Fall of the Berlin Wall Period 6, GuyerPresentation Transcript
The Fall of the Berlin Wall By Paul Bechtel Clay Boquet Marc Jean Marie
Intro The Berlin Wall was a symbol of communism and everything it represented to the Western world for many years. It was a large wall, built by the communist nation Russia, to separate the democratic and independent Western Germany from its Communist and Russian controlled Eastern counterpart. It was at first opened during the day for people to cross to purchase goods and to work, but eventually, once political ties were strained enough, it was fully closed and anybody attempting to cross it without authorization was shot. It was eventually torn down in 1989, however sections of it still stand today to remind the German people of the danger of Communism.
After the War After Germany was defeated in World War Two its infrastructure and its economy were badly wounded. To help the nation recover, and to prevent another war breeding grudge, the victors of the war split Germany four ways, the British got the north west, the French got the South-west, The Americans got the south-east, and the Russians got the north-east. The capitol, Berlin, was split up in the same way, even though it was deep in the Russian’s territory.
After the war (2) After about two years of attempted reconstruction the political ties between Russia and the rest of the world were frayed. Among the many things that the Alliance fought about was the reconstruction itself. Russia frequently fought plans that would help make Germany self-sufficient. Eventually it was shown that, Stalin, the leader of Russia, was creating a buffer zone of small countries to stop any potential invasions from the East. This belt, which included Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Hungry, was known as the Eastern bloc.
After the war (3) It was later revealed that Russia had a plan to undermine the rest of the German sections while fortifying its hold on the East. Stalin hoped to make a weakened Germany part of the Bloc this way. In 1948 these problem reached a head and Stalin started the Berlin Blockade. This was a policy to stop all food, materials, and supplies from reaching Berlin. In response to this the Allies instituted what was known as the “Berlin Airlift” a plan that involved sending many loads of supplies into East Germany with all of the planes available to them. After this plan was foiled communists attempted to disrupt the German elections in the same year, this failed as well. Soon afterward East Germany changed into the German Democratic Republic thus officially putting them out of Stalin’s reach.
The Creation Of The Wall In the year 1952 the Soviets decided to crack down of immigration between the two halves of Germany. Before this time is was easy to get from one side of Germany to the other, but after the emigration crackdown it became much harder for any movement to be made between the two states. A barbed wire fence was erected between the sides, emigration was still allowed, however on August, 21, 1961 this changed. An order was released by Soviet officials to close down the border between east and West Germany, and to build a wall through Berlin to stop any escapes.
The Early Wall At midnight german soldiers worked to close the border between the German halves, and by the Sunday of that week they were finished. At first the wall was constructed mainly of destroyed streets (to block Vehicles) and Barbed wire (to stop morons who didn't notice the gun-toting guards), but as soon as August 15 the first blocks of the infamous Berlin Wall were laid. During its construction guards were placed around it with orders to shoot anyone attempting to “defect”. Additional traps like mine fields and spike filled trenches were added at this time as well.
The Effects of the Wall People were horrified by the wall set up in Berlin. Because of the rapidity of its construction there were many stories of Men and Women who had gone on trips or had a job in West Germany only to be unable to reenter their country because of the wall. Government action against the wall from the rest of the world was poor at best. Upon hearing of the wall most of the Allies agreed that it would be foolhardy to try to help the oppressed East Germans. The most drastic action was taken by the U.S. FDR sent out one of his closest advisors along with the Vice President and three brigades of troops to be stationed there. Every three months for the next four years a new brigade was swapped into duty in West Germany. The wall stopped the effects of having a black market and two currencies from hurting the rest of Germany. This allowed West Germany to stabilize its economy. However the wall caused the murders of any German people who tried to cross it and this made other countries look down upon Germany.
Defection Attempts Only about 5,000 people successfully defected across the wall. It is said that over 200 people died attempting to cross the wall, however the number is still open to dispute. There are many fantastic stories about how people in the restrictive communities managed to cross the wall with limited supplies, homemade armor, hot-air balloons, and stolen vehicles were all used to cross the wall.
The Beginning of the End After some time Stalin was replaced with another man known as Mikhail Gorbachev, Mikhail was constantly under pressure from the Allies to give the Eastern Bloc states more freedom, most famously from the American president Ronald Reagan and his statement “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” Gorbachev eventually allowed some of the Eastern Bloc more freedom, he first removed the border separating Hungary from Austria and after this event many of the other Eastern Bloc countries were clamoring for the same border freedom, and the loudest of all of them was East Germany.
The Fall of the Wall Over the next few months after the fall of the Austria/Hungary border many protests were held to try to remove the wall. In one gathering more than half a million people were present. While all of this was going on the East German government decided to modify the border policy to allow people to go through for limited amounts of time, this policy change was scheduled to occur on November, 9th. However, the news was accidentally leaked to a local news station that reported it as not a policy change, but an opening of the borders for all of Germany. On November 9th thousands of people flooded the wall and demanded that the guards to open the gates, unwilling to use lethal force on so many people, the guards allowed them through, the Berlin wall was done.
Target Question How did the presence of the wall affect the citizens everyday lives?
Points of View West + East The people on the western side of the wall were less affected by its construction, but there were still some instances of people being inconvenienced. The most common occurrence was people who lived on the East/West border losing lobs because their workplace was located in West Germany, but there are still some horror stories of children being separated from their families and people losing their homes when stuck on the wrong side of the wall. The people that lived in the East had all of the problems of the Westerners coupled by the power of the communists. People who lived in houses close to the wall were evicted for fear of tunneling attempts, and any buildings that were considered too tall that were close to the wall were torn down to prevent people from trying to jump to freedom.
Groups Point of View In our group, we have a hard time comprehending what happened to the people on both sides of the wall. The sheer terror of knowing that at any time you could be thrown out of your house, or lose a family member is bad enough to think about, but when you consider that you would be trapped in that situation it only seems worse. We are all thankful that we live in a nation where such acts will hopefully never be committed.
Conclusion To summarize the story of the Berlin Wall is simplicity itself. Russia became paranoid and cut itself off from the other countries with a wall. People who attempted to cross without authorization were shot, and if you were on the wrong side you were oppressed horribly. It was eventually destroyed thanks to a regime change and a mistake.
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