During WWII the Soviet army captured the German city of Berlin. The U.S., Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union all occupied a sector of Berlin. The United States, Britain, and France occupied sectors in West German and Berlin while the Soviet Union occupied the East. Because of this, when the Cold War started, East and West Berlin were divided both in opinion and territory.
The Soviets were communist and the leaders of West Germany were determined that all of Germany should be communistic. The Soviets tried to force the Western powers to give up their control over their three sectors. After their attempts to convince them to give up their control failed, the Soviet side cut West Berlin, which was isolated in the middle of East Germany, from all land and air travel. West Berlin was frozen and starving, but they refused to give in.
The Western Allies started what is commonly known as the Berlin Airlift. Great amounts of food and supplies were dropped by plane. West Berlin was not given up by the Allies. East Germany however, did give up the blockade of West Berlin after a year. They determined that something else must be done.
East Berlin lost many people to West Berlin. It was said approximately two and a half million people escaped the communistic East Germany simply by crossing the border from East Berlin into the West. A common method of this escape was by subway. At one station they believed that one out of every three people leaving the station was actually an escaping citizen of East Germany. East Germany was rapidly losing its much needed work force.
Walter Ulbricht was the man most blamed for the building of the Berlin Wall. In public, he denied all rumors of even the consideration of cutting off the border routes. The denial of the idea of closing the border was a plan to keep the flow of people escaping from increasing before the wall was built. Ulbricht believed that people would desperately flee as soon as they heard of the plans for the wall.
On a Saturday night in 1961, the wall was hastily built. Since it was the weekend, the unsuspecting people were vacationing after their week of long work and did not notice the hidden rolls of barbwire and timber slashed away where the wall was to be built. People whose houses stood where the separation was were no longer allowed to use their Western doors. Many used the windows to escape but others were caught by the East police or lost their lives in the process. By the end of the first couple weeks, the windows and doors were sealed off with bricks.
The Berlin was more than a sliver of grey concrete. It was watchtowers, guards, guns, barbed wire, and even mines. As determined as many East Berliners were to cross to freedom, they had to risk so much in the process. For many, the risk led to their deaths.
The wall was disapproved of by many of the citizens. Because of the sudden construction, many families were instantly separated. The dangers sometimes outweighed the thought of unification. Wanting to at the very least see their loved ones, platforms were built on the West side of the wall and families would find some comfort in mere glimpses of their loved ones.
Another negativity of the wall was the sheer conflict of beliefs. Some who did not share the opinions of Germany were quickly forced in a problematic situation. They couldn’t escape from the strict rules of communism. The wall had clearly put them on the wrong side.
Family and beliefs were not the only things the wall separated. Though not physically, the Berlin wall drew a line right through Germany. You were either East German or you were West German. There were no in between grey sections. People had to choose sides...