The Berlin Wall
There were guard dogs, searchlights, minefields and bunkers used along the wall to prevent
Hi, I'm Christina and today on About.com we'll be taking a look at The Berlin Wall. The Berlin Wall became the symbol of the Cold War and was seen as the ideological and physical barrier between East and West. The wall was erected in 1961 and brought down in 1989. After World War II, Germany was divided into four occupation zones, each controlled by a major occupying power within the country. France, England, the United States and Soviet Russia each claimed a quarter of the country, and while the capital Berlin fell entirely in Soviet Russia's area, the city was also divided. Increased hostility between East and West, Communism and Democracy, led to several closures of routes between the Soviet section of the city and the rest. In August 1961 the East German army closed the border between East and West Berlin and the wall was erected. Originally constructed with barbed wire, the Berlin Wall was evolved over its 28-year life into enormous concrete slabs and guard towers. There were guard dogs, searchlights, minefields and bunkers used along the wall to prevent defections from East to West. An area of 'no-mans land' was left for soldiers to shoot Berliners attempting to escape. It is estimated that over 200 people were killed along the Wall. By using tunnels, secret compartments in vehicles and other methods, around 5,000 people managed to defect to West Berlin. Certain checkpoints were set up with the most famous being Checkpoint Charlie, although access between East and West had to be authorized and was restricted. For many Germans, the Wall had immediate effects on everyday lives. Many Berliners had jobs in the Western section of the city and were unable to keep them, families were split, and contact severed. One of the most famous chapters during the Cold War was Ronald Reagan's challenge to Mikhail Gorbachev, the then leader of Soviet Russia, at the Brandenburg Gate in 1987. Reagan challenged Gorbachev's comments about increased freedom and peace with the famous phrase, "General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"The fall of the Berlin Wall coincided with the regression of the Eastern Bloc. The Cold War was drawing to a close and Communism declining in countries like Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia where many East Germans escaped through to get to the West. In early November 1989 an East German government official announced various checkpoints were being opened between East and West.Picked up by Western media, the news reached Eastern Berliners who overwhelmed guards along the wall and made their way through. Eastern and Western Berliners were unified and scaled the walls and celebrated. In the ensuing weeks the Berlin Wall was torn down. Segments of the wall remain in the city and in museums all over the world. East and West Germany became a single German state in October 1990.