A Brief History of Some Walls: The Berlin Wall

Photo of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

Source: The New York Times



I think it is safe to say that the Berlin Wall is one of the first borders the mind conjures when the topic of  the end of The Cold War springs into life. In addition, the memories of  Berlin Wall teaches a lesson  on the policy of isolationism and forced  efforts against emigration [hopefully]. The Berlin Wall is the first in the series  of  ‘A Brief History of Walls’ that I will explore, a timely piece as a reminder of the 25th anniversary of the fall of the wall on  November 9th.

By the end of World War II, bitter feelings run deep; Germany became the new scramble for Africa – France, Britain, Soviet Union and USA were the grabbers. Western influence in Germany and Europe to a larger extent, frustrated communist operation in Germany especially since a growing number of anti-communists westerners openly rebuked the regime. According to Frederick Taylor, just after midnight on 24th of June, 1945, saw the Berlin Blockage at a start. Furthermore, H. Harrison posits the view that East German leaders were arguing from 1952 that the borders should close to prevent flight to the attractive West. From 21st September, 1960, East German required that Western diplomats needed special visa to enter the East. According to Frederick Taylor, Checkpoint Charlie was the alias for the famous border crossing from West to East Germany; millions of people living in East Germany could not legally cross over to the West.

The Wall constructed on August 13th, 1961 under the code name ‘Red,’ had special focus on Berlin. [Remember, Germany was now divided into West and East sections]. The Wall consisted of killing zones, concrete and barbwire. It is a monument which reflects the Cold War [1945-89] in Europe. The Cold War was a war of ideas. As Jeffrey A. Engel puts it, the Wall served not only as a physical barrier but a symbolic split of the Europe. It is interesting to note that a formidable wall in Berlin was not a new concept. In 1730, Frederick William built a challenging wall not only to keep Berlin enemies out but to prevent desertion from the army and to tax travellers and goods. On November 9th, 1989, the fall of the Berlin Wall marks the end/decline of the Cold War in Europe. According to Glenn Hubbard and Tim Kane, whilst millions imprisoned in a failing economic regime in East Germany suffered, the guards killed at least 246 persons trying to escape across the border.



Engel, Jeffrey. The Fall of the Berlin Wall: The Revolutionary Legacy of 1989. Oxford University Press, 2011.
Glenn Hubbard, Tim Kane. “The Great Wall of Texas: How the U. S. Is Repeating One of History Blunders.” 9th July 2013. The Atlantic. 01st November 2014 .
Harrison, H. “Driving the Soviets Up the Wall: A Superally, A superpower, and the Building of the Berlin Wall:1958-61.” Cold War History: Volume 1, Issue 1 06 September 2010: 53-74.
Harrison, Hope. “The Berlin Wall, Ostpolitik, and Detente.” German Historical, Washington, DC, Bulletin Supplement 1 2004: 5-16.
Taylor, Frederick. The Berlin Wall: 13 August 1961- 9 November 1989. Bloomsbury, 2012.

14 responses »

  1. Pingback: A Brief History of Some Walls: The Great Wall of China | Yelhispressing

  2. I was at a Yardsale where there were little plastic boxes with pieces of the Berlin Wall for sale for a dime. The sellers had no idea what the Berlin Wall was or why their parents would keep such stuff.


      • Yes! Even after we explained to the couple selling them about The Berlin Wall, and possibly why this would have significance to their parents (whose stuff they were selling off) they had absolutely no interest in them what so ever. So my sister and I each got a piece of the Berlin Wall for a dime. Also got an brilliantly illustrated Dante’s Inferno in German.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I am here mumbling like crazy. After explaining how could they still stay nonchalant? I have heard of Dante’s Inferno but never read it. From my readings, it looks like you have a gem in that illustration copy. JoHanna I must say your experiences in travelling comcerning Art, history etc always leave me in wonder, awe- affected. Never hestitate to share.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Thank you. I kinda hurled myself at life……often it worked and often it didn’t, but gosh…I ended up living a very long life and it sure has been just amazing!


      • It definitely sounds amazing to me, you are one of my passports on WordPress. I promise I am not leeching, even if you do not see a comment I am in the shadows.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh dear. ok let me try that again. Through your blog I travel to many places. Your blog is like a passport and I am always reading even if you do not see a comment.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Yes. I get that. I have not been to many places I really wanted to see. I went and got old! While still healthy and traveling, I know that my list of ‘want to know’ is going to outlive me. I do not think I will get to Africa for example, but I have a friend whose family remains in Vietnam and I will have a place to stay that will offset the very expensive plane ticket to get there. That kind of thinking has taken over. So I follow several websites on Africa because I do not think I will be going there. Understand your message! Appreciate your showing up at my website, which is so much fun for me, and has connected me with so many amazing people globally. You being one of them.


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