East Berlin, 1963. Wall of Shame


Auferstanden aus Ruinen: Images of (East) Berlin

Berlin Wall
The Berlin wall was built by the German Democrat Republic that completely separated East and West Germany including East Berlin. The border came to symbolize the Iron Curtin between Western Europe and the Eastern bloc. The wall included guard towers placed along large concrete walls which watched over a large area. Before the wall was built 3.5 million East Germans avoided Eastern Bloc emigration restrictions and escaped from the GDR, many by crossing over the border from East Berlin. On November 9 1989 after several weeks of civil and rest all GDR citizens could visit West Germany and West Berlin. Crowds of East Germans climbed onto and a crossed the wall, joined by West Germans on the other side in a celebratory atmosphere.external image berlinmap_01.jpgexternal image Berlin_Wall.jpgexternal image wall.jpgDani Santay Catherine Nicholson

Berlin BlockadeThe Soviets blockaded US, UK, and French zones to gain leverage over the division of Germany. The new Allies form West Germany and have West Germany write a constitution. The USSR was mad about this and cut off everything from supply lines to electricity. West Germany would not have been able to survive without the help of the US, UK, and French. The Berlin airlift supplied 2000 tons a day worth of supplies to West Germany. The blockade was lifted when Stalin’s request of having a Council of Foreign 

  • Berlin Wall
    Intimidating – East German tanks are lined up at Warschauer Bridge on 13 August 13, 1961 as the border is closed.

Berlin Wall
East German soldiers, left, set up barbed wire barricades on this day 50 years aNiemand hat die Absicht, eine Mauer zu errichteNiemand hat die Absicht, eine Mauer zu errichten!”

 (Nobody has the intention to erect a wall) – 15 June, 1961
Walter Ulbricht, the East German communist ruler declared this less than two months before construction began on the night of August 13.

East Germany were trying to prevent more citizens from leaving as over 3.5 million had emigrated or defected in the preceding years by crossing into West Berlin and travelling from there.n!” (Nobody has the intention to erect a wall) – 15 June, 1961[IT CAN BE CALLED A "VOTING WITH  THE FOOT" -FLEEING FROM COMMUNIST EAST GERMANY]

Berlin Wall
An East German couple is turned away from the border, blocked by East German soldiers and barbed wire, after trying to cross into West Berlin on 13 August, 1961.
Residents did not know the effect the Wall would have on their lives. People were separated from their families, friends and jobs
Berlin Wall
This photo shows some of the first work carried out on the Berlin Wall in August 1961.
It is thought that up to 200 people could have died whilst trying to cross the border into West Berlin.
Günter Litwin was the first victim of the ‘Death Strip’. He was shot down by East German border guard in Berlin on August 24, 1961.

Berlin Wall
A boy sitting on the shoulders of another child peers over the wall just days after it was constructed.
The wall eventually got much higher and was covered with broken glass and barbed wire to eter escape attempts.
Berlin Wall
A dying man is carried away by the border guards who shot him on 17 August, 1962 as he tried to flee East Germany.
Peter Fechter was left for 50 minutes in the middle of nowhere before being taken to hospital.
In 2007, researchers discovered that troops were given ‘shoot-to-kill’ orders at the border.
According to The Sunday Times, a written order, issued to Stasi secret service agents, states: “Don’t hesitate to use your weapon even when border breaches happen with women and children, which traitors have often exploited in the past.”
Berlin Wall
 year on – on August 13, 1962 West Berlin youth protestors carry a black cross with the slogaAn “We Accuse”. They are driven back from the sector border wall by tear gas from grenades fired by East German border guards near Wilhelmstrasse

Berlin Wall
Reverend Martin Luther King, American civil rights leader, visited Berlin in 1964

Berlin Wall

Conrad Schumann, a former member of the East German Army, was the first soldier to escape over the wall into the more free West.
Here, he points at a photograph depicting the moment of his border crossing on August 15, 1961.
This image was taken in 1981 as West German commemorated the 20th anniversary of the wall.

Berlin Wall
1989 – the year it came down: Although the Wall came down later that year, refugees were still in danger.
Here, two East Berliners are taken away by border guards, who can be seen holding their rifles to them, after a thwarted escape attempt at the Chausseestreet border crossing on 10 April 10.
Cars carrying tourists who are allowed cross the border can be seen in the background.


Ministers held.external image berlin-soldier.jpgexternal image berlin_wall_03.jpgexternal image berlin-wall-392-350.jpgAllen Davis, Lexi Sherwood, John Millhimes

Throughout the late 1940s and 1950s, millions of East Germans migrated across the border into West Germany, and many of them did so by moving through West Berlin. Often times they were drawn by the economic opportunities created by the Marshall Plan. However, many of those living in West Berlin would travel to East Berlin where the prices were significantly lower. The loss of labor damaged East Berlin, and in turn the Soviet Union which subsidized the fledgling communist bloc because East Berlin was also responsible for repaying war damage done to Poland and the Soviet Union. For a time, the Soviet Union set up a blockade, refusing access by street or rail to West Berlin.

One of the interesting facts about the Berlin Wall was that it originally started as a length of barbed wire set up by the East Berlin government (with approval from Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev). It was located a short distance away from the border so as to not infringe on the West Berlin border so if one walked up to the fence—and later the wall—you would actually be standing in East Berlin. Soldiers were on hand during the construction with orders to shoot any who tried to cross. This prototype of the Berlin Wall split families and caused economic hardship to those East Berliners who worked in the West. However, the barrier was also built entirely around West Berlin as well. The Allies protested, but not strongly, only choosing to rotate brigades of American troops through West Berlin after construction of the Wall began in 1961.

The Berlin Wall was almost a hundred miles long and a second fence was built three hundred feet in. The area in between was swept away and became a no man's land and was often referred to as the "death strip." The Wall itself evolved over the years, starting as a simple wire fence, then seeing some improvements to the wire, before turning into a concrete wall, and finally a reinforced concrete wall with a smooth pipe running along the top to make it harder to scale. Additionally, border towers, bunkers, barbed wire, and other deterrents were set up. It is this fourth version of the Wall that is most recognizable.

The gates surrounding West Berlin were very strict. There were only twelve areas to cross at and all save two were reserved for Germans only. While officials, diplomats, and soldiers were allowed free passage into East Berlin, West Berliners had to undergo significant restrictions.

Some of the most compelling facts about the Berlin Wall involve the approximately 5,000 people were able to escape across the Wall and into West Berlin. Close to two hundred were shot and killed and another two hundred were injured while trying to cross. Some of the other escapes were truly cinematic--from tunneling to driving a short car underneath a gate to creating small ultralights and flying across.
Foreigners, on the other hand, were more than welcome to cross into East Berlin. The Germans welcomed their money and so long as they were thoroughly searched before entering and leaving, they were largely left alone.
A great change in the history of the Berlin Wall came on August 23rd, 1989. The country of Hungary dissolved its border restriction withAustria, and some 13,000 East Berliners escaped through Hungary. Through series of events, a tremendous mob formed at the gates of the Berlin Wall, demanding entry into West Berlin. The only deterrent left to the guards and city officials was to use massive lethal force on their countrymen, something they weren't willing to do. Throughout the days and weeks, people would go to the wall with sledgehammers and demolish it piece by piece.
One of the unfortunate facts about the Berlin Wall is that only a little bit of it remains today, not even the watchtowers that stood in East Berlin. However, the Brandenburg Gate was left as a reminder of the edifice and its significance on the whole of Germany. Located near the former location of the infamous Checkpoint Charlie is the Berlin Wall Museum.

The Berlin Wall museum features, of course, exhibits and stories about the history of the Berlin Wall. Some of the escapes are truly incredible. The museum is not altogether spacious, and can lack organization, but has exhibits that paint an important picture of Berlin's recent past.

Berlin Wall Germany East West Communism Oppression
Ralph Crane / Time Life Pictures / Getty
    At the end of World War II, Germany was divided into four zones. While the French, British and American cooperated, the Soviet zone grew more isolated. This fence separated friends in Berlin in 1953.

    Berlin Wall

    • “Niemand hat die Absicht, eine Mauer zu errichten!” (Nobody has the intention to erect a wall) – 15 June, 1961
      Walter Ulbricht, the East German communist ruler declared this less than two months before construction began on the night of August 13.
      East Germany were trying to prevent more citizens from leaving as over 3.5 million had emigrated or defected in the preceding years by crossing into West Berlin and travelling from there.

    Berlin Wall Germany East West Communism Oppression
    Robert Lacke / Time Life Pictures / Getty
      Bricks in the Wall
      As tensions grew between the Soviet bloc and the western allies, passage between the zones shrank to a trickle. In 1961, the split was formalized with the construction of a wall. These East German troops and workers are increasing the height of the barrier between east and west Berlin.

      The Rise and Fall of the Berlin Wall

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      Berlin Wall Germany East West Communism Oppression
      Robert Lacke / Time Life Pictures / Getty
        A woman attempts to peer through the wall in 1961. The erection of the wall split families in half. Many eastern Berliners were cut off from their jobs.

        Berlin Wall Germany East West Communism Oppression
        Stan Wayman / Time Life Pictures / Getty
          Across the Divide
          A daughter who escaped to the West talks to her mother over the wall in 1961.

          Berlin Wall Germany East West Communism Oppression
          Paul Schutzer / Time Life Pictures / Getty
            For many years, East Germans contrived ways to get to the West. This 17-year-old boy climbed over the wall in 1961. Two West Berlin police officers helped him reach safety.

            Black and white photo of the Berlin Wall
            The Berlin Wall shortly after its construction

            Berlin Wall Germany East West Communism Oppression
            Paul Schutzer / Time Life Pictures / Getty
              No Man's Land
              The construction required that some streets, like this one seen in December 1962, running alongside the barrier were torn up, making them impassible to many vehicles.

                Berlin Wall Germany East West Communism Oppression
                Sad Reflection
                A West German woman looks out at the wall in 1962. With the completion of construction, West Berlin became an isolated enclave in a hostile land.

              Berlin Wall Germany East West Communism Oppression
              Will McBride / Camera Work / The Kennedy Museum / AP
                Unable to stop the construction of the wall, President John F. Kennedy made a symbolic visit to the Brandenburg Gate in June, 1963, where, in a speech intended to demonstrate his unity with the citizens of West Berlin, he declared, Ich bin ein Berliner, I am a Berliner.

                Will McBride / Camera Work / The Kennedy Museum / AP
                  Unable to stop the construction of the wall, President John F. Kennedy made a symbolic visit to the Brandenburg Gate in June, 1963, where, in a speech intended to demonstrate his unity with the citizens of West Berlin, he declared, Ich bin ein Berliner, I am a Berliner.

                  Berlin Wall Germany East West Communism Oppression
                  Dirck Halstead for TIME
                    Historic Visit
                    U.S. President Ronald Reagan traveled to Berlin in June of 1987. Here, he views the wall from the balcony of the Reichstag.

                    June 12, 1987, Reagan arrived in Berlin, on the occasion of the city's 750th birthday. He was scheduled to speak on the Western side of the Brandenburg Gate, for years the city's symbolic dividing line. His speechwriters had drafted an address intended as much for Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, with whom Reagan was forging a close relationship, as for the 20,000 people who gathered to hear him speak. In the speech, Reagan would call on Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall, but that language was opposed strongly by Reagan's National Security Council and the State Department, who feared it would be used by hard-liners in the Kremlin to discredit Gorbachev. When the President's entourage arrived in Berlin, Reagan's team was still arguing over the final wording. State and NSC submitted yet another draft of the speech. But in the limousine ride to the Wall, Reagan told his deputy chief of staff, Kenneth Duberstein, that he intended to issue the fateful challenge to Gorbachev. "It's the right thing to do," he said.
                    At the time, the Soviet news agency TASS called Reagan's visit to the Wall "openly provocative, war-mongering." But listen closely to a recording of it today: the speech sounds as much like an invitation as it does a challenge. "There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace," Reagan says. As he goes on, you hear scattered claps and hollers. "General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate!" Reagan says. The crowd starts to erupt. "Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate!" At this point, 20,000 Berliners are cheering Reagan on. In his diary, published last month, Reagan wrote, "I addressed tens & tens of thousands of people — stretching as far as I could see. I got a tremendous reception — interrupted 28 times by cheers."

                    Berlin Wall Germany East West Communism Oppression
                    Wally McNamee / Corbis
                      Famous Words
                      Reagan used the setting in front of the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin to address Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet leader, in a speech that included the plea: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."

                      Berlin Wall
                      US President Ronald Reagan acknowledges the crowd after his speech in front of the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin, where he said “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” on June 12, 1987.

                      Berlin Wall Germany East West Communism Oppression
                      Gary Hershorn / Reuters
                        Reagan and Gorbachev met in Washington in 1987

                        Berlin Wall Germany East West Communism Oppression
                        Guy Le Querrec / Magnum
                          Guards stand on the wall in 1989. By the mid-1980's the wall had become the most enduring symbol of the cold war.

                          Berlin Wall Germany East West Communism Oppression
                          Raymond Depardon / Magnum
                            No Longer Divided
                            On November 9, 1989, East German leader Egon Krenz rescinded travel restrictions for East Germans and tens of thousands of them flooded the checkpoints along the wall, demanding entry into the West. In the face of the growing crowd, the guards yielded.

                            Berlin Wall Germany East West Communism Oppression
                            Anthony Suau for TIME
                              The Wall Comes Down
                              A West Berliner soaked by a water cannon takes a sledgehammer to the wall on November 11, 1989. The fall of the wall paved the way for a re-unified Germany.

                              Berlin Wall Germany East West Communism Oppression
                              James Nachtwey / VII
                                East and West German hands join in tearing down barbed wire from top of the wall on December 1, 1989.

                                Nov. 9, 1989: The Berlin Wall Falls

                                The Berlin Wall Falls 1989 NBC Coverage Pt1

                                external image wall.jpg

                                Berlin Wall
                                A man on top of the Wall near the Brandenburger Gate chisels a piece of the Wall on November 10.
                                People scrambled to the barrier on November 9 when East German Politburo member Günter Schabowski declared that travel restrictions for residents would begin “immediately”.
                                It is thought that the junior MP made an error as he was only meant to be announcing temporary bureaucratic procedures to make it easier for East Germans to travel abroad.
                                He was pressed hard by journalists Riccardo Ehrman and Peter Brinkmann  who both claim they asked the question that led to the biggest political blunder 

                                in modern history.

                                Berlin Wall
                                The border between East and West Germany officially opened on 9 November, 1989.
                                This image was taken the following morning as people felt freedom for the first time in 28 years

                                Berlin Wall
                                There is no definitive number of how many people died trying to cross the Berlin Wall but researchers believe it is between 150 and 200.
                                The area where people were killed or died in escape attempts was infamously known as the Death Strip.
                                Portraits of some of these victims are displayed at the Berlin Wall Memorial at Bernauer Strasse in the city.

                                The opening of the Wall at Berlin Bornholmer Strasse 1989

                                 8 videos 

                                Berlin Wall
                                Some parts of the wall are still standing in some parts of the city. They serve as a reminder of Germany’s troubled past.
                                However, they also highlight another phenomenon – the idea of selling goods online. Pieces of the Berlin Wall are currently available to purchase for where between €30 and €300on eBay.
                                Germany Map

                                WILLIAM COLLINS DONAHUE

                                The Wall still divides Germans after all these years

                                From Monday's Globe and Mail

                                The Berlin Wall would have turned 50 years old on Saturday. The Wall is long gone, of course, but its legacy lives on in a complicated relationship it still maintains with modern-day Germans.
                                During a recent trip to Berlin, I found many people still grappling with that relationship. To them, the Wall represents not only the unification of the German people in November of 1989, when the Wall came down, but the brutal police state that existed the previous 28 years.

                                Enter Udo Lindenberg, a pop-culture icon from 1980s Germany. With his Bob Dylan knockoff singing style, occasionally indecipherable political mumblings and signature black hat and dark glasses, he remains a cultural phenomenon. Everyone in Germany knows of him, even if they don’t admit it.
                                In the 1980s, Mr. Lindenberg inserted himself into Cold War politics quite personally – by falling in love with a girl from East Berlin and then writing the pop hit The Girl from East Berlin.

                                The Girl from East Berlin

                                Front Cover

                                Arena books, 2007 - Fiction - 656 pages
                                Described as a docu-drama rather than a novel because of the extent of its fact-based storyline and material; in re-creating the milieu of a city, James Furner has achieved for the Berlin of the post-War period what Christopher Isherwood achieved for the Berlin of 30 years before.This is a realistic drama on an epic scale, set in Berlin immediately prior to the building of the Wall, which was to divide the city for three decades. Packed with humorous observations, it is a poignant story of true love intercepted by the political conflict and intrigues of the East-West power blocs.In retrospect it takes the form of a historical novel of the most authentic type: i.e. not based on an imaginative reconstruction of the past, but drawing on detailed diary entries, and the author?s immediate report of strongly felt personal events, resurrected for publication after a period of almost 50 years.Few novels appear on such a grand scale as this: what begins as an inauspicious chance meeting in an East Berlin art shop leads to an adventure exploring the many social and psychological aspects characterising the division of a great European capital. It is an encyclopaedia of the soul of a city; unlikely again to be described so comprehensively or in such depth.It is as much a political novel as a love drama, especially in so far as the former impacts so heavily on the outcome of the latter. For all these reasons, the question has to be asked: if the 10 greatest true love stories of the 20th century were to be listed, then would this need to be included amongst their number?Perhaps most striking is the immediacy of its style in describing characters and events, for this contributes a compassion and authenticity more reminiscent of a memoir than a work of fiction.Is this book more correctly described as a novel or reportage? Only the reader can decide. The fact remains that this is a new and exciting literary genre, developed for most vividly telling a story which has to be told.
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                                 The Stasi, East Germany’s secret police, then coerced her into spying on Mr. Lindenberg. This story of forbidden love and apparent betrayal is the basis for the new hit musical, Hinterm Horizont (Beyond the Horizon), which premiered in Berlin earlier this year and is packing the house.
                                 this musical portrays the Stasi largely as a bunch of incompetent dunces rather than the lethal menace they really were.

                                Germany's musical take on life with the Wall