Some of the most interesting Berlin Wall facts relate to the inspiration for its creation. After World War II, Germany was divided into four different occupation zones. The Soviet Union came to occupy one of these zones, while France, Britain, and the United States assumed control of the others. Eventually, the French, British, and U.S. portions were combined to create one larger, democratic zone. The Soviet Union portion came to be known as East Germany and was a communist-driven territory.
Berlin suffered the same general fate as Germany. In other words, after WWII, it was eventually divided into two. One side was democratic, while the other adhered to communist rule. Over time, the capitalistic democratic side, or West Germany, became quite the economic success. Its residents were enjoying a quality of life that simply wasn’t enjoyed in communist East Germany. East Germans who wanted to enjoy the same quality of life started emigrating to the western side in the 1950's. By 1960, emigration was still a major contributing factor to the declining population in East Germany, and government officials decided that something needed to be done.
The history of the Berlin Wall sees the original barbed wire version being constructed overnight on August 12-13, 1961. As you might imagine, many Berlin residents were shocked when they woke up the next morning. Gone was the freedom to move back and forth between East Berlin and West Berlin, and this undoubtedly did more to upset East Germans in the long run. It didn’t help that over time, the wall was fortified and that East German guards were eventually allowed to shoot anyone who tried to cross the barrier.
Berlin Wall facts see the barrier existing for no less than 28 years. What was originally a barbed-wire fence became a rather complicated and complete wall that was largely made out of concrete. At its most complete stage, the Berlin Wall stretched more than one-hundred miles and ran through the heart of Berlin. Portions also wrapped around West Berlin so that the more free, democratic side would be very difficult to access.
Before the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, it is estimated that some 5,000 people successfully crossed the barrier. As for those who died while trying to cross, there are no exact numbers. Some estimate that anywhere from 100 to 200 people were killed in the process. Other opinions put the number at more than 200. Suffice it to say that the history of the Berlin Wall is laden with sad tales, though the end of the story is a happy one. Not long after the wall came down, Germany went back to being one unified state, and all citizens have enjoyed a more free existence ever since.
Image: visitBerlin/Wolfgang Scholvien (flickr)