A bar­rier which sep­a­rated eastern and west­ern Europe

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - NEWS -

It was the con­crete bar­rier which phys­i­cally and ide­o­log­i­cally di­vided Ber­lin from 1961 to 1989 and cre­ated mu­tual sus­pi­cion be­tween East and West.

And as any­body who has seen the Steven Spiel­berg film Bridge of Spies will be aware, the Ber­lin Wall was the fo­cus both of myr­iad es­cape at­tempts and deaths of those who tried to cross it.

Con­struc­tion was com­menced by the Ger­man Demo­cratic Repub­lic in Au­gust 1961 and the struc­ture cut off West Ber­lin from sur­round­ing East Ger­many, in­clud­ing East Ber­lin.

The bar­rier in­cluded guard tow­ers placed along large con­crete walls, ac­com­pa­nied by a wide area – later known as the “death strip” – which con­tained anti-ve­hi­cle trenches an­dotherde­fences.

The Eastern Bloc por­trayed the wall as pro­tect­ing its pop­u­la­tion from fas­cist el­e­ments con­spir­ing to pre­vent the “will of the peo­ple” in build­ing a so­cial­ist state in East Ger­many.

GDR au­thor­i­ties of­fi­cially re­ferred to the Ber­lin Wall as the Anti-Fas­cist Pro­tec­tion Ram­part.

How­ever, the West Ber­lin city govern­ment some­times re­ferred to it as the “Wall of Shame”, a term coined by mayor Willy Brandt in ref­er­ence to its re­stric­tion on free­dom of move­ment.

It came to sym­bol­ise the “Iron Cur­tain” that sep­a­rated West­ern Europe and the Eastern Bloc dur­ing the Cold War.

Be­tween 1961 and 1989, it pre­vented any­body cross­ing the great di­vide, but more than 100,000 peo­ple at­tempted to es­cape and at least 5,000 of them were suc­cess­ful.

The es­ti­mated death toll was be­tween 150 and 200.

Willy Brandt

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