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Friday Facts: The Berlin Wall

This year it’s been 50 years since the Berlin Wall was build. The Berlin Wall separated East Berlin from West Berlin for nearly three decades until it finally came down in 1989.

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courtesy of E. Liparova

This picture was taken last Saturday during the 50th anniversary commemorations, from the Bernauer Strasse where there’s still a section of the Berlin Wall standing.

Quick History

After WWII Germany was divided between America, France, Great Britain and the USSR; Berlin too was divided in four. Soon Germany became a pawn between two world ideologies (Capitalism vs Communism) and the Berlin Wall became a symbol of the Cold War. West Germany’s economy bloomed and many East Germans tried to flee West. The easiest way to this was by reaching West-Berlin, a capitalist island in the communist East.  To prevent a complete exodus the communists erected the Berlin Wall, practically overnight on the 12th and 13th of August 1961.

Facts on the Berlin Wall:

  • After the 1961 wall was built, another one was erected parallel to it but 100 yards further. The space in between was  known as the Death Strip. It was covered with gravel to spot footprints and filled with tripwire booby traps and mines. Guards were also ordered to shoot anyone crossing.
  • Checkpoint Charlie was the third and most famous checkpoint opened by the US; it got its name from the phonetic alphabet. It was the scene of a dramatic stand-off between American and Soviet tanks in 1961 and from 1962 it was the only place where foreigners visiting Berlin could cross from West to East and back again.
  • The first version of the wall was no more than a barbed wire fence. The 1975 incarnation of the Berlin Wall would be the most memorable:  45000 separate sections of reinforced concrete, 3.6m high and 1.5 wide. It had barbed wire, mesh fencing, signal fencing and watch towers.
  • The Fall of the Berlin Wall happened in 1989 when communism already started the crumble. After a new law was made to allow East Germans to travel freely on the 9th of November 1989 thousands East Germans flocked to the Berlin Wall and people were seen hugging and dancing on top of the wall.

bebelplatz_6462_3Berlin has since become a very popular place to visit and is renowned for its art and culture scene. Take a tour in Berlin on a segway and zoom through the beautiful city visiting all the key places of Berlin’s rich history, like the Berlin Wall.

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