The Berlin Wall was a barrier that divided Berlin from 1961 to 1989, constructed by the German Democratic Republic (GDR, East Germany) starting on 13 August 1961, that completely cut off (by land) West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin until it was opened in November 1989. Its demolition officially began on 13 June 1990 and was completed in 1992. The barrier included guard towers placed along large concrete walls, which circumscribed a wide area (later known as the 'death strip') that contained anti-vehicle trenches, 'fakir beds' and other defenses. The Eastern Bloc claimed that the wall was erected to protect its population from fascist elements conspiring to prevent the 'will of the people' in building a socialist state in East Germany. In practice, the Wall served to prevent the massive emigration and defection that marked East Germany and the communist Eastern Bloc during the post-World War II period.

The Berlin Wall was officially referred to as the 'Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart' by GDR authorities, implying that the NATO countries and West Germany in particular were 'fascists.' The West Berlin city government sometimes referred to it as the 'Wall of Shame'—a term coined by mayor Willy Brandt—while condemning the Wall's restriction on freedom of movement. Along with the separate and much longer Inner German border (IGB), which demarcated the border between East and West Germany, it came to symbolize the 'Iron Curtain' that separated Western Europe and the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War.

Before the Wall's erection, 3.5 million East Germans circumvented Eastern Bloc emigration restrictions and defected from the GDR, many by crossing over the border from East Berlin into West Berlin, from where they could then travel to West Germany and other Western European countries. Between 1961 and 1989, the wall prevented almost all such emigration. During this period, around 5,000 people attempted to escape over the wall, with an estimated death toll of from 136 to more than 200 in and around Berlin.

In 1989, a series of radical political changes occurred in the Eastern Bloc, associated with the liberalization of the Eastern Bloc's authoritarian systems and the erosion of political power in the pro-Soviet governments in nearby Poland and Hungary. After several weeks of civil unrest, the East German government announced on 9 November 1989 that all GDR citizens could visit West Germany and West Berlin. Crowds of East Germans crossed and climbed onto the wall, joined by West Germans on the other side in a celebratory atmosphere. Over the next few weeks, euphoric people and souvenir hunters chipped away parts of the wall; the governments later used industrial equipment to remove most of what was left. Contrary to popular belief the wall's actual demolition did not begin until the summer of 1990 and was not completed until 1992. The fall of the Berlin Wall paved the way for German reunification, which was formally concluded on 3 October 1990.

The East Side Gallery is an international memorial for freedom. It is a 1.3 km long section of the Wall located near the centre of Berlin. The actual border at this point was the river Spree. The gallery is located on the so-called 'hinterland mauer', which closed the border to West Berlin.

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Founded: 1961
Category:
Historical period: Cold War and Separation (Germany)

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4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Alvir Garejo (6 months ago)
One of a kind experience to be there 2 years ago. Historical site and well done on our tour guide for the detailed information. The weather during that time was really cold. But overall happy to be able to visit and witness the historical site.
Fiona McBride (10 months ago)
A beautifully done testimony to the wall. The information panels tell the story in a fair and neutral way and are given in German, English and (I think) Russian. Also provides a good sense of scale for the different iterations of the border fortifications.
Kornel Łukasiak (12 months ago)
History mostly important for Germans, but history really well told. We can see old pictures of the wall and then touch the wall itself. Really good idea. It takes about 15 minutes to check everything around.
Yanet Odales (12 months ago)
If you are arrived in Berlin, you cannot miss this place. Really chilling but inevitable to visit, a very sad place but with an incredible history. In this memorial there is a full fragment of what the wall used to be and it is possible to see photos and videos of those moments of 80 decade. Just unforgettable. Don't lose it!
Danger Love (13 months ago)
Awesome place. Gives a great insight in German recent history. Honor to the people giving their lives when trying to escape from the east german regime. Very happy that the wall came down but we should never forget that walls are not a solution.
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