The Berlin Wall

Berlin Wall

From 1945 until 1990, Germany was divided into West and East Germany.  Berlin was the capital of East Germany while Bonn was the capital of West Germany.  Berlin was split into four separate sectors.  The American, British, and French sectors formed the western part of Berlin.  The former Soviet Union controlled all of East Berlin.  Although the Soviet Union and the western countries were not officially at war during this time, they distrusted each other.  This 45 year period of tension between eastern and western countries was called “The Cold War”.


After World War II ended in 1945, life in East Germany was difficult for many people.  Almost everything was strictly controlled by the government.  People there dreamed of escaping to a better life in a western country such as West Germany, Britain, or the United States.  Quite often, they would do so by entering West Berlin.  Once there, they could move to another country.  Sometimes, western TV and newspapers showed East Germans running into West Berlin.  The East German government was deeply embarrassed by this.  The Soviet Union, which controlled much of East Germany, was also dissatisfied.


In the summer of 1961, an East German politician named Walter Ulbricht ordered a wall to be built around West Berlin.   On August 13, the East German army closed the border between East and West Berlin.  No one could pass through on either side.  Four days later, East German workers poured concrete to make the wall. When it was finally finished in 1965, the wall completely surrounded the three western sectors of Berlin.  It was 155 kilometers long and it wrapped around all of West Berlin.


The wall became a symbol of a divided world.  It stood as a reminder of the Cold War until November, 1989. People from West and East Berlin broke down parts of the wall as the East German police watched and did nothing.  Less than a year later, it was taken down.  At last, the Cold War was over.

Did you enjoy this lesson? If you did, why not try this one on Marwencol or this one about The RMS Queen Mary?