In a congratulatory telegram, Stalin emphasized that, with the creation of East Germany, the "enslavement of European countries by the global imperialists was rendered impossible." Jennifer Rosenberg is a historian and writer who specializes in 20th-century history. [117] As the Ossis swarmed through, they were greeted by Wessis waiting with flowers and champagne amid wild rejoicing. [18][19], The German Democratic Republic (the "GDR"; East Germany) was declared on 7 October 1949. Once he had bled to death, East German guards carried off his body. The second one, Peter Fechter, was not. "It has been shown once again: Freedom is invincible at the end. [45][page needed], Khrushchev had become emboldened upon seeing US president John F. Kennedy's youth and inexperience, which he considered a weakness. [31], Up until 1952, the demarcation lines between East Germany and the western occupied zones could be easily crossed in most places. The houses contained between the wall and fences were razed and the inhabitants relocated, thus establishing what later became known as the death strip. By October 1990, Germany was reunified, triggering the swift collapse of the other East European regimes. The Hungarians prevented many more East Germans from crossing the border and ret… Between 1961 and 1989, the Wall prevented almost all such emigration. 2, 2011, pp. [112], Günter Schabowski, the party boss in East Berlin and the spokesman for the SED Politburo, had the task of announcing the new regulations. He was shot and bled to death, in full view of the Western media, on 17 August 1962. [57], The National Security Agency was the only American intelligence agency that was aware that East Germany was to take action to deal with the brain drain problem. Fragments of the Wall were taken and some were sold around the world. With hard work, individuals living in West Germany were able to live well, buy gadgets and appliances, and travel as they wished. In January 1989 GDR leader Erich Honecker predicted that the Wall would stand for 50 or 100 more years[106] if the conditions that had caused its construction did not change. The direct cost of manpower losses to East Germany (and corresponding gain to the West) has been estimated at $7 billion to $9 billion, with East German party leader Walter Ulbricht later claiming that West Germany owed him $17 billion in compensation, including reparations as well as manpower losses. In reality, the oppression they suffered and the potential consequences they faced kept many from speaking out to the contrary. [71], The top of the wall was lined with a smooth pipe, intended to make it more difficult to scale. Although an eventual reunification of Germany had been intended, the new relationship between the Allied powers turned Germany into West versus East and democracy versus Communism. Although the Soviet Union even threatened the United States with the use of nuclear weapons over this issue, the United States and other Western countries were committed to defending West Berlin. West Berlin inhabitants wave at the newly erected Berlin Wall in 1961. This same division into West and East occurred in Berlin. Since the city of Berlin had been situated entirely within the Soviet Zone of Occupation, West Berlin became an island of democracy within Communist East Germany. When the Berlin Wall was torn down on November 9, 1989, it symbolized the collapse of the Iron Curtain and the liberation of more than 300 million people from the tyrannical grip of … Soon after the Berlin Wall was built, Checkpoint Charlie became an icon of the Cold War, one that has frequently been featured in movies and books set during this time period. Three long sections are still standing: an 80-metre-long (260 ft) piece of the first (westernmost) wall at the Topography of Terror, site of the former Gestapo headquarters, halfway between Checkpoint Charlie and Potsdamer Platz; a longer section of the second (easternmost) wall along the Spree River near the Oberbaumbrücke, nicknamed East Side Gallery; and a third section that is partly reconstructed, in the north at Bernauer Straße, which was turned into a memorial in 1999. By the late 1950s, many people living in East Germany wanted out. [9] 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. Likewise, Soviet military patrols could enter and exit West Berlin. In 1989, a series of revolutions in nearby Eastern Bloc countries—in Poland and Hungary in particular—caused a chain reaction in East Germany that ultimately resulted in the demise of the Wall. In addition, even if travel was approved, GDR travellers could exchange only a very small amount of East German Marks into Deutsche Marks (DM), thus limiting the financial resources available for them to travel to the West. During shooting film crew personnel pulled people up from both sides to stand and celebrate on top of the wall. When it fell, the event was celebrated around the world. Here's why it's still significant. The Wall gave rise to a widespread sense of desperation and oppression in East Berlin, as expressed in the private thoughts of one resident, who confided to her diary "Our lives have lost their spirit… we can do nothing to stop them. A reporter, ANSA's Riccardo Ehrman,[114] asked when the regulations would take effect. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who grew up in East Germany, marked the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on Saturday by declaring that its … West Berlin became an isolated exclave in a hostile land. [4] Along with the separate and much longer Inner German border (IGB), which demarcated the border between East and West Germany, it came to physically symbolize the "Iron Curtain" that separated Western Europe and the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War.[5]. Six percent said Western powers built it and four percent thought it was a "bilateral initiative" of the Soviet Union and the West. In most places only the "first" wall is marked, except near Potsdamer Platz where the stretch of both walls is marked, giving visitors an impression of the dimension of the barrier system. It was forbidden to export East German currency from the East, but money not spent could be left at the border for possible future visits. By the … Berlin: Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung Potsdam and Stiftung Berliner Mauer, Aug. 2017. "[51], United States and UK sources had expected the Soviet sector to be sealed off from West Berlin, but were surprised by how long the East Germans took for such a move. Clay and Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson arrived at Tempelhof Airport on the afternoon of Saturday, 19 August 1961. The East German guards did not shoot him again nor did they go to his aid. [29], By the early 1950s, the Soviet approach to controlling national movement, restricting emigration, was emulated by most of the rest of the Eastern Bloc, including East Germany. 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