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What Did East Germany Call the Berlin Wall?

by | Oct 17, 2023 | Cold War Tour Berlin

When exploring the history of the Berlin Wall, one question frequently arises: What did East Germany call the Berlin Wall? The official name given by the German Democratic Republic (GDR) to this iconic symbol of division was “Antifaschistischer Schutzwall,” which translates to “Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart” in English.

The Purpose of the Berlin Wall

The Berlin Wall was constructed in 1961 by the GDR as a physical barrier separating East Berlin (controlled by the Soviet Union) from West Berlin (controlled by the Allied forces). Its primary purpose, as claimed by East Germany, was to prevent Western “fascist” influences from infiltrating the socialist state. The GDR justified this action by emphasizing the Antifascist Protection Rampart’s role in protecting its citizens from the perceived dangers posed by the capitalist West.

The Construction and Layout

The Berlin Wall stretched approximately 155 kilometers (96 miles) across Berlin and the surrounding areas. It consisted of various components, including concrete walls, watchtowers, barbed wire fencing, trenches, and a “death strip” equipped with anti-vehicle trenches, tripwires, and beds of nails. This formidable structure aimed to deter and prevent any attempts to cross from East to West.

The wall also featured additional security measures, such as the installation of guards and patrolling dogs trained to detect potential escapees. The border security was further strengthened by a wide zone known as the “no man’s land,” heavily monitored and illuminated to dissuade escape attempts.

Life Under the Wall

The construction of the Berlin Wall not only physically divided East and West Berlin but dramatically impacted the lives of those living on both sides. Families were suddenly separated, friendships torn apart, and access to essential services hindered.

In East Berlin, the wall served as a symbol of oppression, limiting personal freedom and creating a sense of isolation from the outside world. The GDR government heavily controlled communication channels, restricting travel, and imposing strict regulations on its citizens.

Meanwhile, in West Berlin, the wall was a constant reminder of the Cold War and the division of Germany. The city became an island surrounded by East German territory, resulting in unique socio-cultural dynamics and political tensions.

Downfall and Symbolism

The Berlin Wall became a powerful symbol of the division between communist and capitalist ideologies. It represented the struggle for freedom, the suppression of human rights, and the consequences of the Cold War.

Public sentiment regarding the wall shifted in the late 1980s, leading to widespread protests calling for its demolition. Ultimately, on November 9, 1989, the East German government announced that citizens could freely cross the border. Thousands took advantage of this historic opportunity, leading to the eventual reunification of East and West Germany.

In Conclusion

The Berlin Wall, known officially as the Antifaschistischer Schutzwall, was constructed by the German Democratic Republic to separate East and West Berlin. It stood as a physical and ideological barrier between the socialist East and capitalist West, dramatically impacting the lives of millions of people.

The fall of the Berlin Wall symbolized the end of an era and the reunification of a divided Germany. Today, many remnants of the wall remain as tangible reminders of the challenges faced by individuals living under its shadow.

What Did East Germany Call the Berlin Wall?