The Rise and Fall of The Berlin Wall
The events that brought around the building of the Berlin Wall began almost sixteen years before the first barrier was built. In 1945, after World War II, Berlin, the former capital of Germany, was in ruins. Germany, and also Berlin herself were divided into four quadrants, each controlled by one of the Allied victors of WWII. The American, Great Britain, and French sectors came together and formed the Federal Republic of Germany, and the Soviet sector became the German Democratic Republic. West Germany and West Berlin, and the Federal Republic of Germany, were capitalist. Whereas the German Democratic Republic, also called the GDR was Communist. Berlin, a city divided, lay within Soviet controlled East Germany. West Berlin was a haven of freedom within a state of totalitarianism control. During the next three years East Germany steadily declined and a steady flow of refugees were fleeing to West Germany (Danforth).
The Cold War came next. A nuclear face off between two opposing world superpowers, USA and USSR began. Berlin being itself divided, was the front line in a war that wasn’t a war. In 1948, Communist East Germany, frustrated with the exodus of hundreds of thousands of young skilled laborers, closed all border crossings in and out of East Germany, trapping over a million West Berlin citizens with little food, money, or fuel over a hundred miles inside East Germany. For 462 days the Allies, mainly the US, provided the Berlin Airlift, flying thousands of pounds of food, fuel and supplies into West Berlin. The Soviets lifted the blockaded routes in 1949 (Newseum).
For the next twelve years about two and a half million refugees fled East Germany to the west through the ‘escape hatch’ that was Berlin. The GDR knew they needed to stop the exodus. Their work force was suffering and they had lost almost fifteen per cent of their population. On August 13, 1961, at two o’clock in the morning, the first barrier...