Later Germany lost World War II the country was split into four zones, each
occupied by one of the four Allied powers that defeated the Nazis. (je kan
misschien een foto hiervan plakken in je verslag; je kan het opnemen als
bijlage I) The zones organized by France, Great Britain and America became West
Germany, or Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Federal Republic of Germany = FRG). The
Soviet-controlled zone turned into East Germany, or Deutsche Demokratische
Republik (Germany Democratic Republic = GDR). Germany’s capital, Berlin, was
situated in Soviet-controlled East Germany , but as this city was the
administrative area for the Allied forces, it too was divided into four. This
meant that France, Great Britain and America controlled West Berlin, whereas
the Soviet Union organized the East. Associations between America and the
Soviet Union soured significantly during much of the second half of the
Twentieth Century. The Berlin Wall was a mark of this hostility, a physical image
of what was called the Iron Curtain.
The Iron Curtain symbol represented the ideological conflict and physical
boundary separating Europe into two unconnected areas from the end of World War
II in 1945 until the end of the Cold War in 1991. The term symbolized struggles
by the Soviet Union to block itself and its satellite federations from open association
with the west and non-Soviet-controlled areas. On the east side of the Iron
Curtain were the nations that were allied to or influenced by the Soviet Union.
On either side of the Iron Curtain, states established their own international
economic and military associations.
Economic condition in West and East Berlin
West Berlin received economic help from the Alli ed
powers (especially Marshall Fund of the United States) , but East Berlin didn’t
get any support from Soviet Union. Unlike East Berlin West Berlin could construct
a good economy. In East Berlin, there was food unavailability and there was
unemployment, while they had enough food and luxury in West Berlin. The result
was that a lot of people who lived in East Berlin escaped to West Berlin. There
were so many people that the GDR fell from 18.4 million in 1950 to 17.2 million
in 1960. Particularly highly trained workers relocated to West Berlin, to find
a better job there. Only low-skilled workers remained in East Berlin.
The rise of the Wall
On August 13,1961 Premier Khrushchev of the Soviet Union gave the East German
Government consent to stop the flow of immigrants by closing its border for
good. In just two weeks, the East German army, police force and volunteer
construction workers had completed a makeshift barbed wire and concrete block
wall’the Berlin Wall (45 kilometers long)’that divided one side of the city
from the other.
Before the wall was built, Berliners on both sides of the city could move
around fairly freely: They crossed the East-West border to work, to shop, to go
to the theater and the movies. Trains and subway lines carried passengers back
and forth. After the wall was built, it became impossible to get from East to
West Berlin except through one of three checkpoints: at Helmstedt, at
Dreilinden and in the center of Berlin at Friedrichstrasse. (Eventually, the
GDR built 12 checkpoints along the wall.) At each of the checkpoints, East
German soldiers screened diplomats and other officials before they were allowed
to enter or leave. Except under special circumstances, travelers from East and
West Berlin were rarely allowed across the border.
After World War II Germany was divided into West Germany and East Germany (as
stated above). In East Germany the Communism arose and in West Germany the
In the west, it was actually quite good. There was free economy, so it went fine
with the prosperity. This was done with the support of the United States. There
were free elections and a parliamentary democracy.
In East Germany the communists took control and the SED (Sozialistische
Einheitspartei Deutschlands) became the official state party. There was a
people’s democracy under the leadership of the communists. There were no free
elections. There was a tyranny because the political party was the only party
that did exist. The residents of the East were very suppressed. There was no
freedom of speech. Only positive things about the SED appeared in the newspaper
and the negative things were omitted (propaganda). East Berliners wanted to
live in freedom like the West Berliners.
Social and economical consequences of Berlin Wall
Most people lost their jobs because 60,000 East Berliners were working in West
Berlin and 13,000 West Berliners in East Berlin. Before the wall West Berliners
could buy their products for lower prices in East Berlin. People were separated
from relatives, because they were living on the other side of the wall.
At the beginning the West Germans felt imprisoned by the Berlin Wall, but it
soon became apparent that the East Germans were locked. Unlike the East Germans
the West Germans lived in luxury. The West Germans could just eat, drink and
wear anything what they wanted. In fact, the West Germans were not much
affected by the wall beyond the fact that they were separated from relatives in
the East (as stated above). Until 1972 it was not allowed to travel to the
other side of the city. The East Germans tried to sneak in all kinds of
articles like food and clothes from the West.