and supplies into West Berlin. Numerous East Germans saw West Berlin as an island of safety, and many defected to West Berlin in the search for a better life. The East Germans realized that they were losing control and citizens, and in the small hours of August 13th they began to build the Berlin Wall, a blockade around West Berlin.

The Berlin Wall shut off access to West Berlin for East Germans. It also made it difficult for people to get out of West Berlin by establishing a series of checkpoints. Extensive diplomatic negotiations surrounded the Berlin Wall, and several famous political figures, including US President Kennedy spoke about the Berlin Wall. In 1963, Kennedy made a famous speech, expressing solidarity with the people of West Berlin and stating that West Berlin was an island of democracy and freedom in a sea of communism.

The Berlin Wall claimed numerous lives, with the first death at the wall occurring in 1961 when Ida Siekmann jumped out of a third story window to get to West Germany. In 1989, with the fall of communism, citizens on both sides of the wall cooperated to tear it down, opening the 192 streets that had been closed by the construction of the Berlin Wall. The felling of the Berlin Wall was a monumental historic event, and is often used as a symbol of the decline of communism.

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anon171160
Post 8

i need to know the important people of the fall of the Berlin wall! It's important I find this out!

Sunny27
Post 6

Latte31-Oh I remember when President Reagan uttered those words. It gave me chills because I know all about the effects of communism because my family fled Cuba in the mid 1960’s in order to escape communism and live in a free society.

I was so proud when the Berlin wall fell. I would love to visit the Berlin wall today. I know that they offer Berlin Wall tours that show you the Allied checkpoints and other memorabilia and historic points of that time.

I know a lot of Cuban communities at the time were hoping for something dramatic like that to happen in Cuba, but unfortunately it was not the case.

latte31
Post 5

Anon5633- I did not know that. I did want to say that the fall of the Berlin wall was a devastating blow to Communism and the collapse of the Soviet empire.

When President Ronald Reagan uttered the words, “Mr. Gorbechov tear down that wall” people remembered that statement, but what they did not realize is the pressure the United States under President Reagan was placing the Soviets under.

The United States and the Soviets continued their arms race, but the Soviet economy was slowly crumbling and in 1989, the Berlin wall falls.

After this historic event many European Eastern bloc countries followed. However, the Soviet Union also collapsed and ended communism. All of the countries that made up the Soviet Union became independent nations for the first time.

The fall of the Berlin wall signifies the end of the Cold War and the Soviets as we saw them.

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