Berlin Wall

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The Berlin wall in Berlin
The Berlin wall's appeareance
View from the West Berlin side of graffiti art on the wall in 1986. The wall's infamous "death strip", on the east side of the wall, here follows the curve of the long closed Luisenstadt Canal.
Map of the location of the Berlin Wall, showing checkpoints
Satellite image of Berlin, with the wall's location marked in yellow

The Berlin Wall was a physical barrier separating West Berlin from the German Democratic Republic (GDR) (East Germany), including East Berlin. The longer inner German border demarcated the border between East and West Germany. Both borders came to symbolize the Iron Curtain between Western and Eastern Europe and, ultimately, between USA and the Soviet Union.

The wall separated East Germany from West Germany for more than a quarter-century, from the day construction began on August 13, 1961 until the Wall was opened on November 9, 1989.[1]

During this period, at least 98 people were confirmed killed trying to cross the Wall into West Berlin, according to official figures. However, a prominent victims' group claims that more than 200 people were killed trying to flee from East to West Berlin.[2] The East German government issued shooting orders to border guards dealing with defectors; such orders are not the same as shoot to kill orders which GDR officials denied ever issuing.[3]

When the East German government announced on November 9, 1989, after several weeks of civil unrest, that all GDR citizens could visit West Germany and West Berlin, crowds of East Germans climbed onto and crossed the wall, joined by West Germans on the other side in a celebratory atmosphere. Over the next few weeks, parts of the wall were chipped away by a euphoric public and by souvenir hunters; industrial equipment was later used to remove almost all of the rest of it.

The fall of the Berlin Wall paved the way for German reunification, which was formally concluded on October 3, 1990.

References

  1. Freedom! - TIME
  2. Forschungsprojekt „Die Todesopfer an der Berliner Mauer, 1961-1989“: BILANZ (Stand: 7. August 2008) (in German)
  3. E German 'licence to kill' found. BBC (2007-08-12). Retrieved on 2007-08-12. “A newly discovered order is the firmest evidence yet that the communist regime gave explicit shoot-to-kill orders, says Germany's director of Stasi files.”
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