09 November 2011

November the 9th marks the fall of the Berlin Wall

Construction began in the dead night of the 13 of August 1961.The idea was to create a physical division between East and West Berlin in Germany. It also served as a symbolic boundary between democracy and communism.

The wall had guard towers and anti-vehicle trenches and various other defence structures. The concrete barrier stretched over a vast distance wrapping around West Berlin, cutting it off entirely from the Eastern side. Anything connecting the two sides was cut off, including telephone wires.

Since the construction began while most Berliners were asleep, those who were visiting loved ones or relatives were stuck on whichever side of the border they found themselves in for decades.

Remaining intact for 28 years, it was finally put down on November 9, 1989. Its destruction, which was nearly as instantaneous as its creation, was celebrated around the world.

After the second world war, the Allied Powers divided conquered Germany into four zones each occupied by either the United States, Great Britain, France or the Soviet Union. Germany's capital, Berlin, underwent the same division. Since the city had been situated entirely within the Soviet zone of occupation, West Berlin became an island of democracy within a communist East Germany.

Living conditions became distinctly different between the two sides, which resulted in a mass exodus of people seeking a better life in democratic West Berlin. This had a negative effect on the side being dumped, hence the wall idea to prevent East Germans from fleeing to the West.
In a nutshell, the wall was built for reasons bordering mainly on political and economic grounds.

The wall was also seen as a major symbol of communist oppression. Many fled from the east to the west and risked being captured - it was reported that approximately 191 people were captured and killed.

Tensions mounted, demonstrations intensified and spread to other parts of the world where the existence of the wall was opposed. Finally the borders were opened and the wall was dismantled by German troops which saw East and West Germany reuniting formally in 1990.