From 1961 to 1989, the Berlin Wall completely cut-off West Berlin to East Berlin, and East Germany! The Wall was a guarded barrier made of concrete and loaded with security measures to prevented people from crossing it.
During the 28 years that the Berlin Wall stood in Germany, it served as a physical and visual symbol of division and control. We’ve compiled a list of the most important facts about the Berlin Wall. These facts serve as an important reminder of the past and can also serve as a useful guide for the future!
Here are the most insightful and interesting Berlin Wall Facts!
Short on time? One of these tours in Berlinis the best way to see the most!
Let’s take a look at interesting facts about the Berlin Wall and what events led to its construction.
Following Germany’s defeat in World War II, at the Yalta Conference in 1945, Germany was divided into four zones of occupation!
Great Britain, France, and the United States would occupy the Western, Northwestern and Southern portions of Germany, and the Soviet Union would occupy the Eastern portion! Berlin, which was located in Soviet territory, was divided into East and West zones.
In 1949 the zones occupied by Britain, France, and the United States become known as West Germany. The Soviet zone became East Germany.
West Germany was a democratic republic while East Germany became a communist country aligned with the Soviet Union.
On August 12, 1961, Communist Party leader, Walter Ulbricht, signed the order for a barricade dividing East and West Berlin!
The next day, on August 13, 1961, security forces, chief Erich Honecker, ordered police troops to form a barbed wire fence and began construction of cement barricades!
Following August 13, 1961, except under special circumstances, travelers from East and West Berlin were rarely allowed to cross the Berlin Wall border.
Facts About the Berlin Wall and the Partitioning of Berlin
Photo credit – nbcnews
Did you know that the Berlin Wall was used to keep people in, not out? It was constructed and manned to stop the continuous flow of Germans leaving to live and work in the West. To carry out the purpose it was constructed for, certain measures and tactics were used to keep the Berlin Wall effectiveness under check!
Here are 10 facts about the Berlin Wall during the 28 years it stood dividing the city.
The Berlin Wall began as a border of barbed wire fencing and developed into a fortified concrete barrier, with armed East German Berlin Wall guards!
East Germany militarized the entire border with the West, laying more than one million land mines and deploying around 3,000 attack dogs!
The wall between East and West Berlin was nearly 12 feet high and approximately 27 miles long!
The Berlin Wall was reinforced with barbed wire, spikes, metal gratings, bunkers and vehicles that were made into obstacles to deter attempts of scaling the wall or escape by digging underneath it. The wall also had 302 guard towers and 55,000 landmines!
The Berlin Wall was actually two walls! The 27-mile portion of the boundary dividing Berlin into East and West consisted of two concrete walls, between this area was “the death strip”
The “Berlin Wall death strip,” or “no man’s land” was the buffer zone between the two walls, where guards were allowed to shoot anyone trying to escape!
At least 138 people died either by gunshot, by fatal accident while trying to escape, or from suicide on the border grounds!
The last fatality from the Berlin Wall occurred in March of 1989 when an East Berliner attempted to fly over the wall in a hot air balloon but crashed into the power lines!
It is estimated that approximately 5,000 people successfully made the escape from East Germany to the West by managing to cross the Berlin Wall undetected!
The West side of the Berlin wall was covered in graffiti! The East Berlin Wall was not.
The years leading up to the dismantling of the Berlin Wall seemed to foreshadow the eventual end of this cement divider. After years of growing hostility and mounting tension, the end of the wall seemed imminent!
Let’s look at some facts that sparked the tearing down the Berlin Wall!
On June 12, 1987, US President, Ronald Reagan, delivered a speech at the Brandenburg Gate. He challenged General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and leader of the USSR, Mikhail Gorbachev, to “tear down this wall!”.
In April of 1989, the border troops of the German Democratic Republic were instructed to stop using firearms to prevent border violations!
On November 4, 1989, more than half a million people took part in a pro-freedom rally in East Berlin, demanding free elections!
On November 6, 1989, a preliminary law passed that granted travel and emigration rights between the sections of the wall, with restrictions. Travel time was still limited, and authorities could subjectively deny permission to travel!
On November 7, 1989, the East German cabinet resigned. Following that, nearly half of the members of the policymaking committee for the communist party were removed and replaced the next day!
Did you know that the scene we’ve all seen on TV of enthusiastic mobs gathering around the wall and engagingly tearing down the structure was never supposed to happen? There was a different plan hatched to reunite East and West Germany, but that plan got lost in translation!
Here are some interesting facts about tearing down the walls of Berlin, and the man who accidentally sparked the fall of the Berlin Wall!
On the evening of November 9, 1989, at a press conference, East German politburo member, Günter Schabowski, prematurely announced that restrictions on travel visas would be lifted. When Schabowski was asked when the new policy would begin, he replied, “Immediately, without delay.” However, the policy was not supposed to be announced until the following day, and would still have required East Germans to go through a lengthy visa application process!
Schabowski’s confusing answers and inaccurate media reports that border crossings had opened drove thousands of East Berliners to the Berlin Wall!
At the Bornholmer Street checkpoint, chief officers on duty faced a mob growing in number and frustration! After much confusion and a delay in instructions, the overwhelmed officers opened the border crossing on their own, and the other gates soon followed!
On November 9th and 10th, 1989, triumphant crowds tore down the Berlin Wall piece by piece! They used shovels, sledgehammers, hammers, and their bare hands!
The days following the destruction of the wall, several new crossing points were opened and tens of thousands of people crossed over into West Berlin!
It is estimated that more than two million people from East Berlin visited West Berlin that weekend to participate in a celebration! It was probably the greatest street party of all time!
On October 3, 1990, East and West Germany officially become reunited under the name of the Federal Republic of Germany!
Some Germans who chipped away at the wall sold pieces of it on eBay. The people who did this were called ‘wall woodpeckers’!
The tearing down of the Berlin Wall helped to put an end to the Cold War!
Editor’s Note: One of the best ways to get to know Berlin is through its museums!
Recent Facts and Information About the Berlin Wall
Photo credit – kastatic.org
Although the Berlin Wall came down many years ago, the memory of the wall still remains.
Here are some recent fun facts about the Berlin Wall!
On August 14, 2018, a Berlin council member announced that a previously unknown section of the wall had been recently discovered in a residential area of the city! The wall had been concealed by overgrown bushes, which is why it had remained unknown for so long.
The most famous border crossing was known as Checkpoint Charlie. Today, it is a tourist attraction where some original remains of the border crossing mix with reconstructed parts, monuments, and visitor facilities!
Hundreds of thousands of people visit the Berlin Wall each year!
There is a walking and cycling route through the city that follows the original path of the Berlin Wall called “Berliner Mauerweg” (Berlin Wall Trail)!
Prepare for your trip! We think knowing the history of Berlin is as important as packing the right dinner shirt!
Conclusion on Facts About the Berlin Wall in Germany
Winston Churchill referred to the Berlin Wall as the Iron Curtain. Churchhill implied that the Soviet Union had thrown a curtain over the Eastern European countries so that no one knew what was going on, and he referred to the word “iron” to imply that it was impenetrable.
This was an accurate representation of the wall during that time. The wall was viewed as a symbol! It was a symbol of both communist oppression and democracy, of economic strength and political freedom.
Today, it symbolizes a trying time in world history, but it also shows how oppression can be conquered and barriers can be broken!
We hope you enjoyed this list of the most interesting Berlin Wall Facts, and that you’ve learned something new about this fascinating time in world history!
Emma Johnson lives to travel! Born in Washington D.C., Emma is a hotel connoisseur and a staff writer at Hotel Jules. An army brat, Emma got the travel bug early and has never been able to stop. Now, she has proudly visited 70+ countries and plans to visit every country in the world! Passionate about her ukelele (obviously) and her family, Emma eventually wants to retire in Thailand and write a book about all of her travel experiences.