Germany carved into four occupation areas Soviet Union occupied Eastern Germany and Eastern Berlin U.S., France, and Great Britain obtained West Germany and West Berlin Berlin was in East Germany
The German Democratic Republic (GDR) Communist Soviets took a lot of factory equipment left over from the war and sent it back to Russia for themselves Economy was dragging People‟s freedom was severely restricted
The Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) Democratic Republic Capitalist society was set up People lived well, bought what they wanted, and were able to travel freely
During the 1950‟s, many people fled East Germany to West Germany More economic opportunities In 1959, 144,000 people emigrated In 1960, 199,000 people left In 1961, 207,000 people fled
Ukrainian Joined the Soviet Communist Party in 1918 In 1956, denounced Stalin and his totalitarian ideals Major officials opposed this and he was nearly ousted Saidthat East and West Germany‟s relationship was a “peaceful coexistence”
On March 27, 1958 he replaced Nicolay Bulganin as Soviet premier (head of gov.) Also proposed an ultimatum for the U.S., France, and Great Britain Gave Western Powers 6 months to agree on withdrawing from Berlin and to make it a supposedly free city Stated that East Germany would have complete control over Berlin The United States, France, and Great Britain decided to remain in West Berlin
Duringtheir meeting in the U.S., they said in regard to a solution “all outstanding international questions should be settled, not by the application of force, but by peaceful means through negotiations.”
June 1961: Krushchev again wanted the powers to sign a new treaty, but they refused West Germany‟s inhabitants had permission to freely travel across borders Caused some problems when building the wall 32,000combat and engineer troops were involved in the construction of the wall
Construction began at 2:00 am on August 13, 1961 107 km long Wall made of concrete segments, about 4 m high Consisted of antitank obstacles, barbed wire, and barricades On the Eastern side, refugees were shot At least 100 people were killed at the Berlin Wall
Surprised by the sudden construction of the wall Increased the army‟s strength from 875,000 to around 1,000,000 Asked for funds to create shelters and stock them with food in case of attack August 31, 1961: ordered 148,000 guardsman as a response to the Soviet‟s move to eliminate all access to Berlin
Many USAF Reserve and Air National Guard units were deployed Largest overseas movement of a fighter force after WWII No planes were lost
What was the construction of the Berlin Wall‟s effect on East and West Germany? What was it‟s effect on the United States?
It‟seffect on both sides was probably aggravating because the Berlin Wall went against agreements made at the Potsdam conference. It was probably harder for people from the East because they were stuck under Communist control, while at least West Germans had freedom. People in East Germany could not express their displeasure because there were always secret police around.
Thewhole problem aided in the Cold War and the increasing disputes between them and the Soviets.
Iinterviewed Mr. Stamer, who lived in Germany during this time.
The building of the Berlin Wall was the conclusion of a series of international events between the Soviet Union and the US with West Germany, a US ally, and East Germany, a Soviet ally, caught in between the two super powers. The Russians did not like having the western part of Berlin sitting in the middle of communist East Germany which is why it was often referred to as the "island city", literally an island of freedom in the middle of a communist sea. The Russians had tried several provocations to try and have the western powers give up on West Berlin and let the communists take it over, the most famous of which resulted in the Berlin Airlift of 1948. I was away at a Boy Scout camp (German scouts were called Pathfinders) near the East/West border when news came about the midnight shutting down of access points between West and East Berlin and that the East Germans had thrown up barbed wire fencing and rushed in tanks and troops. It was feared that this was a prelude to a general communist invasion of West Germany. All kinds of rumors started mixed with a great fear that our camp near the Baltic coast would be in the path of the invasion because the great northern plain of Germany has been a traditional invasion route from the east throughout history. My parents along with others rushed from other parts of Germany to get us out of the camp. My parents had experienced WW II and knew what war meant and did not want their son to be a victim of another one.
Life in East Germany was repressive and depressing. There was no freedom of speech as we know it only the kind of freedom of speech which always supported the communist government.. The secret police (the Stasi) was everywhere. You never knew who to trust because they had literally millions of informers who would inform on you if you would even make a critical comment of the government. People would disappear into a vast prison system never to be heard from again. fear was everywhere. Americans have no clue what it means to live in a country where you have an over-reaching government which controls everything in an individuals life. It was a stifling, choking type of existence knowing that you were actually living in a prison system which represented itself internationally as a sovereign state even referring to itself as a "workers paradise". West Germany was different. It was a democratic/socialist state where you had much of the same freedoms we have here. There was no secret police which came knocking at the door late at night. Life was good, the economy was strong with lots of consumer goods not available in East Germany. You did not have to belong to a political party in order to have any kind of chance for a decent life as was the case in the east
Once the Berlin Wall was built by the communists people living in the east could no longer walk into West Berlin. The wall really does not truly decribe what it was, in fact it is misleading because it was a system of obstacles designed to kill anyone who tried to get to the west. Nevertheless people still tried to get over it,around it and under it. Guards had shoot to kill orders, no questions asked. The most famous death was that of a young 17 year old boy named Peter Fechter who made the attempt for freedom. The guards did not shoot right away, they let him get across several of the obstacle strips then waited till he got to the last one, that is when they shot him twice in the back. He laid there for more than an hour pleading for help as he slowly bled to death. The guards let this happen in order to show anyone else who would try what would happen to them.
The effect of the wall of both East and West Germany? You can only keep a people suppressed for so long before they throw off or break the chains that bind them. We only have to look to history to see countless examples of people rising up against their masters, kings and despots. Look what happened in Lybia, Egypt and Tunisia last year. Look at what is happening in Syria now. But we must also be careful that we don‟t overthrow a dictatorship only to replace it with another one. The East Germans rose up through peaceful demonstrations in all of their major cities in 1989 which eventually led to the downfall of the communist dictatorship and a quick unification with West Germany leading to a united Germany. The West German government did pretty much all in its power to help the East Germans throughout the period of East Germanys existence and kept the hope alive of an eventual German reunification which came to fruition in 1990.
The US played a powerful role in the history of Berlin. Had it not been for the US steadfastness and determination to stand up to communist aggression it would not only have led to the downfall of West Berlin but also, in the minds of many historians, to the downfall of western Europe and complete control of Europe under soviet domination. Probably two US presidents played a major role in the survival of West Berlin; John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. Reagan made his famous "Mr. Gorbachov, tear down this wall" speech in Berlin and was the driving force through his policies in the eventual defeat of communism. JFK made the also well known "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech in which he equated all freedom loving citizens around the world as citizens of Berlin who must stand against tyranny.
JFKvisited Berlin in June 1963 and exclaimed: “All freemen, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin. Therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words, „Ich bin ein Berliner‟. He meant to say “I am a Berliner”, but it was more accurately translated as “I am a donut” A Berliner is a popular German pastry