For 40 years, the Communist regimes in Eastern Europe appeared unbreakable. The Iron Curtain began to crumble in 1989 and in merely one year, countries have left communism one after another, like domino pieces.
The emblem of the Cold War, Berlin Wall has been called the “physical representation” of the Iron Curtain. For 28 years, the enormous construction divided in two a city – Berlin and a country – Germany. The fall of the Berlin Wall is the most important symbol of the communist bloc failure.
The construction of the wall began on August 13, 1961 to stop the westward departure of the German people. In the east it was called “the anti-fascist protection wall” while in the west people named it “Wall of Shame”. 155 km of shame of over 3 m high, of which 43 km through the heart of Berlin.
The frontier was also made of km of trenches, bunkers, hundreds of watch towers and barbed wire. Although the construction of the wall began in 1961, Germany was divided since the end of World War II. In 1945, Reich capital was separated between the Allied powers in the west and the Soviet Union in the east, and in 1949 two countries were created: Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic.
In 1952, East Germany closed its frontier with West Germany, worried about the emigration of population. There were weak points though, where people were still capable to pass. More than 2.5 million Germans made it to west between 1949 and 1961.
Although on June 15, 1961 East German leader Walter Ulbricht officially stated that there will not be a wall built, on August 13, the eastern part of Berlin is encircled by barricades and barbed wire. The wall is set up in various stages. In 1962 a barrier was added, 90 feet on the inside, being created a strictly controlled “restricted area”. Houses on this strip were demolished and people moved. The area, mined and full of trapping wire, offered a large field of fire for the guards.
In 1965 concrete walls began to appear and, over the years, observation towers were added, while patrols and security were boosted.
The “four generations wall”, ameliorated in 1975 was the last version. It was assembled from slabs of 3.6 meters high and 1.2 meters wide. The wall was reinforced with motion sensors, fencing net and barbed wire, trenches against vehicles, and on the crest wall it was installed a polished pipe, which would have made even more difficult to climb.
The eight passing points were created expressly for specific types of people that could pass through. The most important was Checkpoint Charlie, which was intended only to Allied personnel and non-German citizens.
During the history of the Wall, military personnel, officials and Allied diplomats could enter East Berlin without passport control. Also, Soviet patrols could enter without restriction in the West Berlin.
On November 9, 1989 the East German government choose to permit visits to West Germany, but the minister for propaganda was not properly informed therefore a lot of confusion was developed. Tens of thousands of Berliners assailed the crossing points, claiming to move without restriction in the West. Overwhelmed by tens of thousands of people and in the absence of understandable instructions, border guards were improbably to open fire, leaving the crowds to go across. Entrümpelung Berlin