After the end of World War II, Berlin was occupied by four countries: the USA, Great Britain, France and the USSR. And since after the victory over the common enemy the confrontation between the USSR and the NATO bloc began to grow with renewed vigor, soon Germany, and Berlin in particular, was divided into two camps the socialist GDR (German Democratic Republic) and the democratic FRG (Federal Republic of Germany). This is how Berlin became bipolar. It is worth noting that until 1961, movement between the two states was practically free and thrifty Germans managed to get free Soviet education in the GDR, but work in the western part of the country.
The lack of a clear physical border between the zones led to frequent conflicts, smuggling of goods and a massive outflow of specialists to the FRG. In the period from January 1 to August 13, 1961, 207 thousand specialists left the GDR. The authorities claimed that the annual economic damage from this amounted to 2.5 billion marks.
The construction of the Berlin Wall was preceded by a serious aggravation of the political situation around Berlin, since both sides of the conflict (NATO and the USSR) claimed the city as part of the newly formed states. In August 1960, the government of the GDR introduced restrictions on visits by citizens of the FRG to East Berlin, citing the need to suppress their "Western propaganda". In response, all trade relations between the FRG and the GDR were severed, and both sides of the conflict and their allies began to build up their military presence in the region.
In conditions of aggravation of the situation around Berlin, the leaders of the GDR and the USSR held an emergency meeting, at which they decided to close the border. On August 13, 1961, construction of the wall began. In the first hour of the night, troops were brought up to the border area between West and East Berlin, which for several hours completely blocked all sections of the border located within the city. By August 15, the entire western zone was surrounded by barbed wire, and the immediate construction of the wall began. On the same day, four Berlin metro lines and some city rail lines were closed. Potsdamer Platz was also closed, as it was in the border zone. Many buildings and residential buildings adjacent to the future border have been evicted. The windows overlooking West Berlin were bricked up, and later, during the reconstruction, the walls were completely demolished.
Construction and refurbishment of the wall lasted from 1962 to 1975. By 1975, it acquired its final form, turning into a complex engineering structure under the name Grenzmauer-75. The wall consisted of concrete segments with a height of 3, 60 m, equipped on top with practically insurmountable cylindrical barriers. If necessary, the wall could be increased in height. In addition to the wall itself, new watchtowers, buildings for border guards were erected, the number of street lighting equipment was increased, and a complex system of barriers was created. From the side of East Berlin along the wall there was a special forbidden zone with warning signs, after the wall there were rows of anti-tank hedgehogs, or a strip dotted with metal spikes, nicknamed "Stalin's lawn", then there was a metal mesh with barbed wire and signal flares.
When trying to break through or overcome this grid, signal flares went off, notifying the border guards of the GDR about the violation. Further, there was a road along which patrols of border guards moved, after it there was a regularly leveled wide strip of sand to detect traces, then the wall described above, separating West Berlin, followed. Towards the end of the 80s, it was also planned to install video cameras, motion sensors and even weapons with a remote control system.
By the way, the wall was not insurmountable, only according to official information, in the period from August 13, 1961 to November 9, 1989, there were 5075 successful escapes to West Berlin or the Federal Republic of Germany, including 574 cases of desertion.
The GDR authorities practiced freeing their subjects for money. From 1964 to 1989, they released 249 thousand people to the West, including 34 thousand political prisoners, receiving $ 2, 7 billion from the FRG for this.
Not without casualties, according to the GDR government, 125 people died while trying to cross the Berlin Wall, more than 3, 000 were detained. The last perpetrator was Chris Geffroy, who was killed while trying to illegally cross the border on February 6, 1989.
On June 12, 1987, US President Ronald Reagan, giving a speech at the Brandenburg Gate in honor of the 750th anniversary of Berlin, called on Mikhail Gorbachev, General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee, to demolish the Wall, thereby symbolizing the Soviet leadership's desire for change. Gorbachev heeded Reagan's request ... after 2 years.
At 19 hours 34 minutes on November 9, 1989, the burgomaster of East Berlin, Gunter Schabowski, announced the authorities' decision to open the checkpoint on live television. When the shocked journalist asked when it would come into force, he replied: "Immediately."
Over the next three days, more than 3 million people visited the West. The Berlin Wall still stood, but only as a symbol of the recent past. It was broken, painted with numerous graffiti, drawings and inscriptions, Berliners and visitors to the city tried to take away pieces of the once mighty structure as a souvenir. In October 1990, the lands of the former GDR entered the FRG, and the Berlin Wall was demolished in a few months. It was decided to preserve only small parts of it as a monument for future generations.