The Berlin Wall 13 August 1961 – 9 November 1989
When and Why • After Airlift / Blockade (1949): French, British, US zones amalgamated “Federal Republic of Germany” • Soviet zone became “German Democratic Republic”
When and Why • By July 1961 30,000 East German were fleeing to the west each month. • The survival of East Germany was threatened • Khrushchev (..hard one to spell…) ordered construction of the Berlin Wall on 13 August 1961
When and Why “The Soviet-dominated Eastern Bloc officially claimedthat the wall was erected to protect its population from fascist elements conspiring to prevent the "will of the people" in building a Socialist State in East Germany. However, in practice, the Wall served to prevent the massive emigration and defectionthat marked Germany and the communist Eastern Bloc during the post-World War II period.”
The Berlin Wall and its crossing points • There were 12 crossing points from East to West. • Only one allowed non-Germans into East Berlin: Checkpoint Charlie (Berlin Friedrichstrasse)
Consequences The Berlin Wall divided many families. Many East Berliners were unable to commute to their jobs in the West
Consequences During the wall’s existence there were around 5000 successful escapes into West Berlin. Varying reports claim that either 192 or 239 people were killed trying to cross the wall and many more were injured.
Video "Walled In!" Germany's inner border http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwQsTzGkbiY Primary source analysis: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nch5MbnvTqY • Who was it produced by? • Who was it produced for? • What is its bias? • Is this a useful source for a Historian? Why?
The Berlin teenager Remember the 17 year old Berlin teenager in 1948? S/he was born in 1931, so s/he’d have been 30 when the wall was built. S/he would be married with children. How would you feel? Would you and your family try to escape?
Facts and Figures Total length around West Berlin 155km Border between East & West Berlin 43.1 km Number of watch towers 302 Number of bunkers 20 Concrete wall height 3.6m
9th of November 1989 August 23 1989: Communist Hungary opened its borders with Austria. September 1989, 13,000 East German tourists who were in Hungary escaped into Austria. East German government decided to allow East Berliners to apply for a travel visa to visit West Germany. November 9 1989: the East German Minister of Propaganda Günter Schabowski, announced this arrangement at a press conference. He was asked when this would come into effect and he replied ‘As far as I know, immediately, right now’.