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Berlin Wall

the division between East and West Berlin for almost 30 years

German and Soviet troops began erecting the Berlin Wall during the night of August 13, 1961. By the time Berliners awoke the following morning the border between West and East Berlin had been closed and troops had begun tearing up streets and laying barbed wire entanglement and fences. By August 14, a stone wall topped with barbed wire had closed off the Brandenburg Gate. Concrete elements and large square blocks began going up on August 15, and by August 26 the entire border between West and East Berlin (and the rest of Eastern Germany) had been closed.

East Berliners examine the wall soon after its construction.
East Berliners examine the wall soon after its construction in 1961
The wall closing off the Brandenburg Gate.
the wall closing off the Brandenburg Gate
An Allied soldier stands at the ready at the Brandenburg Gate.
allied soldier watching the Brandenburg Gate
A West German reproaches an East Berlin border guard.
West Berlin woman reproaches East Berlin border guard
A young West Berlin man stands on a ladder to blow a kiss to his sweetheart on the other side of the wall.
West Berliner blows a kiss across the wall
U.S. soldiers on a tank face the Friedrichstrasse Crossing. The bouquet of flowers between them was a gift from West Berliners.
U.S. soldiers watch the Friedrichstrass crossing
A West Berlin housewife weeps as she watches a parade of U.S. troops entering the city.
West Berlin housewife
An East German policeman flashes his mirror into the faces of observers.
East German policeman
East Berliners look into West Berlin from behind a section of the wall.
East Berliners look into West Berlin
Soviet tanks faceWest Berlin at the Friedrichstrasse Crossing.
Soviet tanks face the Friedrichstrasse crossing
A boy leaps from the fourth floor of an apartment house on the border into a net held by West Berlin firemen. Later, the windows of the building, situated with entrances in both sectors of the city, were bricked up by East German workers to prevent further such escapes.
leaping into West Berlin

The Wall was twice "improved" over the next three decades. In 1965, the concrete elements and square blocks were replaced by concrete slabs between steel girder and concrete posts, with a concrete sewage pipe running along the top of the Wall. In 1975, these slabs were replaced by new concrete segments which were easy to build up and were more resistant to breakthroughs and environmental pollutants.

On November 9, 1989, East Berliners succeeded in their decades-long attempt to open the wall. The Brandenburg Gate re-opened on December 22, and The Wall officially came down when Germany formally reunited on October 3, 1990.

By the time the Wall came down more than 239 persons had been killed trying to get into West Berlin.

Basic Facts

Total length -- 96 mi (155 km)
Border between East and West Berlin -- 27 mi (43.1 km)
Border between West Berlin and East Germany -- 69 mi (111.9 km)

Height of concrete segment wall -- 11.81 ft (3.6 m)
Length of concrete segment wall -- 66 mi (106 km)
Number of concrete segments -- 45,000
Total weight of concrete segments -- over 2.5 tons

Number of watch towers -- 302
Number of bunkers -- 20


Berlin Wall Online

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The Robinson Library >> Berlin

This page was last updated on 09/18/2018.