For thirty years, an iron curtain was placed across Germany separating East and West Germany. This iron curtain was called the Berlin Wall. This wall not only separated families and friends but it was the cause of East Germanys loss of freedom and democracy. The Berlin Wall was a symbol of communism and oppression, but the fall of it would lead to a new world of freedom and opportunities. The creation of the wall, the reasons on which it was built upon and the impact of the wall had on the world are all important factors to be explored.
World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a War which involved almost every part of the World. It was a conflict between the Allies and the Axis powers. The Allies consisted of Great Britain, the Soviet Union, The United States and China while the Axis consisted of Germany, Japan and Italy. World War II ended in the mid 1940s after the surrender of the Axis powers. A conference was held in Potsdam, Germany to set up peace treaties. Also at this conference, the countries that fought with Hitler were punished as well as Germany itself. Germanys primary punishment was the reduction of the size of their nation and the division of German Territory between the Allied powers to ensure proper reconstruction of Germany into democratic power(history.com).
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The Soviet Union had other plans to punish Germany. They also starved and caused poverty in West Berlin in what is known as the German blockade to get the U.S and other western allies out of the city. The U.S. did not retaliate. Instead they airlifted supplies to West Berlin such food, fuel and other goods. Unable to push the allies out, dictator Joseph Stalin ended the blockade. In 1958, tensions were raised again. Many refugees were fleeing East Berlin to West Berlin due to the communist government they were experiencing. Most of these refugees were skilled workers. Summits, conferences and other negotiations were set up but refugees were still escaping. In just one day, August 12, 1961, about 2,400 people fled from East to West. So, that night Premier Khrushchev ordered the East German government to stop any one trying to leave. Two weeks later a makeshift barbed wire and concrete block wall was built by police workers, East German army and others. This became known as the Berlin Wall. It would have divided Germany for several years and be the result of a growing tension between two superpowers, the US and the USSR.
Before the wall, it was possible to travel the East-West border. There were even train and subway lines to take. There were three checkpoints at the wall which each had East German soldiers to check you before allowing you to pass. It was rare that they would allow them to cross. Overtime, the wall was replaced by a tall, thick mass of concrete with an enormous pipe on top. It was nearly impossible to climb over. However, from 1961 to 1989, more than 5,000 East Germans managed to pass the border. The people were going through great measures to make it over the wall and challenged their intelligence to do so. One man threw a hammer and a line from the roof of a building, pulled a cable, and with his wife and son, slid down it in a homemade chair lift to safety on the other side. (Mirabile 11).
The Eastern Germans who had been oppressing their people began to notice a decline in their economy as Eastern Berliners fled to the west. Walter Ulbricht stated that they needed to do something about it. The people had heard about the idea of a wall being put up. On the 15th of June 1961, Ulbricht spoke at an international press conference No one has the intention of creating a wall but obviously this was false considering on August 13, 1961 the wall was built. West berliners did not agree with the wall just as much as the people of East Berlin. They were led by their Mayor Willy Brandt who criticized the United States for not responding.
When the leaders of East Berlin suggested their decision to close off East Berlin, the U.S. only saw the idea as a way of trying to stabilize the city. Both we and West Germans consider it to our long-range advantage that potential refugees remain [in] East Germany. But soon Americans discovered the severity of the wall and went from them being bystanders to activists. The wall was not only stopping refugees leaving East Berlin but was also preventing the economic links between East and West Berlin. Their disagreement led to the Cold War. All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words,
Ich bin ein Berliner (Famous Quotes).
The fall of the Berlin Wall was brought about by the ending of the Cold War. The Cold War began to end in the mid1980s following the Arms Race. The Soviet Union and the other communist powers were beginning to weaken and the new leaders were more reasonable and willing to make a deal. The democratic powers took advantage of their weakness to manipulate their leader Mr. Gorbachev to destroy the Berlin Wall and begin the reconstruction of Europe. Ronald Reagan stated Mr Gorbachev open this gate! Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall! beginning a new Europe, uniting families, and promoting democracy.
The fall of the Soviet Union is greatly due to President Reagan and his policy known as Reaganomics. Its domestic changes were an attempt to weaken the Soviets in the Arms Race. Reagans plan to win the cold war was to bankrupt the Soviets before they could defeat the United States. The policies ended the Cold War then making it possible to demand the freedom of the East Berliners. The Soviets were in a weak position having no choice but to submit to the Democratic Nations.
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