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Who Built the Berlin Wall during the Cold War?

by | Mar 7, 2024 | Cold War Tour Berlin

During the Cold War, one of the most significant events was the construction of the Berlin Wall. This physical barrier separated East and West Berlin, symbolizing the divide between the democratic and capitalist West and the communist East. In this blog post, we will explore the individuals and organizations involved in the construction of this infamous wall.

1. The East German Government

The primary driving force behind the construction of the Berlin Wall was the East German government, led by Walter Ulbricht. As the General Secretary of the ruling Socialist Unity Party, Ulbricht was determined to prevent the mass exodus of East Germans to the more prosperous West. The East German government viewed the wall as a necessary measure to maintain control over its citizens.

2. The German Democratic Republic (GDR)

The German Democratic Republic, often referred to as East Germany, played a vital role in constructing the Berlin Wall. It was the government of East Germany that initiated the decision to separate East and West Berlin, and subsequently, oversaw the entire construction process. The GDR’s border troops, police, and construction workers were directly involved in building the wall.

3. Soviet Union

As East Germany was a satellite state of the Soviet Union, it received significant support from its Soviet allies. The Soviet Union provided political, financial, and logistical assistance to the GDR, thereby enabling the construction of the Berlin Wall. Soviet military forces also assisted in guarding the wall and ensuring that it remained secure against any attempts to breach it.

4. Construction Workers

The actual physical construction of the Berlin Wall involved a considerable workforce composed of both East German and Soviet citizens. Thousands of construction workers, including engineers, masons, and laborers, were employed to build the wall. They worked tirelessly under strict supervision and faced severe consequences if they failed to meet deadlines or breached security protocols.

5. Stasi (Ministry for State Security)

The Stasi, the East German secret police, played a crucial role in planning and executing the construction of the Berlin Wall. They coordinated closely with the government, military, and construction workers to ensure the wall’s effectiveness. The Stasi was responsible for implementing surveillance systems, interrogating suspects, and preventing any potential escapes from East Germany.


The construction of the Berlin Wall during the Cold War was a collaborative effort between the East German government, supported by the Soviet Union, and the labor force. The wall aimed to restrict the movement and prevent the mass exodus of East Germans to the West. Understanding the various parties involved in building the Berlin Wall offers insights into the political motivations and consequences associated with this iconic structure.

Who Built the Berlin Wall during the Cold War?