Western Europe


What was the Berlin Wall

At the end of World War II, Germany was divided into four zones, each occupied separately by the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and the U.S.S.R. The city of Berlin, while located entirely within the Soviet-occupied zone, was itself divided into four zones. Soon thereafter, the Soviets stopped cooperating with the other Allied powers. The three zones occupied by the United States, United Kingdom, and France joined together to create West Germany, while the Soviet zone became East Germany. A similar split occurred in the city of Berlin.

The city of Berlin held the dichotomy of east versus west, Communist versus capitalist. Many people who lived in East Berlin could see that those in West Berlin generally had a higher standard of living. It is estimated that over two million East Germans fled to the West within Berlin. In August 1961, the Communist government, determined to stop this mass exodus, began to build the Berlin Wall, a wall that physically divided East and West Berlin. On the west side, the wall became the location of spray-painted messages that voiced free opinions; on the east side of the wall lay a deserted area of barbed wire and armed guards called “No Man’s Land.”

For decades, the Berlin Wall stood as the physical version of the psychological “iron curtain” that separated east from west. On November 8, 1989, the Berlin Wall came tumbling down, and soon thereafter the era of the Cold War also ended.


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