The Berlin Wall was a wall separating the Eastern side of Berlin from the Western side. It was a symbol of The Cold War until it fell in 1989. Here are ten facts about the Berlin Wall.
Construction of the Berlin Wall began on August 13 1961 as a way of separating the three zones controlled by France, Britain and America from the zone controlled by the Soviet Union.
After World War Two, Germany was split into four zones, each occupied by one of the four Allied powers that defeated the Nazis. The zones controlled by France, Great Britain and America became West Germany, or Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Federal Republic of Germany). The Soviet-controlled zone became East Germany, or Deutsche Demokratische Republik (Germany Democratic Republic). Germany's capital, Berlin, was situated in Soviet-controlled East Germany, but as this city was the administrative area for the Allied forces, it too was split into four. This meant that France, Great Britain and America controlled West Berlin, whereas the Soviet Union controlled the East. Relations between America and the Soviet Union soured considerably during much of the second half of the Twentieth Century. The Berlin Wall was a symbol of this hostility, a physical representation of what was called the Iron Curtain.
The Berlin Wall was constructed as a way of preventing East Germans from entering West Germany. It was not so much a boundary for West Germans wanting to enter the East, who were able to do so by obtaining a permit several weeks in advance. It didn't face much opposition by the western powers as its construction confirmed that the Soviet Union were not planning to take over West Berlin.
Official figures show that at least 136 people died trying to cross the border. People attempting to get from East to West were regarded as traitors and guards were instructed to shoot at them if they attempted to cross, although not to kill them.
The west side of the Berlin wall was covered in graffiti. The East side was not.
The Berlin Wall was something of a propaganda disaster for the Soviet Union and East Germany. It showed the communists to be tyrannical in the way they controlled the movement of their people and their willingness to shoot at people they considered to be traitors.
West Berliners used the Berlin Wall as an ideal way of getting rid of rubbish. If they had anything that needed throwing away, they threw it over the wall. After all, it wasn't as if they would be made to go over it to fetch it back.
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