Berlin Wall (November 16, 1989)
After World War II, Berlin was divided into four sectors. The Russians, Americans, British and French each had a portion of the city under their control. The Russian sector was by far the largest and covered most of eastern Berlin -- Friedrichshain, Köpenick, Lichtenberg, Mitte, Pankow, Prenzlauer Berg, Treptow, and Weißensee.
From 1949 the three sectors controlled by the United States, Britain and France (West Berlin), although nominally independent, were in effect a part of West Germany that was completely surrounded by East Germany.
Initially the citizens of Berlin were allowed to freely move between all the sectors, but as the Cold War developed movement became restricted; the border between East and West Germany was closed in 1952 and the attractiveness of the Western sectors of Berlin to the citizens of East Germany increased. Around 2.5 million East Germans crossed into the West between 1949 and 1961.
To stop the migration, construction of a wall around the three western sectors began on August 13, 1961, East Berlin. It first consisted of barbed wire, which was later replaced by the actual wall. The wall physically divided the city; as it completely surrounded West Berlin, it effectively turned the western sectors into an island in the eastern territories.
East Germany claimed that it was an "antifascist wall of protection" intended to avoid aggression from the West. It was clear from the beginning that this justification served as a cover for the fact that the citizens of East Germany had to be prevented from entering West Berlin and thereby West Germany (East Germany did not completely control traffic between West Berlin and the rest of West Germany).
The Wall was over 155 km long. After the initial construction, it was regularly improved. The "fourth generation wall", begun in 1975, was reinforced concrete, 3.6m high and constructed out of 45,000 separate 1.5m sections at a cost of 16,155,000 East German Marks. The border was also guarded by mesh fencing, signal fencing, anti-vehicle trenches, barbed wire, over 300 watch towers, and thirty bunkers.
At first, there was only one crossing point for Westerners, at Friedrichstraße; the Western powers had two further checkpoints, at Helmstedt on the border between East-Germany and the main part of West-Germany and Dreilinden on the south border of West Berlin. The checkpoints were named phonetically Alpha (Helmstedt), Bravo (Dreilinden), and Charlie (Friedrichstraße) (see map of Berlin with crossingsAugust 231989Erich HoneckerOctober 181989Egon KrenzNovember 91989Günter SchabowskiLeonard BernsteinBeethovenRoger WatersPink FloydThe Wall21 July1990reunificationGermanyOctober 31990