The Berlin Wall (in German Berliner Mauer ), also called the “Wall” or the “Wall of shame” was set up into full Berlin during the night with the 12 to the August 13rd 1961 causing the reprobation of the western powers. The German Democratic republic thus tries to put an end, with the support of the Warsaw Pact, with the exodus growing of its inhabitants towards the the Federal Republic of Germany. The Wall, physically separating the city in “East Berlin” and “West Berlin”, is during nearly thirty years the symbol of the Cold war and the partition of Germany at the conclusion of the Second world war. More than one simple wall, it is acted in fact of a defense force comprising two walls with covered way, watchtowers and warning devices. Several hundreds of nationals of GDR lost the life while trying to cross it, the soldiers not hesitating to draw over the fugitive ones.
The weakening of the Soviet Union, the policy of liberalization led by Gorbatchev and the determination of the Easts Germany who organized great demonstrations allow them, the November 9th 1989, to cut down what had been called the “Wall of shame”; their dash caused the admiration of the “Free world”. This event led to the German Réunification. Although destroyed almost completely, the Wall remains a place of memory to which several museums are devoted and the scars which it left in the urban organization of the German capital are still not unobtrusive. The Berlin Wall plays a big role in the thought and imaginary German and Westerner, as testify some to many books and films.
Before the construction of the Wall (1945-1961)
After its capitulation in 1945, the Germany is divided into four zones of occupation under administration Soviet, American, British and French, in accordance with the agreement concluded with the Conférence from Yalta. Berlin, capital of the Third Reich, is found completely included in the Soviet zone of occupation but the city is also divided in four sectors distributed between the allies. The Soviet sector only represents with him 406 km2, that is to say 45,6% of the surface of the city. The position and the importance of Berlin make of it a major stake of the Cold war which engages as of the end of the hostilities the May 8th, 1945.
Events in Germany
The co-operation between the four occupying powers of Germany ends in 1948 when the Soviet Union suspends its participation in the Council of allied control and the Interallié command on March 19th, 1948. The Soviets consequently get busy to obstruct the communications of the Westerners with West Berlin, to undoubtedly force them to give up the old capital of Reich. Of June 24th 1948 at May 12th, 1949, Stalin founds the Blocus of Berlin. All the terrestrial and river transits between West Berlin and the West Germany are cut. This event constitutes the first major crisis between the Soviet Union and the Westerners. Thanks to a gigantic airlift organized under the aegis of the the United States, West Berlin survives the blockade.
The year 1949 sees the creation of the the Federal Republic of Germany in the zones British, American and French, followed closely by that of the German Democratic republic in the zone under Soviet influence.
Causes of the construction of the WallSince its creation in 1949, GDR undergoes a flood of emigration growing towards FRG, particularly at Berlin, city located in the middle of GDR, that the border crosses. This urban border is not easily controllable, contrary to the very supervised rural areas already. Between 2,6 and 3,6 million Germans flees GDR by Berlin between 1949 and 1961, depriving the country of labor and showing with the face of the world their weak adhesion with the Communist regime. To emigrate does not raise a major difficulty because, until August 1961, it is enough to take the subway or the Berliner railroad to pass from Is in West, which daily makes of the Berliners to go to work. The Germans call this migration of communist GDR in capitalist FRG: “to vote with its feet”. During the first two weeks of August 1961, rich in rumors, more: 47000 East-German citizens pass to West Germany via Berlin. Moreover, West Berlin plays the part of door towards the West for many Czechs and Pole. As the emigration particularly relates to the young well educated credits, it poses a major economic problem and threatens the existence even of GDR.
Moreover, approximately: 500000 Berliners are crosses border dailies to work, working with West Berlin but inhabitant in East Berlin or in his suburbs where the real estate and cost of living is more favorable. The August 4th 1961, a decree obliges the crosses border dailies to work to be recorded like such and to pay their rents in Deutsche Mark (currency of the FRG). Before even the construction of the Wall, the police force of GDR intensively supervises at the access points to West Berlin those which it designates as “smugglers” or “deserters of the Republic”.
Like all the communist countries, GDR was seen imposing a planned economy by Moscow. The septennial plan (1959-1965) is a failure as of the beginning. The industrial production increases less quickly than envisaged. Indeed, the investments are insufficient. The Collectivisation of the arable lands involves a fall of the production and a food shortage. The wages increase more quickly than envisaged because of a shortage of manpower caused mainly by the escapes in the West. An important traffic of currencies and goods, harmful to the East-German economy, pass by Berlin. GDR is in 1961 at the edge of economic and social collapse:
“If I include/understand your question well, there are people in West Germany who wish that we mobilize the workmen of the building of the capital of GDR to set up a wall, it is that? I am not informed of such a project; because the masons of the capital are mainly occupied building residences and devote all their labor force to it. Nobody for building a wall! ”
Ulbricht is thus the first to be used the word “Wall”, two months before it is set up.
If the Allies are with the current of a plan of “drastic measurements” aiming to the locking of West Berlin, they are shown however surprised by its calendar and its width. As their rights of access in West Berlin are respected, they decide not to intervene militarily. BND (Secret services of FRG) had also received at the beginning of July similar information to him. After the meeting between Ulbricht and Nikita Khrouchtchev at the time of the top of the Member States of the Warsaw Pact (3 August 5th, 1961), BND note in his weekly report of the August 9th:
“Information available shows that the mode of Pankow endeavors to obtain the agreement of Moscow for the coming into effect of rigorous measurements of blocking; in particular the looping of the border of Berlin, with interruption of the traffic of subways and trams between East Berlin and West Berlin. (...) It remains to be seen whether Ulbricht is able to make accept such requirements by Moscow, and until where. ”
The public statement of the top of the Warsaw Pact proposes to thwart at the border with West Berlin the harmful intrigues with the countries of the socialist camp and to ensure around West Berlin a reliable monitoring and an effective control.
The August 11th 1961, the Room of the People of GDR approves the dialog with Moscow and gives the full powerss to the Council of Ministers to ensure the realization of it. The Council of Ministers of GDR adopts on August 12th a decree denouncing the policy of aggression imperialist of the Westerners in his opposition. A very strict control of the borders separating West Berlin and East Berlin is founded. It decides use of the armed forces to occupy the border with West Berlin and to set up a stopping there.
Saturdays August 12th 1961, BND receives the information which “a conference had place in East Berlin in the decision-making center of the East-German Communist party SED in the presence of high ranking officials of the party. There one could learn that (...) the situation of increasing emigration the fugitive ones makes necessary the looping of the sector of occupation Soviet and West Berlin in the next days - without more precise details - and not in two weeks as it was envisaged initially. ”
In the night of the 12 with the August 13rd 1961: 14500 members of the armed forces block the streets and the railways leading to West Berlin. Soviet troops are held ready with the combat and mass at the border posts of the Allies. All the means of transport between the two Berlin are stopped. In September 1961, of the subways and the S-Bahn (the RER) of West Berlin will continue to circulate under East Berlin without however stopping at what is called from now on the phantom stations. Erich Honecker, as a secretary of the central committee for the questions of security, ensures the political responsibility of the planning and the realization of the construction of the Wall for SED. It presents construction like a “wall of protection antifascist”. Until September 1961, the border remains “passable” and among the only forces of monitoring, 85 men pass to the West - imitated in that through 400 civilians, of which 216 succeed. The images of the young customs officer Conrad Schumann spanning the barbed wires or of fugitive going down by a sheet cord from the houses located at the border mark the spirits.
The construction of the Wall around the three sectors of the West consists first of all of barbed an iron wire curtain. The paving stones of the axes of circulation between the two halves of the city are turned over in order to stop the traffic immediately. In the following weeks, it is supplemented by a cement wall, then provided with various safety devices. This wall separates the city physically and completely surrounds the western part of Berlin which becomes an island in the middle of the Eastern European countries.
Reactions to the West
The federal chancellor Adenauer the very same day calls the population of the West to calm and the reason and evokes without more precise details the reactions than it is on the point of taking with the Allies. It waits two weeks after the construction of the Wall before going to West Berlin. Only the mayor of West Berlin and future German chancellor Willy Brandt emits a protest energetic - but impotent - against emmurement of Berlin and his final cut in two. Its declaration is without ambiguity: “Under the glance of the world community of the people, Berlin shows the separators of the city, which oppress East Berlin and threaten West Berlin, of crime against the international law and humanity (...). Ceaseless rumors circulate, according to which Moscow would have ensured the Allies not to encroach on their rights to West Berlin. The Blocus of Berlin actually showed with the eyes of the Allies that the statute of the city was constantly threatened. The construction of the Wall consequently represents a material confirmation of the status quo: the Soviet Union gives up its requirement of “free” West Berlin deserted by the allied troops, such as it had still been formulated in 1958 in the Ultimatum of Khrouchtchev.
The international reactions are ambiguous. As of on August 13rd, Dean Rusk, American Secretary of State, condemns the restriction of the freedom of displacement of the Berliners. The allies consider that the the USSR is on the initiative of the construction of the Wall between its zone of occupation and that of combined as indicate it the notes of protest sent to the Soviet government by the ambassadors American and French. However, Kennedy qualifies the construction of the Wall of “not very elegant solution, but thousand times preferable at the war”. English the Prime Minister MacMillan sees “nothing illegal there”. Indeed, measurement touches initially the Easts Germany and does not call in question the geopolitical balance of Germany. This does not prevent Kennedy from firmly supporting the free city of Berlin. It sends an additional group of combat of: 1500 men in West Berlin and makes take again service with the general Lucius D. Clay. The August 19th 1961, Clay and the American vice-president Lyndon Johnson goes to Berlin.
The October 27th, one comes to a confrontation visible and direct between American and Soviet troops with Checkpoint Charlie. Frontier guards of GDR require to control members of the Western allied forces wanting to go in Soviet sector. This requirement is contrary with the right of freedom of movement, whose all the members profit from the occupying forces. During three days.
A country, two States
The nationals of West Berlin could not enter already any more freely in GDR since June 1st 1952. Surrounding is made more effective by the reduction in the points of passage: 69 points of passage on 81 what exists are closed as of on August 13rd. The Porte of Brandebourg is closed on August 14th and four others on August 23rd. At the end of 1961 it does not remain any more that seven points of passages between the East and the West of Berlin. The Potsdamer Platz is cut into two. The historical center of the city becomes gradually a great vacuum on the chart, composed of the No man' S Land between the one waste ground and Partition walls in the East in the West. The economic consequences and social are immediate: : 63000 Berliners of the East lose their employment in the West, and: 10000 of the West lose their employment in East Berlin. Much more, the construction of the Wall gives a very negative image of the Eastern bloc and tends to prove in manner symbolic system its economic failure vis-a-vis the Western block. “The Soviet block is connected from now on with a vast prison in which the leaders are obliged to lock up citizens who have only one idea: to flee! The Wall is a consent of failure and a humiliation for all Eastern Europe. ” The Wall thus contributes to sap the image of the communist world.
December 17th, 1963, after long negotiations, the first agreement on the payment of the visits of Berliner of the West in their parents of the East of the city is signed. It makes it possible 1,2 million Berliner to return visit to their parents in the oriental party of the city but only from December 19th, 1963 to January 5th, 1964. D´autres arrangements follow in 1964,1965 and 1966. The western part is made conspicuous as from 1967 by its student's movement, not of test card of the public opinion. Indeed, the city is traditionally a university town. The cultural life there is very developed.
The fall of the Wall
In 1989, the geopolitical situation changes. The Soviets announce their withdrawal of Afghanistan without victory. Lech Walesa becomes Prime Minister of Poland. The Hungary opens its “Iron curtain”. Certain observers think that a contagion of freedom will also gain the Germans. The Easts Germany start to leave the country per hundreds, then by thousands, under pretext of holidays in Hungary, where the borders are open. : 25000 citizens of GDR join the FRG via the Hungary and the Austria in three weeks. With Prague, with Warsaw, tens of thousands of Easts Germany make the seat of the embassy of FRG. In GDR, the dispute swells. The Protestant churches, like that of Nikolai Saint to Leipzig, accommodate the prayers for peace. They are the germ of the manifestations of Monday as from September. : 20000 demonstrators ravel in the streets of Leipzig on October 2nd, 1989. Mikhaïl Gorbatchev, come in East Berlin to celebrate the fortieth birthday of the birth of GDR, indicates in its leaders that the recourse to armed repression is to be excluded. In spite of an attempt at recovery in hand by the renovating ones of the Communist party, the demonstrations continue: a million demonstrators in East Berlin on November 4th, hundreds of thousands in the other big cities of GDR.
Five days later, a press conference is held by Günter Schabowski, member of the political office of the SED, retransmise on line by the television of the center of press of East Berlin, at one hour for great listening. With 18:57, towards the end of the conference, Schabowski reads in a way rather detached a decision of the Council of Ministers on a new regulation of the voyages, of which it proves later that it was not yet definitively approved, or, according to other sources, was to be communicated to the press only starting from 4:00 the next morning, time to inform the organizations concerned:
Present on the podium beside Schabowski: members of the central committee of SED Helga Labs, Gerhard Beil and Manfred Banaschak. Schabowski reads a draft decision of the Council of Ministers which one placed in front of him. “The voyages deprived towards the foreigner can be authorized without presentation of documents in proof - reason for the voyage or bond of family. The authorizations will be delivered without delay. A circular in this direction will be diffused soon. The departments of the popular police force responsible for the visas and the recording of the residence are elected to grant without delay of the permanent authorizations of voyage, without the conditions currently in force not having to be filled. The voyages including at permanent duration can be done at any border post with FRG. ”
Question of a journalist: “When this does it enter into force? ”
Schabowski, dividing into sheets its notes: “As much as I know - immediately. ”
Thanks to the advertisements of the radios and televisions of FRG and West Berlin, entitled: “The Wall is open! ”, several thousands of Berliner of the East is had a presentiment of at the points of passage and require to pass. At this time, neither the frontier troops, nor even the civils servant of the Ministry in charge of the Safety of State persons in charge of control of the visas had been informed. Without concrete order nor instruction but under the pressure of crowd, the point of passage of the Bornholmer Straße is shortly after open 23:00, followed other points of passage both to Berlin and at the border with the FRG. Many assists on line on television as of this night of November 9th and is put in way. Thus the Berlin Wall falls into the night from Thursday the 9th to Friday, November 10 1989, after more than 28 years of existence. This event was called in the Histoire of Germany die Wende (“the turn”).
However the true rush takes place the next morning, much being laid down too early this night to attend the opening of the border. This day, of immense columns of people and cars moved towards West Berlin. The citizens of GDR are accommodated with open arms by the population of West Berlin. A concert of horns resounds in Berlin and from unknown into the arms from/to each other fall. In the euphoria of this night, many West-Berliners climb the Wall and mass close to the carries of Brandebourg accessible to all, whereas one could not reach it before. By learning the news from the opening of the Wall, the Bundestag stops its timetable with Bonn and the deputies entonnent the national anthem spontaneously. The November 9th 1989, the Berliners start the destruction of the Wall by all the means (pickaxe, hammer, etc). Present at Berlin, the Violoncelliste virtuoso Mstislav Rostropovitch, which had had to be exiled in the West for its standpoint in the USSR, comes to encourage the demolition contracters (called in German Mauerspechte , in French “green woodpeckers of the wall”) while playing of the violoncello to the foot of the Wall. The photography of this event will become famous.
The November 9th was evoked to become the national festival of Germany, the more so as it also celebrates the proclamation of the Weimar Republic in 1918. However, it is also the date birthday of the putsch of Adolf Hitler (November 9th 1923), like that of the Nuit of crystal, the Pogrom anti-Jew made by the Nazis the November 9th 1938. The October 3rd was thus preferred to him.
Reactions to the fall of the Berlin WallThe division of Europe in two blocks had become an established fact. Also, the opening of the Wall and the fall of the Communist regimes of Central Europe which followed have amazed the western world. Few specialists had included/understood the basic movements which rolled the Communist regimes. Only, certain observers thought that a contagion of freedom, after the changes in Poland and Hungary, was going to also gain the Germans. The peace which had never been signed since the end of the Second world war is on September 12th, 1990 in Moscow. The Traité of Moscow returns to Germany its full Souveraineté. The “fall of the Berlin Wall” thus succeeded, almost a year later, with the reunification of both Germany (FRG and GDR) the October 3rd 1990. The October 3rd is the German national festival today ( Tag der Deutschen Einheit , “day of the German unit”).
Televisions of the whole world relay the exceptional occurrence which is the opening of the Wall. They describe it like a symbol of peace, return to freedom and communion of the German people. The diplomats them evaluate the consequences of the fall of the Wall. The French diplomacy makes an important error of judgment. The French diplomats and political officials think that the the USSR will not let GDR be linked with the FRG. François Mitterrand pays an official visit in GDR, from December 20th to 22nd 1989. During an official dinner, he even declares: “Democratic republic of Germany and France, we have to make still much together”. The West German leaders surprised and are disappointed attitude of the France. The American reaction is completely different. The American ambassador with Bonn, Vernon Walters, includes/understands immediately which the fall of the Wall can have for only consequence only the reunification. He manages to convince George Bush that the interest of the the United States is to accompany the movement to obtain conditions which are appropriate to them rather than to be opposed to the German reunification. Helmut Kohl followed a policy of bringing together with the the USSR of Gorbatchev since 1988. The first secretary of the Soviet Communist party preaches a bringing together between the two Germany but he does not think of a reunification. Also, the opening of the Berlin Wall causes it its dissatisfaction. With the help of some concessions with the the USSR and a credit of five billion marks, Helmut Kohl arrives at her ends. As the remainder of the border of both Germany, the Berlin Wall was equipped with a very complete system of wire barbed, ditches, traps with tank, covered ways and watchtowers. With the beginning of the year 1980, the border did not mobilize less than thousand watchdogs. The system improved year by year. In particular, the houses close to the Wall were gradually emptied their inhabitants then walled. This process lasted until January 28th, 1985, with the demolition of the Church of the Reconciliation in the Bernauer Straße . One perforated clear like the day divides formerly dense and dark Berlin then.
In their final state, which was born with many places only at the end of the years 1980, the frontier installations consisted of:
- a cement wall of high background of two or three meters;
- an alarm with detection of contact on the ground;
- a barrier of contact out of sheet metal, higher than a man, tended barbed wire and wire of detection by contact;
- to the opening of the border in 1989, there was moreover on certain parts of the tracks for dogs (frightening shepherds and similar, free to run attached to a rope), ditches of defense against the vehicles, and defenses anti-tank device (Chevaux-de-frise) in rails welded in crosses, which cost Germany billion marks for their demolition;
- a covered way (enlightened of night) for the access to the guardrooms and the circulation of the military columns;
- of the watchtowers (in all 302 in 1989), equipped with projectors of research, for the border posts the day, and with a reinforcement of soldiers the night;
- of the tracks of control (KS) or “tracks of death”, always harrowed expenses, to detect the traces, and which were not to be trampled without reason by the soldiers;
- of the additional sheet barriers (partly) exceeding the height of a man and through whom one could see only in oblique;
- the wall or the wall border itself, towards West Berlin, in breeze blocks (partly out of concrete rolled, supposed not to give of catch for the climbing), 3,60 height meters;
- by front, still a few meters of the territory under the authority of GDR.
The total width of these installations depended on the density of the houses close to the border and went from approximately thirty to 500 meters on the Postdamer Platz . One did not build a minefields nor of installations of automatic shooting in the vicinity of the Wall contrary to the interior German border (but this point was not known in general in GDR).
The detail of these installations - indicated in-house by the frontier troops as “zone of action” - was placed under military and thus badly known secrecy of the citizens of GDR. The soldiers detached at the border were to keep silence. As no one did not know exactly which spy of the Stasi could submit a report/ratio on an inconsistent chattering, all were compelled firmly with silence. Whoever was interested of too close with the frontier installations was at the very least likely to be stopped and led to the police station for identity check. That could lead to a judgment with the prison for planning of escape bid. The zone in the vicinity immediate of the border with East Berlin was prohibited except on special permit.
The border external of the town of West Berlin crossed at many places of the inland waterways. The layout of the border had been materialized by the Senate of West Berlin by lines of white buoys carrying the inscription Sektorengrenze (limit of sector). The boats of tourism or sport sailing in West Berlin were to respect the limits of the sector thus marked by the buoys. Side GDR, boats of the frontier troops patrolled on the occasion.
The frontier fortifications of GDR were always on bank on the side of GDR, which imposed sometimes important turnings, and which “immured” banks of several lakes of the Havel. The greatest turning was on the lake Jungfern, where the Wall was up to two kilometers of the real layout of the border. In several places, the frontier band passed through old water parts and made them unusable for the inhabitants, as on Western bank of the Lake Groß-Glienicke and on Southern bank of the lake Griebnitz.
On the rivers of the internal border, the border passed everywhere from length of Western bank or Is so that no marking of the layout of the border was there in water. The true Wall was there always on bank Is. However, the rivers belonging to East Berlin were always supervised.
On the tributary channels and rivers, the situation became sometimes inextricable. Many swimmers and boats of West Berlin were inadvertently or lightness in territory be-Berliner and wiped shootings which made several deaths.
In some places on the Spree, there were barriers immersed against the swimmers. For the fugitive ones, it was not obvious of knowing when they reached West Berlin and they still ran the risk to be shot down after having exceeded the limits of the Wall.
Training and equipment of the frontier guards
The soldiers at the East-German border had the “order to draw”, i.e. the obligation to prevent the escape bids by all the means, even with the risk of died of the fugitive one. Brought back to the length of the border, one can even say that there were much more deaths in Berlin than on average on the remainder of the Wall. During the non-working great days or visits of State, the order to draw was sometimes suspended, to avoid the negative repercussions in the press of the West. Recent discoveries clarified the responsibility for the East-German State in the executions the fugitive ones. In October 1973, an order is addressed to the agents of the Stasi infiltrated in the units of frontier guards. Those must prevent that soldiers do not pass to the West. The order is very clear: “Do not hesitate to make use of your weapon, even if the violation of the border concerns women and children, which is a strategy often used by the traitors”.
According to the indications of the Ministry for the Safety of State, the troops of frontier guards de Berlin included/understood in spring 1989: 11500 soldiers and 500 civilians.
In addition to the units assigned to the command of the GK-center, the head office of Berlin-Karlshorst, (approximately: 1000 agents), the frontier safety was ensured by seven regiments of frontier guards (GR.), in Treptow, Pankow, Rummelsburg, Hennigsdorf, Groß-Glienicke, Potsdam - Babelsberg and Kleinmachnow, like two frontier regiments of formation in Wilhelmshagen and Oranienburg.
Each regiment included/understood five companies ordered directly with the support of a group of genius, transmissions, train, a battery of mortars and one of artillery, a group of recognition and one of flame thrower as well as a pack of watchdogs and, where necessary, a company of boats and companies of safety for the points of passage.
On the whole, at the border “centers”, there were 567 armored vehicles of shooting, 48 mortars, 48 anti-tank guns, 114 flame throwers. Moreover, there were 156 tanks or heavy apparatuses of the genius and: 2295 motor vehicles (motor bikes, cars and trucks). In the equipment also 992 dogs appeared.
In one day calendar normal, approximately: 2300 agents were engaged in the zone of action and close space.
Reinforced safety rose from particular circumstances like political tops or a difficult weather (fog, snow). In certain cases, committed manpower was further increased by 200 to 300 additional agents.
Points of passage
There were 25 stations of passage through the Wall: thirteen by the road, four per railway and eight per water way, which accounted for 60% of the total of the passages between GDR, and FRG or West Berlin. The points of passage were strongly equipped on the side GDR. Those which wished to pass were to expect very strict, multiple and successive controls on behalf of the customs officers and of the services of emigration and immigration; however the formalities proceeded in an openly correct way. The vehicles were excavated in a particularly meticulous way (opening of the trunk, of the engine cowling, examination of the seats, passage to the top of mirror for examination of the frame). The formalities allowed only one very reduced traffic. It proved thereafter as there existed however secrete ways under the Wall, used on the occasion, undergrounds dug as well by the secret services of GDR as by frontier runners.
West coast, one crossed police stations and of customs but the simple people were in general not controlled. It is only for the passages in transit that the travellers were controlled in a statistical way (request of the destination), and on the occasion, controlled more narrowly, in particular if there were some suspicion of a reason for continuations (restricted research). The goods traffic towards the foreigner was subjected to customs control, while towards FRG, one made only statistical surveys. The West German police officers and of the allied patrols submitted reports/ratios on the suspect activities, in order to as well as possible avoid an infiltration of spies of the East.
The allied occupying forces had installed for official check-points in Checkpoint Bravo (Dreilinden) and the Checkpoint Charlie (Friedrichstrasse) but this did not have any influence on the traffic of the travellers and the visitors.
During the monetary unification of Germany, on July 1st, 1990, all the border posts were abandoned: only some installations remained set up as a memorial.
Victims and gunners
A dubious number of victims
The exact number of the victims of the Wall is the subject of controversies: it is indeed difficult to evaluate because the new victims had overlooked in GDR. According to research of the Berliner community of workers “Collective of August 13rd”: 1135 people left the life there. The Staatsanwaltschaft (office of the Public prosecutor) of Berlin counted 270 of them where one could show an act of violence of GDR. The Zentrale Ermittlungsgruppe für Regierungs- und Vereinigungskriminalität (central Group of research on the criminality of the government and the reunification) counts only 421 deaths likely to be charged to the armed forces of GDR. Other sources indicate 125 dead to Berlin (24 years) close to the station of Friedrichstraße , eleven days after the closing of the border, during an escape bid. The August 17th 1962, Peter Fechter (22 years) loses all his blood on the “track of death”. In 1966, two children of 10 and 13 years are killed by on the whole forty balls.
Chris Gueffroy is the last victim of the Wall, the February 6th 1989. Bread blesses for the propaganda of GDR and a justification a posteriori of the construction of the Wall.
The lawsuit of the soldier-gunners
A series of lawsuit lasted until the spring 2004 to know which carried the legal responsibility to have given the order to draw on the fugitive ones. Among the defendants appeared inter alia the president of the Council of State Erich Honecker, its successor Egon Krenz, the members of the National council of defense Erich Mielke, Willi Stoph, Heinz Keßler, Fritz Streletz and Hans Albrecht, the chief of SED for the district of Suhl and some generals like Klaus-Dieter Baumgarten, lieutenant-general of army ordering the frontier troops of 1979 to 1990. This lawsuit caused a sharp controversy in Germany, good number of defendants making the point that their acts, at the time, did not constitute crimes taking into consideration East-German right. They show the current courts to practice the “justice of the winners”.
The gunners executants were recruited mainly in NVA (National popular army) or in the frontier troops. Among the defendants, 35 were discharged, 44 condemned with deferment and setting to the test and 11 to a firm sorrow: inter alia Albrecht, Streletz, Keßler and Baumgarten (of four years and half at six years and half of prison). The last Communist leader of GDR, Egon Krenz, was condemned in 1997 to a sorrow of six years and half of prison for the death of four people along the Berlin Wall in the years 1980.
The museum of the Wall in Checkpoint Charlie
The museum of the Wall to the Checkpoint Charlie is open since 1963 just opposite the border by the historian Rainer Hildebrandt. It is exploited by the Collectif of August 13rd . It is one of the most visited museums of Berlin. It shows the security system of the Wall and reports the successful attempts at escape, with their means such as montgolfiers, cars, cable cars and even a mini submarine. Checkpoint Charlie became, him, a folk place. The famous panel which appeared in it - “You are leaving the american sector”, “you leave the American sector” is represented on innumerable postcards.
Memorial unit of the Berlin Wall in Bernauer StraßeSince the end of the year 1990, there is in the Bernauer Straße , with the limit of the old districts of Wedding and the Center, a memorial unit of the Berlin Wall. It includes/understands the Memorial of the Berlin Wall, the information center as well as the Vault of the Reconciliation
The Memorial resulting from a federal contest of architecture was inaugurated, after long and vigorous discussions, the August 13rd 1998. It presents a fragment of the Wall rebuilt on the spot according to an interpretation of artist.
The documentary center was open the November 9th 1999. It was supplemented in 2003 by a tower of observation which makes it possible to see well the installations of the Wall of the Memorial. In addition to an exposure (open since 2001 under the title Berlin, August 13rd, 1961 ), one can find various possibilities of information there on the history of the Wall.
The Vault of the Reconciliation of the evangelic parish of the Reconciliation was inaugurated on November 9th 2000. It is a building circular in cob, built on the foundations of the chorus of the Church of the Reconciliation, located on the “track of died” and demolished in 1985.
Lastly, the “Thousand history of the Berlin Wall” is a permanent exposure in four languages, consistent in 21 panels of information. Those are distributed along the layout of the internal border and present photographs and texts referring to events, as of the escapes which occurred at the place even where the panels are placed.
See also: Gedenkstatte Berliner Mauer
Destruction and remainders of the Wall
There does not remain any more large-thing of the Wall today. The hunters of memories, indicated in the popular speech by Mauerspecht (that is to say “peak of wall”), tore off the fragments, giving rise to a true black-market. Even the CIA adapted a piece of the Wall artistically decorated for its new building in its fort with Langley. Between the end 1989 and the beginning of the year 1990, the Wall is dismantled at a rate of hundred meters on average per night. GDR then endeavors most quickly to dismount and most completely possible the installations. It was painted by 118 artists of the whole world, such Thierry Noir or Dmitrij Vrubel and comprises 106 murals. Classified historic building, it falls today in ruin. so the town of Berlin allocated a subsidy to allow its rebuilding the identical one. The artists agreed to repaint their work on a new Wall.
Another fragment of the Wall (real) is along Niederkirchnerstraße, in the district centers, near the House of Commons of Berlin. It was also classified historic building in 1990. On the other hand, the frontier installations of the memorial of the Wall of Bernauer Straße were rebuilt.
Five of the 302 Mirador S remain:
- one is transformed into “museum of prohibited art” with Treptow, close to the Pouchkine alley, in part of the track transformed into park;
- in the Kielerstraße in the district Centers. The watchtower is classified, but was surrounded on three sides of recent constructions;
- on Stresemannstraße, close to the Postdamer Platz in the same district. This watchtower, much slimmer than the others, was moved to allow constructions and is not thus any more in its original place;
- in the south of Nieder-Neuendorf, hamlet of Hennigsdorf, in the permanent exposure on the military installations of border RFA-RDA;
- in Hohen-Neuendorf. This watchtower is in a lately wooded part of the layout of the track. It is used with the wood which surrounds it by “German forest Youth”.
Organization of Berliner urban space after the fall of the WallThe fall of the Wall changed considerably flows of traffic in the city. One circulates without problem of is in west on underground railway networks, railway and buses completely modernized during the years 1990. The Potsdamer Platz, heart of smart and middle-class Berlin prewar and become a vast ground in waste land, in the middle of the No man' S Land , symbolizes the desire to find the unit of the city. Its rebuilding is on the way to be completed. The buildings built by Renzo Piano, Richard Rogers and Helmut Jahn strike by their elegance and offer a remarkable sampling of contemporary architecture. The week, the employees of the offices and the workmen of the building sites côtoient the tourists there. The weekend, the Potsdamer Platz is already one of the most attended places Berlin.
However, the Wall, i.e. cleavage between West Berlin and East Berlin, is always there. To the West, the authorities were due to preserve marks of the last Nazi of the city as the ruin of the church commemorative of the emperor Guillaume ( Kaiser Wilhelm ), called “hollow tooth” by the Berliners. The Reichstag, burnt in 1933 and become a ruin in 1945, was not rebuilt entirely with the identical one. The cupola out of glass conceived by Norman Foster symbolizes the German democracy which wants to be resolutely transparent. In the East, GDR let remain no feature of the Nazisme. Today, this past is recalled in the Jewish district where the Synagog was rebuilt.
- the Years of the wall left in 1995 and realized by Margarethe von Trotta tells the history of a couple separated in 1961 during its escape towards West Berlin. November 9th, 1989, twenty-seven years after their separation, they cross in the middle of Berlinois in jubilation.
- the Tunnel left in 2001 and realized by Roland Suso Richter tells the history of an East-German champion who passes to the west whereas the Berlin Wall east in construction and tries to make there come his sister. The film is inspired by the life of Hasso Herschel which digs with his/her friends a 145 meters length gallery during nearly 6 months in the French sector of Berlin. That makes it possible 28 people to flee East Berlin.
- Good Bye, Lenin! left in September 2003 and carried out by Wolfgang Becker, evokes the fall of the Wall and the material changes which occurred in the days and the weeks which followed: a form of jubilation but also an important loss of landmarks for those of GDR (the Oses ).
- the Life of the others left in January 2007 and carried out by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck tells how the leaders of GDR use in the years 1980, Stasi for their personal ends.
The Wall in the literature
- the Jumper of wall of Peter Schneider (1982) tells the history of a Berliner writer of the West. This one to and from on both sides of the Wall to the beginning of the year 1980.
- Berlin under the Baltic of Hugo Hamilton (1990) is a book full with surprised and lucky finds which proceeds in Berlin of the years 1980, at the time when the Wall fissures.
- Villa Vortex of Maurice G. Dantec (2003) is a novel halfway between the newspapers and the traditional whodunnit with as tallies chronological the fall of the Berlin Wall and that of Twin Towers of New York (September 2001).
- the Man of the border of Martine-Marie Muller is a novel being held around the Berlin Wall.
- the black Dogs of Ian McEwan (2007) tells the history of an young man on the traces of the communist political commitment of his/her parents-in-law. The book finishes with the foot of the Berlin Wall at the time of its fall.
- the Mirror with the spies is a spy novel of John the Square, published in 1965. The history relates to a British Intelligence service during the Cold war, mentioned like “the Service” and its attempt to infiltrate a agent in German Democratic republic.
- Close to the Burgfrauenstraße , the Wall followed an absurd layout in the shape of duck nozzle. See also the chart.
- the satirical party Die PARTEI makes appear in its electoral program the rebuilding of the Wall.
- Pink Floyd, celebrates rock group psychedelic, left in 1979 an album named The Wall describing a psychological Wall. The album, which had been recorded partly in Berlin, was the subject of a concert of Roger Waters, the ex-bass player of the group, in 1990 into full in the ex No man' S Land . The press underlined the historical context, which had been obviously desired for marketing.
- on July 1st 1988, following a territorial exchange, parts of the “triangle of Lenné” passed on the side of West Berlin. Some Berliners of the West who resided at it as in off-shore field, escaped the police force from the West by crossing the Wall towards the East.
- Nowadays, of many museums sells pieces of the Berlin Wall. However, there do not exist any more material traces which were not sold yet or which are not preserved in a museum. The parts of Wall currently sold are quite simply forgeries. Such pieces were offered in the edition collector of the play World in Conflict .
- Mödlareuth, a German village also cut into two.
- File set of themes on Berlin.de, official site of the town of Berlin
- Seen satellite of a remaining piece of the '' Mur '' on WikiMapia
- the Berlin Wall, files televised of the National institute of audio-visual the
- historical Texts on the history of the Berlin Wall of the numeric library European NAvigator
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