November 9th 1989, marks the 25th anniversary of the most significant event in recent German history: the Fall of the Berlin Wall. Thanks to the co-editing of Lorenzo Muzzin Stifanich of 4A SIA, you can learn more by reading and watching this page.
For 30 years, the Berlin Wall was the defining symbol of the Cold War, separating families and keeping the people from jobs and opportunity in the west. The Berlin Wall stood until November 9, 1989, when it was announced that citizens of the East Germany could cross the border whenever they pleased. That night, ecstatic crowds gathered by the wall: some crossed freely into West Berlin, while others brought hammers and picks and began to demolish the wall itself.
The joy and excitement of so many people celebrating are impressive. Definitely a must-go… for party lovers! People climbing fences, pushing trolleys, singing and dancing…“The feeling in the air was electric, as if some great force had been let loose” Joseph, Portugal
This is a 6-minute video with the breaking news of 9th Novembre 1989. Have a look at the people’s expressions and clothes. You can get an idea of how fashion comes and goes.
Why was a wall separating Berlin ?
The official purpose of this Berlin Wall was to keep Western “fascists” from entering East Germany and undermining the socialist state, but it primarily served the objective of stemming mass defections from East to West. More than 2.6 million East Germans escaped to West Berlin or West Germany from 1949 to 1961 (total population of East Germany was about 17 million!).
Why were people escaping from East Berlin?
The victorious forces (Britain, America, France and Russia) at the end of the war divided Germany into four zones. They also divided Berlin into four zones.
Each of the victorious nations controlled one zone and one sector of Berlin. The Allies (Britain, America and France) ran their zones differently to the areas controlled by Russia. On one hand, Russia wanted to keep Germany as weak as possible to ensure that Russia itself was never attacked again by Germany. On the other, the Allies believed that a strong Germany would enable democracy to prosper after the years of Nazi dictatorship. They also believed that Europe needed a strong Germany so that their economies would prosper. As a consequence, the living conditions in the West from an economical and social point of view were much better than in the East.
What did the wall look like?
The Wall was longer than 140 kilometres and about 3.6 metres high. In June 1962, a second, parallel fence was built some 100 metres farther. The buildings contained between the fences were razed and the inhabitants relocated, thus establishing what later became known as the Death Strip.
The Death Strip was covered with sand or gravel so that footprints could be clear to notice, easing the detection of trespassers and also enabling officers to see which guards had neglected their task and, above all, keeping the field of fire clear for the wall guards.
During its existence, more than 5000 people tried to escape the eastern side of Berlin to arrive on the western side. It is also said that about 250 people were killed while trying the escape.
On 9th November 1989, the Wall was finally demolished. People from the eastern and the western side could finally reunite.
Which were the most creative ways people went over the wall?
- on a tightrope
- down a zip line
- without a windshield
- with a passport from hef
- on a speeding train
- in a hot air balloon
- in a well-aged tunnel
- in a uniform
If you want to find out more …read this page
Is it still possible to see the wall?
Some parts of the wall are still present and represent a memorable sight if you visit Berlin! During the years of its existence, the Wall became a kind of “wiki” artwork with amazing and colorful works of art. Here is my personal photogallery of the Berlin Wall
- What does the word “wall” makes you think of?
- Can you think of other historically relevant walls?
- There are invisible walls around us. What are they?
- What/who made German Democratic Republic (East Germany) change its policy and finally remove the trespassing ban?
- J.F. Kennedy during one of his most famous speech said ” I’m a Berliner”. What did he mean?