After the war Nazi Germany was allied with Communist Russia against the allied nations of France, USA and Britain. Although the aillies where all fighting for the same side, the Soviet Union believed in totalitarianism (a government controlled society).
On 7 may 1945 Germany surrendered the war and all the key leaders (Starlin, Churchill, Roosevelt )of each nation decided to spilt Germany into 4 sectors, Berlin was a soviet zone as was Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia that was strictly controlled ,to the dislike of many people living in east German, so many people decided to flee this zone in Germany however the soviets didn’t want to lose skilled professional (doctors, engineers etc) and put measures in to heighten border controls into the different zones also known as ‘the iron curtain’. The western nation wanted a fair government and opposed the fact they were once again living under a dictatorship (after the war especially) However rebelling and defending the new zones was problematic as the soviets had atomic weapons.
Britain and USA merged their zones ,West Germany became a place of freedom and democracy, attacks continued from the west and then in 1948 the USSR cordoned off West Berlin however people could still pass between the east and west. In 1960 thousands of people continued to escape creating more political tensions and a massive economic strain on the west.
On the 12/13 august in the dead of the night the borders between the east and west were closed down and started to construct wire fences and wall no one was aware of this sly plan until morning. The wall cut off East Berlin to west so that no one people could escape and flee the soviet rule.
Many people tried to escape as the wall/barred wire fences were being constructed however the soviets enforced guards to prevent this. The wall surrounded was Berlin for 96 miles with watchtowers and armed guards preventing any attempts at escaping.
Famously Peter fetcher in 1962 tried to escape and made it over the wall before he was shot as witnessed by many onlookers on either side on the wall however no one turned to help from either side and he bleed to death until east German soldiers came to collect the body. Neither side intervened though fears of causing their consequences that crossing into the war zone would produce. There is now memorial now to commemorate this crime.
In 1985 Mikhail Gorbachev took over the soviet union and recognised that communism and the old economy was failing and put in place polices that reformed and brought round change in the government offering more freedom to the east in turn leading to fall of the Berlin wall and consequently the fall of the soviet union too
Check point Charlie
This is the location which acted as a singular crossing point between east and west from the cold war it has become a symbol of division of the cold war and iconic of the political and physical boundaries with Berlin at the time. It has now become a major tourist spot with a museum close by detailing the many attempts to cross the borders before the wall.
Fall of the Wall
Due to the mass immigration to the west, causing a diminishing lifestyle and a failing economy on the west plus major conflicts over governments on the 12/13 August 1961 in the dead of the night the wall started to be constructed between east and West Berlin. There were strict enforcements and guards to stop people escaping to West Berlin, with checkpoints for the privileged to pass through, the main point being Check Point Charlie.
In 1988/89 communism in Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia were weakening, The east German government lead by Gunter Schabowski announced that all borders and relocations could be let through. By 1990 Berlin was as one reunified state.
The wall became a symbol of the Cold War and communism against democracy. The falling of the wall signified freedom and democracy even though the soviets war continues for a couple after the fall of the wall. The re-unification of Berlin to become one state had begun. Today there is very little left of the wall however there still exist the ‘wall in the mind’ (Harrison) in the psychological aspects of Berliners from both the east and west this however Harrison state is a generational thing and will gradually break down the ‘second wall’ too, this suggests there are hidden division in Berlin that people still recall and reflect upon however isn’t ‘popular’ enough to discuss openly.
From the west the representation was fairly negative branding it the ‘wall of shame’ (Ahonen) in terms of the Nazi influence and a motif planted on wall, which offended citizens on the west side of the wall, it acted a reminded of all the conflict and violence carried out for instance to cruel death of Peter Fetcher and many others who tried to flee east Germany. Although this shocking act encouraged and set an example used in media representation and political agendas against the east for instance a West Berlin labour union leader claimed ‘a system that needs these methods to maintain control of the people is inhumane and does not have the right to rule over a population of seventeen million.” (1962) this set out the dominant values and representations of the east at the time and there a divide exist in regards to people moral values and judgements as well as physically.
The east viewed the wall as a method of protection with their aim to ‘control and supervision of our state boundary’ (1961) this control included the deaths of many civilians like peter Fetcher which was broadcast as new in the east however was overlooked and guards praised for protecting their state. The wall itself will be reminder of the German Democratic Republic and the politics outcome they failed to achieve yet it shaped the history of Berlin.
Harrison,Hope M, The Berlin wall after fifty years :Introduction
German politics and society, 8/15/2011, Vol. 29 Issue 2, p1-7, 7p (22/01/13)
Ahonen, Perrtti, The Berlin wall a battle for legitimacy in divided Germany
German Politics and Society, Issue 99 Vol. 29, No. 2 Summer 2011
Bonn verurteilt den Mord an der Mauer,” Deutsche Zeitung, 21 August 1962.
Klare Verhältnisse,” Neues Deutschland, 14 August 1961.