The Berlin Wall was a barrier constructed by the German Democratic Republic (GDR, East Germany) starting on 13 August 1961, that completely cut off (by land) West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin. The barrier included guard towers placed along large concrete walls, which circumscribed a wide area (later known as the "death strip") that contained anti-vehicle trenches, "fakir beds" and other defenses. The Eastern Bloc claimed that 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. In practice, the Wall served to prevent the massive emigration and defection that marked Germany and the communist Eastern Bloc during the post-World War II period.
The Berlin Wall was officially referred to as the "Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart" (German: Antifaschistischer Schutzwall) by GDR authorities, implying that neighbouring West Germany had not been fully de-Nazified. The West Berlin city government sometimes referred to it as the "Wall of Shame"â€”a term coined by mayor Willy Brandtâ€”while condemning the Wall's restriction on freedom of movement. Along with the separate and much longer Inner German border (IGB) that demarcated the border between East and West Germany, both borders came to symbolize the "Iron Curtain" that separated Western Europe and the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War.
Before the Wall's erection, 3.5 million East Germans circumvented Eastern Bloc emigration restrictions and defected from the GDR, many by crossing over the border from East Berlin into West Berlin, from where they could then travel to West Germany and other Western European countries. Between 1961 and 1989, the wall prevented almost all such emigration. During this period, around 5,000 people attempted to escape over the wall, with estimates of the resulting death toll varying between 100 and 200.
In 1989, a series of radical political changes occurred in the Eastern Bloc, associated with the liberalization of the Eastern Bloc's authoritarian systems and the erosion of political power in the pro-Soviet governments in nearby Poland and Hungary. After several weeks of civil unrest, the East German government announced on 9 November 1989 that all GDR citizens could visit West Germany and West Berlin. Crowds of East Germans crossed and climbed onto the wall, joined by West Germans on the other side in a celebratory atmosphere. Over the next few weeks, a euphoric public and souvenir hunters chipped away parts of the wall; the governments later used industrial equipment to remove most of the rest. The physical Wall itself was primarily destroyed in 1990. The fall of the Berlin Wall paved the way for German reunification, which was formally concluded on 3 October 1990.
The Rise and Fall of The Berlin Wall
For 28 years, the 28 mile Berlin Wall had split a city in two and divided a nation with two million tons of concrete, 700,000 tonnes of steel, attack dogs, tank traps, death strips and tripwires. While its dangers kept most GDR citizens at bay, others were spurred on to overcome it, by digging under it, hiding in car trunks, flying over it in hot-air balloons, and even surfing around it. To mark the twentieth anniversary of the Wall's historic demise, The Rise and Fall of the Berlin Wall charts its epic history and vividly brings to life the most daring escapes and interviews former border guards, politicians, spies and escapees.
The Wall - A World Divided
A PBS Documentary, with insights from political leaders like George H.W. Bush, Mikhail Gorbachev and Condoleezza Rice, explore the origins and demise of the notorious Berlin Wall, the structure's affect on ordinary German lives and the peaceful end to the Cold War.
The Wall Comes Down (1989)
Gorbachev makes clear Eastern European countries were free to determine their own destinies. In Poland Solidarity enters into negotiations with the Government, and would end up winning a landslide election. In Hungary the Government chooses to symbolically reinter Imre Nagy, and open its frontier with Austria, which is then crossed by increasing numbers of holidaying East Germans. Erich Honecker refuses to implement reforms, despite subtle pressure from Gorbachev and growing protests across East Germany. The bloody end to dissent in China is never far from the minds of protesters. Just as protests reach a peak, Soviet forces in East Germany are stood down, and Honecker is replaced by an unimpressive Egon Krenz. As a concession travel restrictions are lifted but the new regulations are miscommunicated, and the Berlin Wall is suddenly and irrevocably breached by masses of East Germans. In the momentum, the fate of communism in East Germany is sealed. Interviewees include MiklÃ³s NÃ©meth, Egon Krenz and George H. W. Bush. The pre-credits scene includes Gorbachev explaining that by 1989, force alone could not secure the world.
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Berlin Wall Speech
- President Reagan at the Brandenburg Gate
President Reagan's remarks on East-West relations at the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin, Germany on June 12, 1987.
The Road To The Wall / Berlin Wall
Directorate of Armed Forces Information and Education. The Road to the Wall. 1962. The Road to the Wall is a 1962 short documentary film produced by Robert Saudek. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short. This program has been declared obsolete for use within the sponsoring agency, but may have content value for educational use. Producer: Department of Defense. Creative Commons license: Public Domain.
Busting the Berlin Wall
The Lost Chance of 1989
The present financial crisis has brought us to a historical turning point like that of 1989. As a seventy year-old system collapsed, LaRouche posed the only plausible solution to that failed system.
Behind The Wall 1990
Roger Waters - Behind The Wall 1990
Berlin Crisis of 1961 - Operation Readiness
Berlin Crisis of 1961 - Operation Readiness - Cold War Documentary Summary - Berlin Wall.
The Big Picture