The Berlin Wall Conflict- Raychel Johnson

The Berlin Wall Conflict began in 1958, with the wall actually being put up on August 13th, 1961. The conflict began at the end of World War II, when the Allied Powers divided Germany into four sections and the capital, Berlin, into four sections, each one being organized by either the United States, the Soviet Union, France, or the United Kingdom. As tensions rose between the Soviet Union and the United States, so did the tensions in Germany, as different states occupied different zones. Even though the Allied Powers planned to reunite Germany to become their own state, this conflict caused Germany to be divided between the Soviet Union and the rest of the Allied Powers, East and West Germany. The biggest problem between these parties was whether Germany’s government should be run by a democracy or a Communist society. West Germany, controlled by France, United Kingdom, and the United States, was called the Federal Republic of Germany, while the Soviet Union-occupied zone of East Germany was called the German Democratic Republic.

The economies between East and West Germany were drastically different. Since West Germany was run by France, the United Kingdom, and the United States, they set up a capitalist economy, which created massive rapid growth in their economy. On the other hand, in East Germany, the Soviets began to take all of the equipment and materials in East Germany and send it back to the Soviet Union, belittling their economy and necessities. After East Germany became its own state, the amount of influence the Soviet Union had upon it caused it to become a Communist state, which further busted the economy and the freedoms allowed in the country. With the amount of success occurring in West Germany, especially compared to the poor state of East Germany, hundreds of thousands began fleeing East Germany, mostly through West Berlin. Most of those who escaped were younger, so East Germany was not only losing a major part of their population but their work force as well. To prevent even more of their population from leaving, as East Germany had already lost 2.5 million people by 1961, East Germany decided to build a wall around the city of East Berlin, as that was where most of the people had been leaving through. Although this is the most common belief, others believe that the Soviet Union built the wall around Berlin to prevent the spread and influence of democracy and capitalism from infiltrating the Communist state.

So with this, the Berlin Wall was put up by the order of Nikita Khrushchev, leader of the Soviet Union. In the night of August 12-13th, 1961, East Berlin construction workers put in the Berlin Wall, also referred to as Berliner Mauer in German. With the very physical border came the physical separation of people with other people, with a community and lifestyle, and even with jobs that they had in West Berlin. This wall stretched over 100 miles, running through the center of Berlin and around West Berlin, cutting it completely off from East Germany. The wall started out as a barbed-wire fence held up with concrete posts, and a few days after this was placed, they replaced the fence with concrete blocks and barbed wire on the top. The Wall also changed in 1966 when it was replaced with a solid concrete wall and steel supports, and then finally in 1975 it was changed to tall concrete. As these events folded out during the Cold War, the NATO-allied West Germany and the Allies did not want to start any other conflict using force because of the looming nuclear threat. The United States exclusively thought that with the invasion and stabilization of East Berlin for the Soviets, it would make it easier for West Berlin and Germany become more stable as a whole, as well as the spread of the Iron Curtain (the spread of Communism) might slow down or cease with the control of the heart of Berlin. As long as the Soviet Union stayed with their areas of Germany, they could do whatever they pleased. While the Berlin Wall was up, roughly 5,000 East Germans made successful escape attempts over and under the Wall, but nearly 200 East Germans dies while attempting to scale the Wall.

As Communism began to lose its strength in Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and other bordering Communist countries in 1989-1990, more opportunities were given to East Germans to escape to the Western world. Then very suddenly, a government official from East Germany announced on November 9th, 1989 “Permanent relocations can be done through all border checkpoints between East Germany into West Germany”, meaning that the borders through East and West Germany were open. People nearly immediately started chipping away at the Berlin Wall, and now the chips and slabs of the Berlin Wall are collectibles sold as pieces for tourism and museums. With this weakening of Communism, East and West Germany came back together as a single country on October 3rd, 1990.

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One thought on “The Berlin Wall Conflict- Raychel Johnson

  1. This is a very interesting subject. The Berlin Wall had such profound affects on the lives of the Germans in both East and West Germany. Even though Germany was a center for struggle between communism and capitalism, it was interesting, almost surprising that no heightened violence was sparked due to the wall. I guess I hadn’t realized how many people were leaving East Germany for West Germany before the wall was put up, and how great of an effect this was having on East Germany. 2.5 million people is a lot to lose from an economy and a lot for another to take in. In this case the wall was effective in limiting escapees from East Germany. It seemed that Germany never would have wanted to divide on its own, or not in the way of a massive wall, but rather the Berlin Wall only came to be because of outside influence.

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