The map of the newly divided Germany
After World War Two, Germany had to face many restrictions on the way it operated. The army was dismantled, and the Allies divided up the country into four sectors. Great Britain, France, and America controlled the Western portion of the nation. Western Germany (also called the Federal Republic of Germany) was not a truly free state like most other European nations, but the capitalist system made it seem much more appealing compared to the east.
Eastern Germany (also called the German Democratic Republic) was the portion of Germany given to the Soviet Union. The reasons why they were given this portion was: the Soviets had lost more soldiers and citizens, they had already occupied this part of Germany, and the Premier of the Soviet Union was Stalin. Stalin was a very powerful and influential man, and the other leaders of the allied nations wanted to appease him. Inside of Eastern Germany was the city of Berlin. Berlin was the capital of Germany and the allies soon realized no one nation could completely control it fairly, so they decided to divide this area into four sections.
The Eastern Germans as a way to stop emigration to Western Germany constructed the Berlin Wall. The year that the wall was built emigration dropped from 207,026 to just 21,365 people. The wall also constructed as a means of propaganda against the West. It was called "The Anti-Fascist Protection Wall" by the East German officials. The wall was made almost overnight on August 13th, 1961. 45,000 sections of 3 x 12 ft. Reinforced concrete was used, and just one of these concrete sections weighed 3 tons. This wall didn't run through Berlin only, but it completely encircled the western part of the city to separate it from Eastern Germany. In between the two walls there was a 27-mile area that was about 160 yards wide known as the "death strip". The death strip was equipped with bunkers for soldiers, guard dog runs, anti-vehicle trenches, and watchtowers with armed soldiers. Over 138 people died in the death strip.
Even though the wall was constantly patrolled, 5,000 people escaped through it. Eastern Berliners stayed determined about their quest for freedom so they dug tunnels, crashed cars into the barriers, and even flew over the wall on a hot air balloon. The success rate for getting to the West was only 50% and many of the captured people were imprisoned or killed for their crime. One such person was Günter Litfin. Günter Litfin was the first person to die trying to cross the Berlin Wall, even though he didn't actually cross the death strip and go over the walls. He worked in West Berlin and even owned an apartment there, but the roadblocks and barbed wire stopped Günter from making his way to his new home and freedom. A canal was the only way he could make his way to the West. He swam through the canal but was found by Eastern officers and told to swim back. Günter lifted his hands but was shot.
His body is removed from the water
The fall of the Berlin Wall was a moment that defined the end of the Cold War and the beginning of a new start for a to-be-united Germany. Erich Honecker the head of the political party The East German Communist Party made an announcement on November 9th 1989. He declared that any citizen of the GDR could cross the border whenever they wanted. Crowds of Eastern and Western Germans surged towards the wall and tore it down; the wall is still in pieces with most of them used either to rebuild Germany or they sit in museums for reflection back towards the time not so long ago when the world was more divided. My father said about the fall of the wall, “It happened so suddenly we knew it would happen eventually, we couldn’t believe it did that night”.
The legacy of the Berlin Wall will live on through the people who experienced the glory of the end of an era. The reuniting of the German people was a moment that will be remembered for years to come.