In post-World War II Germany, the Berlin Wall was erected on August 16, 1961, along the demarcation between the eastern sector of Berlin controlled by the Soviet Union, and the western sectors occupied by the United States, France, and Great Britain. East Germany, officially the German Democratic Republic (GDR), was a Communist state that existed from 1949 to 1990 in the former Soviet occupation zone of Germany.
The Soviet sector was by far the largest and covered most of east Berlin, including Friedrichshain, Kreuzberg, Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg, Kreuzberg, and Lichtenberg. Its twofold purpose was to prevent well-educated East Germans from leaving East Germany — a "brain drain" — and to impede approximately 80 spy centers and organizations from interfering with the Russian sector.
The threat of a second Great Depression loomed large in Europe, and Germany was one of the hardest-hit areas. Most German cities had been all but obliterated, and transportation systems lay in ruins. Routinely, refugees fled from East to West in search of a society sound enough for them to work for the barest daily essentials.
In a rare move, the Allied victors decided to allay an economic crisis by helping to rebuild the most-devastated areas as quickly as possible. That effort was called the Marshall Plan, in honor of George C. Marshall, then U.S. Secretary of State, who first called for Allied participation in the restoration of Europe. The success of that strategy earned Marshall a Nobel Peace Prize.
The "Berlin Crisis" involved a controversy so bitter and so sustained that at its height, world leaders feared that a misstep could trigger a nuclear war. The crisis unfolded through a war of words, diplomatic negotiations, superpower summits, and military posturing and preparations, — thus the term "Cold War" — as East and West disputed over Berlin`s future.
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