The Berlin Wall

The Berlin wall stood not only as a physical divider between East and West Germany, but as a political rift between the Western Allies and the Soviet Union. This timeline details the events surrounding the creation and the eventual fall of the Berlin Wall.

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1961-08-12 00:00:00


Mass emigrations from East to West Germany had culminated in thousands of refugees leaving the communist East Germany. On the 12th of August "a record number of people (approximately 4,000) fled from East to West Berlin." Later that day the East German government began preparations to construct a dividing barrier to curb the refugee exodus. Image Source:

1961-08-13 00:00:00

Construction of the Berlin Wall

The creation of a dividing barrier to prevent more East Germans from leaving the country was realized on the 13th of August 1961. The wall accomplished its goal of defusing the crisis, although there were still some East German residents who attempted to leave the country. Eventually, several more measures were incorporated at the border, named the "Death Strip" which included floodlights, attack dogs, and trip-wire machine guns. Image Source:

1961-10-27 00:00:00

The Berlin Crisis

Access through the Eastern German territories to reach West Berlin had become increasingly more difficult for US diplomats. As a show of force, the American General Clay ordered several M48 tanks to stand at the border between East and West Berlin at Checkpoint Charlie. Russian T55 tanks were called in from East Berlin to oppose the M48s and the two tank groups faced each other down for 16 hours before each side eventually pulled back and events normalized. Image Source:

1962-08-17 00:00:00

Death of Peter Fechter

Desperate to reach West Berlin, Peter Fechter attempted to cross the Berlin border from East Germany into West Germany after crossing a gauntlet of barbed wire and fences. He was shot in the back before reaching the West, and "for nearly an hour, he lay bleeding to death and crying for help." Without any way to reach him, West German guards could only watch as Fechter died. Image Source:

1963-06-26 00:00:00

US President Speaks in West Berlin

Amid construction of the Berlin Wall were growing tensions between the Eastern and Western governments of Germany. To curb the Western German government’s dissatisfaction with the US for not acting, President John F. Kennedy traveled to West Berlin and stated, "Ich bin ein Berliner!" or "I am a Berliner!" to reassure the West Germans that the US would continue to support West Berlin. Image Source:

1971-09-03 00:00:00

The Four Power Agreement

The Four Power Agreement, or the Quadripartite Agreement, was an agreement between the Western Allies and the Soviet Union and involved the travel rights of the people in East and West Berlin. Included in the agreement was the guaranteed movement of traffic to and from West Berlin without hindrance and both the East and West German governments to recognize "each other's independence and sovereignty" from one another. Image Source:

1973-10-01 00:00:00

Firing Orders

Direct orders for the East German guards to fire upon were issued. Included in the document were the orders, “Do not hesitate to use your firearm, not even when the border is breached in the company of women and children.” These orders were assigned to East German guards to use lethal force to prevent anyone from crossing the border.

1975-01-01 00:00:00

Construction of the Stutzwandelement UL 12.11

(Exact date unknown, estimated to be sometime during 1975) After several versions of the Berlin Wall, each with the purpose of making the wall more impenetrable than the previous wall, the Stutzwandelement UL 12.11 was the last version of the Berlin wall to be built. Also known as the Grenzmauer 75, or Border Wall '75, the wall consisted of an estimated 45,000 reinforced concrete pieces measured at 3.6m tall by 1.2 meters high and topped with a smooth pipe to prevent anyone from scaling the wall. Image Source:

1985-01-22 00:00:00

Demolition of the Church of Reconciliation

The Church of Reconciliation was located in an area that was within the "death strip" in East Berlin. Due to its location, it interfered with expansions conducted along the border grounds, which resulted in the church being demolished. Despite its significance, the church served as an example of the buildings that were demolished around the Berlin Wall to support greater boundary controls. Image Source:

1989-11-04 00:00:00

East Berlin Protests

Rapid growth in public protests and dissatisfaction with the East German government took place in East Berlin on November 4th, 1975. The protests had amassed "over a million people" who called for the end of the Soviet Regime. Image Source:

1989-11-09 00:00:00

Fall of the Berlin Wall

Amid the growing discontent for the current Regime, the spokesman of East Berlin's Communist Party announced a "change in his city's relations with the West" and that East German citizens would be allowed to cross the border at midnight. As over 2 million residents of East and West Berlin meet in celebration, the Berlin wall is broken apart by picks, hammers, bulldozers and cranes. Image Source:

The Berlin Wall

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