Berlin Wall - World War II | August 1961 - November 1989 | #FlashbackFriday

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The Berlin Wall, built by the German Democratic Republic, was a barrier that divided Berlin from 1961 to 1989. Beginning from 13 August 1961, the wall completely cut off West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and East Berlin until it was opened in November 1989. For the next 28 years, the heavily fortified Berlin Wall stood as the most tangible symbol of the Cold War – an ‘iron curtain’ dividing Europe. Its demolition officially began on 13 June 1990 and was completed in 1992.

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As World War II ended in 1945, a pair of Allied peace conferences at Yalta and Potsdam determined the fate of Germany’s territories. With the splitting of the defeated nation into four “allied occupation zones”, the eastern part of the country went to the Soviet Union, while the western part went to the United States, Great Britain, and France. Even though Berlin was located entirely within the Soviet part of the country, the Yalta and Potsdam agreements split the city into similar sectors. The Soviets took the eastern half, while the Allies took the western. This four-way occupation of Berlin began in June 1945.

The barrier, built in the post-World War II period of divided Germany, included guard towers placed along large concrete walls, which circumscribed a wide area that consisted of anti-vehicle trenches, "fakir beds" and other defenses. The Eastern Bloc claimed that the wall was constructed to protect its population from fascist elements, conspiring to prevent the "will of the people" in building a socialist state in East Germany. The wall served to prevent the massive emigration and defection that had marked East Germany and the communist Eastern Bloc during the post-World War II interval.

In 1989, a series of radical political transitions occurred in the Eastern Bloc, associated with the liberalization of the Eastern Bloc's authoritarian systems and the erosion of political power in the pro-Soviet governments in nearby Poland and Hungary. After several weeks of civil disturbance, the East German government announced on 9 November 1989 that all GDR citizens could visit West Germany and West Berlin. Crowds of East Germans crossed and climbed onto the wall, joined by West Germans on the other side in a celebratory atmosphere. Over the next few weeks, euphoric people and souvenir hunters chipped away parts of the wall, the government later used industrial equipment to remove all that was left. The fall of the Berlin Wall paved the way for German reunification, which was formally concluded on 3 October 1990.
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