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The Berlin Wall and the Cold War: A Simple Definition

by | Oct 17, 2023 | Cold War Tour Berlin

The Cold War was a period of tension and rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union that lasted from the end of World War II until the early 1990s. This conflict was not fought on the battlefield, but rather through politics, ideologies, and proxy wars.

What was the Berlin Wall?

One of the most iconic symbols of the Cold War was the Berlin Wall. Constructed in 1961, it physically divided the city of Berlin in Germany into two parts: East Berlin, controlled by the Soviet Union, and West Berlin, controlled by the Allies.

The Purpose of the Berlin Wall

The main purpose of the Berlin Wall was to prevent people from East Berlin from defecting to West Berlin. The Soviet Union wanted to stop the flow of skilled workers, intellectuals, and professionals to the West, as this brain drain weakened their control over East Germany.

The Construction of the Berlin Wall

The construction of the Berlin Wall began overnight on August 13, 1961. The wall consisted of concrete barriers, barbed wire fences, guard towers, and landmines. It stretched over 155 kilometers (96 miles) and completely encircled West Berlin.

After the wall was built, East Berliners were no longer allowed to freely travel to West Berlin. Families were separated, and many attempts to escape over or under the wall led to tragic consequences.

The Significance of the Berlin Wall

The Berlin Wall became a potent symbol of the division between the capitalist West and the communist East. It represented the struggle between democracy and communism during the Cold War. The wall stood for over 28 years as a physical barrier and a chilling reminder of the tense international climate.

However, the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, marked a turning point in history. The event was followed by the reunification of Germany and signaled the approaching end of the Cold War.

In Conclusion

The Berlin Wall was a physical manifestation of the ideological divide during the Cold War. It symbolized the separation between democracy and communism, and the restrictions placed on the people of East Berlin. While its construction was a testament to the tensions of the era, its fall represented the eventual triumph of freedom and the end of the Cold War.

The Berlin Wall and the Cold War: A Simple Definition