Berlin Wall. Myths about the Berlin Wall

In 1961, a wall appeared in Berlin. It was built by the German Democratic Republic, controlled by the communist authorities and the Soviet Union. The purpose of the appearance of such a structure was the fencing of the Eastern part of Berlin. Thus, the socialist country was further alienated from the Western free world.

Berlin Wall. Myths about the Berlin Wall

Over time, the Berlin Wall became a real symbol of the Iron Curtain, the boundary between the communist bloc of countries and the rest of the world. She stood for almost thirty years.

When East Germany gave its citizens the opportunity to visit the Western part of the country, there was no sense in the wall. But its demolition was started in a few months, which marked the beginning of the unification of the divided into two halves of the country.

The Berlin Wall is part of the history not only of Germany, but of the whole world.

Its appearance is directly related to the Second World War, which divided the country. And although today the Wall itself is already gone, some of its parts are in Berlin, recalling the past. It becomes clear that until recently Germany was different, it was ready to kill its own compatriots, who wanted to move to the West. The Berlin Wall is a real historical monument, surrounded by its own legends and myths.

Even before the Berlin Wall, Berliners could not move freely around the city.

Before the appearance of the wall, the Berliners moved freely from the western part of the city to the east and back. People were shopping, working, going to the movies – ordinary life was flowing. In Berlin there were underground metro lines, going from one district of Berlin to another, it was possible to walk freely around the city. The invisible border passed through the streets and houses and canals. Officially worked 81 street checkpoints, transitions in the subway. But the townspeople also used a hundred illegal routes. Every day tens of thousands of people passed from one part of the city to another. But then a wall appeared that was designed to keep experts from leaking to a more prosperous country. As a result of the acute political crisis, a decision was made by the GDR authorities to close the border. There are only three checkpoints left: Alpha, Bravo and Charlie. Gradually, their number increased to 12. But only diplomats and officials could pass through them. Travelers needed a special permit, which was very difficult to obtain.

The Berlin Wall was single and continuous.

It seems to people that the Berlin Wall was a long, continuous structure. In fact, there were two walls, they ran parallel to each other, and between them was about 150 meters. In this space, known as the “death strip”, there were watchtowers, barbed wire was stretched, lights were shining, dogs were serving, there were “hedgehogs” against vehicles. Armed guards had an order to shoot anyone who tried to cross the strip. In total, the wall stretched for 155 kilometers, 43 of which accounted for the separation of East and West Berlin. True, this did not deter hundreds of people from escaping.

The Berlin Wall could not be crossed.

Despite all the solidity of the structure, about five thousand people managed to cross the border. The methods for this were sometimes chosen exotic. So, 28 people were able to leave for West Berlin through a hand-built tunnel 145 meters long. People used caches in cars, flew on hang-gliders and balloons, climbed the rope, thrown between the houses, sailed along the rivers and canals. Even an attempt was made to pierce the wall with a bulldozer. And the most fortunate just ran across the border. However, not all attempts ended in success. From 100 to 200 people were killed by the authorities when they attempted to cross the border, hundreds were imprisoned.

The wall has always been called the Berlin Wall.

Today it is this name that is generally accepted. The government of East Germany called the wall “Antifaschistisher Schultzwall” (antifascist protective shaft).In this country, constantly inspired by fellow citizens, that in the western, “bad” part of the country, settled the fascists. In fact, it restricted the freedom of the citizens of the GDR. Propaganda did its job, denigrating the Germans, brothers. True, the citizens of the GDR soon realized who the wall was actually set against. The wall that appeared in August 1961 surprised the capitalist government of Germany. For two weeks during the construction of the anti-fascist defensive shaft, the leader of East Germany, Walter Ulbricht, inspired his people to “seal the cracks of houses and holes”, where the worst enemies of the German people could get through. The authorities suggested that the wall was designed to protect the people from danger, although the goal was to keep it from escaping into the civilized world. Yes, and the authorities of the FRG gave their nickname to the wall. The West Berlin senate used the policy of Willy Brandt, who called the site “The Shame Wall”. It was this term that appeared on the dead ends that appeared from behind the wall, and on the memorial of the victims of unsuccessful shoots. But in the early 1970s this term was removed from official use in the West. It was believed that this hinders the rapprochement of the two German states.

The Berlin Wall appeared at the insistence of the Soviet authorities, not the Germans.

It is generally accepted that the Soviet Union firmly controlled the entire socialist bloc. Therefore, the initiative to erect the wall came from Moscow. In fact, from the truth, such a judgment is far away. The truth here is that in 1952 the Soviet Union closed the border between East and West Germany. And Berlin at that time was under the joint administration of France, the USSR, the United States and Britain. The city was left out of this process. The decision to build the wall was taken by Walter Ulbricht, leader of the GDR. He saw that the East Germans are increasingly trying to escape to the West through a part of Berlin that is not controlled by the Communists. Ulbricht turned to Soviet leaders for advice, but they did not like the idea. They believed that such a radical closing of the border in Berlin would not only be technically impossible, but would also embitter citizens. And only after 8 years the Kremlin agreed to erection of the wall. Khrushchev gave Ulbricht the opportunity to begin preparations. German authorities created top-secret groups, began to store cement poles and barbed wire. The plan of overlapping metro, streets and railways was secretly worked out. At the time of the beginning of the construction of the wall, more than a thousand people each day irretrievably left East Germany. Ulbricht was determined to stop them. On the night of August 12-13, 1961, East German soldiers fenced 30 miles with wire, and a day later the pouring of the concrete foundation began.

The Berlin Wall fell on November 9, 1989.

Perestroika in the Soviet Union affected the countries of the socialist camp. In May 1989, Hungary destroyed the fortifications on the border with Austria. Residents of the GDR began to run massively to the west through their neighbor in the socialist camp. A political crisis broke out in the country. In October, the leadership of the SEDG resigned, and on November 4 in Berlin a mass meeting was held demanding freedom. On November 9, 1989, the chairman of the GDR government, Gunter Shabovsky, announced new rules for entering and leaving the country. Citizens could now obtain visas for a trip to the FRG. This news delighted the Berliners and hundreds of thousands of people rushed to the border, breaking the resistance of the siloviki. A national holiday has begun. Then the wall itself was only slightly damaged. The East Germans massively simply climbed over it. Only after a few days people began to demolish the wall, and most of its blocks – in general in a week. Active demolition began in October 1990, after the official unification of Germany. But it took several months. Almost completely the wall was removed only by 1992, retaining some of its parts as a reminder of the past. And in order to celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall, a date was required. So November 9, 1989 was the day of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The main culprit in the fall of the Berlin Wall was President Reagan.

Famous Reagan’s phrase is known: “Mr. Gorbachev, take down this wall.” It gave birth to the image of the American president as the main initiator of the fall of the wall. But this is an erroneous approach. The famous phrase was told in June 1987, two years before historical events. Yes, and the Secretary-General Mikhail Gorbachev has already launched a restructuring, which eventually demolished the wall. In 1989, the GDR was shaken by massive popular outrage. Thousands of people fled, seeking refuge in the embassies of Western countries. East German leaders turned to Gorbachev, urging them to abandon their previous strict rules for issuing visas for leaving the country. Such permission was given to people very rarely. As a result of the protests, the authorities decided to simplify the regime for leaving the country without special demands. The change was to be announced at a press conference by the representative of the Communist Party Gunter Shabovski. But he was ill prepared for the performance. When asked about the time when the new law came into force, he replied: “Immediately, without delay.” This was a signal for the people, who seemed to be allowed to leave the country without hindrance. In fact, it was about the possibility of obtaining visas.

Berlin Wall. Myths about the Berlin Wall

The fall of the Berlin became a holiday for all Germans.

It is generally accepted that the fall of the Berlin Wall has become a national holiday for all Germans. Yes, and the entire democratic world was happy about this event. In fact, for many Germans, especially the eastern, the unification proved difficult. Mass unemployment arose in the country, insults and mistrust flourished, and a combination of Western and Eastern cultures became a big problem. Even today, half the inhabitants of West Germany believe that they have not won anything from historical reunification. In the East of the country, there were 15%. But on November 9, the Germans remember another reason. On that day in 1938 the Nazis began to attack synagogues, Jewish enterprises. That pogrom was called the Night of Broken Glass or Kristallnacht. In the history of Germany, these events have remained an unpleasant and painful spot, celebrating anything on this day you do not want. Until 2010 Germany did not celebrate the fall of the wall. Even after the popular politician Wolfgang Thierse urged his colleagues to collect their courage and remember that there are positive moments in modern German history, the events of 1989 were not observed. Only in honor of the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 2014 were organized mass festivities. Under the sounds of “Ode to Joy”, accompanied by the speech of Chancellor Angela Merkel, more than 8 thousand air lanterns have risen to the sky. This holiday was attended by Mikhail Gorbachev and former Polish President Lech Walesa.

Berlin was the only city that was divided after the Second World War by a wall.

Most people believe that only Berlin was in a strange position divided into parts of the city. In fact, Austria was in a similar situation, which the allies won. The reason for the disagreement was that the West regarded this country as a victim of Nazi aggression. Nevertheless, Austria always had very close relations with Germany, so that the Allies carefully controlled the situation there. Four zones were established, which were run by France, the United States, Great Britain and the USSR. Vienna, like Berlin, was also divided into sections. That’s only in this case it was about five districts. Four were controlled by the Allies, and the fifth by the Allied Control Commission. The division existed from 1945 to 1955, when Austria gained complete independence. But the division of Berlin lasted 35 years longer. And in Germany, the Allies had a much more intense relationship. In Vienna there was no wall, as in Berlin, but it was built in spite of the wishes of the USSR. It was the officials of East Germany who decided to shield themselves from their neighbor.

The fall of the Berlin Wall pleased the Western leaders.

Today it seems to us that the West, undoubtedly, was delighted with the fall of the wall and the revival of a united Germany.Was not Ronald Reagan himself calling for the demolition of this shaft? That’s just the wrong approach. It turns out that both French President Francois Mitterrand and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher did not want Germany’s reunification and the events of November 9, 1989. The British in general were so unhappy that they bluntly told Gorbachev that they did not want German unification. This step could undermine the stability of international relations and jeopardize world stability. Mitterrand was upset at the fall of the wall, as he feared the spread of Nazi ideals throughout Europe. We think such fears are far-fetched, but this is the opinion of Germany’s closest neighbors. In the last century they were subjected to twice the powerful attack of the Germans. Both leaders understood that a single Germany would quickly rise from the ashes and conquer dominance on the continent. German Chancellor Helmut Kohl tried to reassure colleagues and their fears. It’s just that Europe still could not get away from the aftermath of World War II. And Germany was to become the largest economy in Europe, the country with the largest population and the recent history of dictatorship. A powerful influential competitor, Western leaders were afraid.

Western leaders reacted negatively to the erection of the Berlin Wall.

The Berlin Wall has become a symbol of undemocratic. It seems that its erection should have angered the entire advanced community. But this is a delusion. The division of Berlin created problems for the Soviets and for Western leaders. Today there are historians who see involvement in the construction of the wall and the US President John F. Kennedy. In 1961, no Western leader mentioned Western or Eastern Berlin in his public speeches. And then John Kennedy told the whole world that the US would defend its obligations to the residents of the western part of the city. After such an act, Nikita Khrushchev clearly understood that the United States was interested in the part of Berlin belonging to the Allies. Kennedy also realized that with the possibility of an unobstructed location in Berlin, Americans technically it was technically easy to observe what was going on in the eastern, Soviet part of the city. And the wall was not a hindrance. In the first days after the beginning of the construction of the country, the American president was vacationing in Giannis Port and did not arouse any concern about what was happening. But other Western leaders urged to remove the wall. Back in Washington, Kennedy said that the US simply had no choice. It would have been possible to send tanks to destroy the wall, but the Germans would have built a new one. So the US did nothing to keep the East Germans free.

The Berlin Wall was built overnight.

The story that a massive wall was built during the night, amazes gullible tourists. However, the real terms proved to be more impressive. During that very first night, only a wire fence was deployed, but a distance of 87 miles. And the construction of the wall was a gradual process. The first fence appeared in 1961, and the second only in 1962, at a distance of 100 meters. So there was a strip of death, filled with sand and obstacles. Over the next three years, the first fence was moved, and the second was reinforced. In 1965 the wall became actually concrete. The reason for this slow construction of the wall was the reluctant desire of the USSR to take this step. Finally, the wall was built by 1975. It turned into a complex engineering structure called “Grenzmauer 75”. Concrete blocks with a height of 3.6 meters could be pushed upwards if necessary. The Germans built watchtowers, brightly illuminated the territory, erected complex barriers. Inside the strip patrols went, and the sand zone was designed to fix the traces of violators. By the end of the 1980s it was planned to install video cameras and motion sensors. The complex was practically impenetrable. So that wall, the remains of which we see today, is not original. This is the fourth generation of the protective barrier erected by the Germans.

The Berlin country struck the inhabitants of East Berlin.

Suffered from its erection and in West Berlin.There daily, up to 60 thousand people went to work. With the emergence of the wall of these sought-after specialists, the western part of the city lost, so that it suffered economically.

Berlin Wall. Myths about the Berlin Wall

The Berlin Wall was built only to limit the freedoms of the East Germans.

As early as the 1950s, Western countries launched a real sabotage campaign in East Germany. The goal was to break the economy and undermine the country’s political system. In the United States, activists and young people were trained and funded. For the sake of exhibiting communists in a bad light even terrorists acted. Western agents made explosions, spoiled equipment and machines, poisoned cows, poured poison into their food, attacked activists. The American Woodrow Wilson International Center in its report acknowledged that the open border in Berlin exposes the GDR to mass espionage and sabotage. The construction of the wall provided the state with security. Until then, all calls by the authorities of the GDR and the Soviet Union to their allies to moderate such activities remained unheard.

The wall was a ground barrier.

The invisible border was laid underground. In Berlin, the metro has long been working. But after the prohibition on crossing the border of the train, they could only walk within its borders. True, there were three branches that walked along the western part, but also passed through the eastern one. Stations on the other side were guarded, and trains were forbidden to stop at them. The stops were called “ghostly”. And the Friedrichstasse station in East Berlin for passengers from the western part of the city was used as a transfer station. But it was possible to get out of it only with a special permission. When the wall fell, people were surprised to find that ghost stations had not changed much since 1961, retaining both their signs and their announcements.

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