Berlin Wall - History and Facts | History Hit

Berlin Wall

Berlin, Berlin, Germany

The Berlin Wall was a barrier that separated East and West Berlin from 1961 to 1989. Today it is one of the most striking symbols of the Cold War.

Lily Johnson

14 Jul 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Berlin Wall

The Berlin Wall was an 87 mile long concrete barrier between East and West Berlin, a symbol of the Cold War and an embodiment of the so-called ‘Iron Curtain’ between eastern and western Europe.

Berlin Wall history

Originally a barbed wire fence erected in 24 hours on 13 August 1961, the more robust, concrete version of the Berlin Wall soon followed 2 days later.

The origins of the Berlin Wall can be found following World War Two, when what remained of Nazi Germany was divided between the Allied Powers – the Americans, British, French and the Soviet Union. Berlin, which sat in the Soviet sector, was similarly divided between the 4 nations.

However, differences soon arose between the Soviet Union and the Allied Powers as to their approach in reconstructing Germany. Soviet leader Joseph Stalin declared the establishment of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), and in August 1961 erected the Berlin Wall, closing the border between East and West Berlin to stop Berliners from his sector escaping to the Allied controlled areas of the city.

The Berlin Wall was a matter of great controversy throughout its existence. World leaders continually calling for it to be torn down, including John F. Kennedy’s famous declaration of “Ich bin ein Berliner” and Ronald Reagan’s 1987 speech when he implored, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”.

The fall of the Berlin Wall finally occurred on 9 November 1989 and was almost completely dismantled in the days and weeks that followed.

Berlin Wall today

Today, the Berlin Wall remains in a dismantled state and can be found in pieces throughout Berlin.

The largest section, measuring 1.3km, can be found at the open air East Side Gallery, where today a host of murals and artwork decorate it. As the longest open-air gallery in the world, the East Side Gallery is one of the most interesting places to explore the wall and its artistic legacy.

Small sections are also dotted throughout the city, including at Postdamer Platz, Checkpoint Charlie, and Bösebrücker, where the border was first opened.

The Berlin Wall is featured as one of our Top Tourist Attractions of Germany.

Getting to the Berlin Wall

The Berlin Wall exists in many sections throughout Berlin – it is difficult to miss them! The East Side Gallery is located on Mühlenstraße, just off the 96a road, and is well connected to public transport. The 300 bus service stops directly at the site, while the Warschauer Straße train and U-Bahn station is a 10-minute walk away.

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