THE FALL OF BERLIN WALL
Context: On November 9, Germany marks the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall
- On August 13, 1961, the Communist government of the German Democratic Republic (GDR, or East Germany) began to build a barbed wire and concrete antifascist bulwark, between East and West Berlin.
- The official purpose of this Berlin Wall was to keep Western “fascists” from entering East Germany and undermining the socialist state, but it primarily served the objective of stemming mass defections from East to West.
- The Berlin Wall stood until November 9, 1989, when the head of the East German Communist Party announced that citizens of the GDR could cross the border whenever they pleased
The Berlin Wall
- The Berlin Wall was a guarded concrete barrier that physically and ideologically divided Berlin from 1961 to 1989.
- Construction of the Wall was commenced by the German Democratic Republic on 13 August 1961.
- The Wall cut off West Berlin from surrounding East Germany, including East Berlin
- The fall of the Berlin Wall 29 years ago was one of the most consequential events of the 20th century, exposing the Soviet Union as a corrupt, weak “empire” and effectively ending the Cold War.
- The fall began the evening of 9 November 1989 and continued over the following days and weeks On 13 June 1990, the East German Border Troops officially began dismantling the Wall
- On 1 July 1990, the day East Germany adopted the West German currency, allde jure border controls ceased, although the inter-German border had become meaningless for some time before that. The demolition of the Wall was completed in 1992.
- But it did not happen overnight. The fall of the wall was preceded by decades of political tyranny and economic backwardness.
Various factors which led to the fall of wall
- While the West enjoyed prosperity and personal freedom, the East had fallen into an economic and political morass.
- The communist façade of power and authority cracked and the people’s natural desire for freedom, dammed up for more than 40 years, burst forth.
- It collapsed because of the Reagan Doctrine, which applied economic, political and strategic pressure (including the Strategic Defense Initiative) on Moscow.
- Part of the reason lay in geography. Although separate and distinct countries, Poland, Hungary, East Germany and Czechoslovakia formed a tight little region.
- Resentment, frustration and hope were all inevitable in this cluster of states with the deepest cultural ties with Western Europe.
SIGNIGICANCE OF THE EVENT
- The fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989, was a pivotal event in world history which marked the falling of the Iron Curtain.
- The fall of the inner German border took place shortly afterwards.
- An end to the Cold War was declared at the Malta Summit three weeks later, and the reunification of Germany took place during the following year.
- The fall of the Wall marked the first critical step towards German reunification, which formally concluded a mere 339 days later on 3 October 1990 with the dissolution of East Germany and the official reunification of the German state along the democratic lines of the West German Basic Law.
- Though East and West Germany were formally reunified on October 3, 1990, thefall of the Berlin Wall served as a symbol of the country’s unification—and, for many, the end of communism in Eastern Europe and the Cold War.
- To this day, the Berlin Wall remains one of the most powerful and enduring symbols of the Cold War