The Berlin Wall

August 1961 - November 1989

East German border guards

August 1961: East German border guards seal off Brandenburg gate



Justified by the East German government as a "protective measure" and the only way of "securing peace in Europe", the Berlin Wall is THE symbol of the Cold War.

Practically overnight, the city of Berlin was divided, splitting up families, lovers, friends.

Later, the border fortifications were extended all around the boundaries of the so-called German Democratic Republic. (East Germany).

The government called it an "anti-imerialistic fortification". But the guns and watch towers were pointed to the inside...


Peter Fechter, shot at the wall

August 1962: One of the first victims of the wall, 18 year old Peter Fechter was left bleeding to death after being shot by East German guards.

The Berlin Wall from above

1962 - 1989: the Brandenburg Gate, once part of a bustling city center, is surrounded by an eerie death strip.

The "WALL" was more than just that. From the West, it was graffiti-covered slabs of concrete, about 12 feet high. But on the other side, there was a "death strip" more than half a mile wide - containing barbed wire, alarms, mine fields, guard towers, armed guards and attack dogs.

Between August 1961 and November 1989, more than a Million East Germans crossed the border on a one-way trip to a better life - leaving behind home and family in their quest for freedom. Less than half of these emigrations were legal, the rest were daring escapes. Almost a thousand people, including women and children, lost their lives at the cruel border fortifications. Tens of thousands were caught and imprisoned.

In Fall of 1989, the Berlin Wall began to crumble, as the East German government caved in under the pressure of demonstrators. Travel restrictions were eased and more visas allowed for travel in the West. But the reforms could not keep up with the mounting pressure of the revolution, and on November 9, 1989 the government declared the restrictions lifted. Thousands of people flocked to the wall to celebrate their long-awaited freedom.

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More Information & Pictures of the Berlin Wall


Documentaries on East Germany


Dresden, East Germany (info & photos)


This page was created by Simone Shoemaker, Coastline Productions. For comments, questions or to report missing links, please contact: