The Berlin Wall was a barrier constructed by the German Democratic Republic (GDR) starting on 13 August 1961 that completely cut off West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin. The barrier included guard towers placed along large concrete walls, which circumscribed a wide area (later known as the "death strip") that contained anti-vehicle trenches, "fakir beds" and other defenses. The Eastern Bloc claimed that the wall was erected to protect its population from fascist elements conspiring to prevent the "will of the people" in building a socialist state in East Germany. In practice, the Wall served to prevent the massive emigration that marked Germany and the communist Eastern Bloc during the post-World War II period.
THE ESCAPE FROM EAST BERLIN
Professional gangs built tunnels that would go under the Berlin Wall (and charged extortionate fees for refugees to use them). One tunnel began in an East Berlin graveyard, where “mourners” brought flowers to a grave and then disappeared underground. And they would have gotten away with it to until Communist officers discovered a baby carriage left by the “grave”. Sealing up the tunnel followed. The East German families of Peter Strelzyk and Guenter Wetzel worked together to create a homemade hot-air balloon. Their wives stitched together curtains, bedsheets, and random scraps to construct a 65-foot-wide, 75-foot-high balloon. On the night of September 15, 1979, the group launched their contraption, which had just enough fuel to make it over the wall and into West Berlin BY MAX BENSON GAUNT
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