The Berlin Wall fell 25 years ago, but Germany is still dividedGer,any inner German border German: Old east germany map the eastern side, it was made one of the world's most heavily fortified frontiers, defined by a continuous line of high metal fences and wallsbarbed wire, alarms, anti-vehicle ditches, watchtowers, automatic booby traps and minefields. The border was a physical manifestation of Winston Churchill's metaphorical Iron Curtain that separated the Soviet and Western blocs during the Anavar high cholesterol War. Built by East Germany in phases from to the late s,  the fortifications were constructed to stop the large-scale emigration of East German citizens to the West, about 1, easr whom are said to have died trying to cross it gefmany its year existence. Berlin, which was entirely within the Soviet zone, had been similarly divided by the four powers after World War IIthus creating an exclave surrounded by Old east germany map Germany that was closely aligned with but not formally part of West Germany. Over the following days, millions of East Germans poured into the West to deca quizbowl.
The Berlin Wall fell 25 years ago, but Germany is still divided - The Washington Post
The inner German border German: On the eastern side, it was made one of the world's most heavily fortified frontiers, defined by a continuous line of high metal fences and walls , barbed wire, alarms, anti-vehicle ditches, watchtowers, automatic booby traps and minefields. The border was a physical manifestation of Winston Churchill's metaphorical Iron Curtain that separated the Soviet and Western blocs during the Cold War.
Built by East Germany in phases from to the late s,  the fortifications were constructed to stop the large-scale emigration of East German citizens to the West, about 1, of whom are said to have died trying to cross it during its year existence. Berlin, which was entirely within the Soviet zone, had been similarly divided by the four powers after World War II , thus creating an exclave surrounded by East Germany that was closely aligned with but not formally part of West Germany.
Over the following days, millions of East Germans poured into the West to visit. Hundreds of thousands moved permanently to the West in the following months as more crossings were opened, and ties between long-divided communities were re-established as border controls became little more than a cursory formality. Little remains of the inner German border's fortifications. Its route has been declared part of a " European Green Belt " linking national parks and nature reserves along the course of the old Iron Curtain from the Arctic Circle to the Black Sea.
Museums and memorials along the old border commemorate the division and reunification of Germany and, in some places, preserve elements of the fortifications. The inner German border originated from plans by the Second World War Allies to divide a defeated Germany into occupation zones.
France was later given a zone in the far west of Germany, carved out of the British and American zones. Because of their unexpectedly rapid advances through central Germany in the final weeks of the war, British and American troops occupied large areas of territory that had been assigned to the Soviet zone of occupation.
The redeployment of Western troops prompted many Germans to flee to the West to escape the Soviet takeover of the remainder of the Soviet zone. In May , the three western occupation zones were merged to form the Federal Republic of Germany FRG with a freely elected government. West Germany regarded German citizenship and rights as applying equally to East and West German citizens. An East German who escaped or was released to the West was automatically granted West German rights including residence, the right to work, and EEC freedom of movement ; West German laws were deemed to be applicable in the East.
East Germans thus had a powerful incentive to move to the West, where they would enjoy greater freedom and economic prospects. In the early days of the occupation, the Allies controlled traffic between the zones to manage the flow of refugees and prevent the escape of former Nazi officials and intelligence officers. The east—west interzonal border became steadily more tense as the relationship between the Western Allies and the Soviets deteriorated.
The number of Soviet soldiers on the boundary was increased and supplemented with border guards from the newly established East German Volkspolizei "People's Police". Many unofficial crossing points were blocked with ditches and barricades. The boundary line was nonetheless still fairly easy to cross. Local inhabitants were able to maintain fields on the other side, or even to live on one side and work on the other.
Refugees were able to sneak across or bribe the guards, and the smuggling of goods in both directions was rife. Trees and brush were cut down along the border to clear lines of sight for the guards and to eliminate cover for would-be crossers.
Houses adjoining the border were torn down, bridges were closed and barbed-wire fencing was put up in many places. Farmers were permitted to work their fields along the border only in daylight hours and under the watch of armed guards, who were authorised to use weapons if their orders were not obeyed. Border communities on both sides suffered acute disruption. Farms, coal mines and even houses were split in two by the sudden closure of the border. The border between East and West Berlin was also significantly tightened, although not fully closed; East Germans were still able to cross into West Berlin, which then became the main route by which East Germans migrated to the West.
Following the completion of Berlin outer ring in , sealing off the East German border with West Berlin became more feasible, and ultimately became a reality in August of that year. East Germany decided to upgrade the fortifications in the late s to establish a "modern frontier" that would be far more difficult to cross.
Barbed-wire fences were replaced with harder-to-climb expanded metal barriers; directional anti-personnel mines and anti-vehicle ditches blocked the movement of people and vehicles; tripwires and electric signals helped guards to detect escapees; all-weather patrol roads enabled rapid access to any point along the border; and wooden guard towers were replaced with prefabricated concrete towers and observation bunkers.
Construction of the new border system started in September It led to a series of treaties and agreements in the early s, most significantly a treaty in which East and West Germany recognised each other's sovereignty and supported each other's applications for UN membership, although East Germans leaving for the West retained the right to claim a West German passport.
In , the East German leadership considered proposals to replace the expensive and intrusive fortifications with a high-technology system codenamed Grenze Drawing on technology used by the Soviet Army during the Soviet—Afghan War , it would have replaced the fences with sensors and detectors.
However, the plan was never implemented. The closure of the border had a substantial economic and social impact on both halves of Germany. The tightest level of closure came in , by which time only six railway lines, three autobahns, one regional road and two waterways were left open. When relations between the two states eased in the s, the GDR agreed to open more crossing points in exchange for economic assistance.
Telephone and mail communications operated throughout the Cold War, although packages and letters were routinely opened and telephone calls were monitored by the East German secret police. The economic impact of the border was harsh. Many towns and villages were severed from their markets and economic hinterlands, which caused areas close to the border to go into an economic and demographic decline.
The two German states responded to the problem in different ways. West Germany gave substantial subsidies to communities under the "Aid to border regions" programme, an initiative begun in to save them from total decline. Infrastructure and businesses along the border benefited from substantial state investment. East Germany's communities had a much harder time, because the country was poorer and their government imposed severe restrictions on them.
The border region was progressively depopulated through the clearance of numerous villages and the forced relocation of their inhabitants.
Border towns suffered draconian building restrictions: The GDR bore a huge economic cost for its creation of the border zone and the building and maintenance of its fortifications. The actual cost of the border system was a closely guarded secret, and even today it is uncertain exactly how much it cost to build and maintain.
The implementation of the "modern frontier" in the s led to a major increase in personnel costs. In early , East German economists calculated that each arrest cost the equivalent of 2. Tourism of the Berlin Wall reached its height in , although an exact number cannot be given for the number of visitors to the Berlin Wall, as there were no official records of tourism to the site made at the time. Estimates, however, are provided through the counting of tourists by Western and Eastern border guards.
The numbers obtained from the border guards suggest that Berlin Wall tourism was a popular outing for German people and foreigners alike, it is reported that the Berlin Wall received approximately 1. The two German governments promoted very different views of the border. Border troops interviewed in the film described what they saw as the rightfulness of their cause and the threat of Western agents, spies and provocateurs. Their colleagues killed on the border were hailed as heroes and schoolchildren in East Berlin were depicted saluting their memorial.
However, West German propaganda leaflets referred to the border as merely "the demarcation line of the Soviet occupation zone", and emphasised the cruelty and injustice of the division of Germany. Whereas East Germany kept its civilians well away from the border, West Germany actively encouraged tourism, and locations where the border was especially intrusive became tourist attractions. The Associated Press reported in that "Western tourists by the busload come out to have their pictures taken against the backdrop of the latest Communist walled city [and] the concrete blockhouse and the bunker-slits protruding from the green hillock where a collective's cows were grazing.
A viewing point, the "Window on Kella", was established on a nearby hilltop from which tourists could peer across the border with binoculars and telescopes. Visitors often sought to have a nude photograph taken below a looming East German watchtower; the West Germans noted "a lot more movement on that watchtower since the nudist beach opened". The fortifications were established in and reached a peak of complexity and lethality at the start of the s. A person attempting to make an illegal crossing of the inner German border around , travelling from east to west, would first come to the "restricted zone" Sperrzone.
This was a 5 kilometres 3. Its inhabitants could only enter and leave using special permits, were not permitted to enter other villages within the zone, and were subjected to night time curfews. The fence was lined with low-voltage electrified strands of barbed wire. When the wire was touched or cut, an alarm was activated to alert nearby guards. Nearly such watchtowers had been built by ;  each of the larger ones was equipped with a powerful 1,watt rotating searchlight Suchscheinwerfer and firing ports to enable the guards to open fire without having to go outside.
Around 1, two-man observation bunkers also stood along the length of the border. Guard dogs were used to provide an additional deterrent to escapees. The dogs were occasionally turned loose in temporary pens adjoining gates or damaged sections of the fence.
The guards used an all-weather patrol road Kolonnenweg , literally "column way" to patrol the border and travel rapidly to the scene of an attempted crossing. Next to the Kolonnenweg was one of the control strips Kontrollstreifen , a line of bare earth running parallel to the fences along almost the entire length of the border. There were two control strips, both located on the inward-facing sides of the fences.
The secondary "K2" strip, 2 metres 6. Anyone attempting to cross the control strips would leave footprints, which were quickly detected by patrols. This enabled the guards to identify otherwise undetected escape attempts, recording how many individuals had crossed, where escape attempts were being made and at which times of day escapees were active.
From this information, the guards were able to determine where and when patrols needed to be increased, where improved surveillance from watchtowers and bunkers was required, and which areas needed additional fortifications. Anti-vehicle barriers were installed on the other side of the primary control strip.
In some locations, Czech hedgehog barricades, known in German as Panzersperre or Stahligel "steel hedgehogs" , were used to prevent vehicles being used to cross the border. The outer fences were constructed in a number of phases, starting with the initial fortification of the border from May The first-generation fence was a crudely constructed single barbed-wire fence Stacheldrahtzaun which stood between 1. A "third-generation" fence, much more solidly constructed, was installed in an ongoing programme of improvements from the late s to the s.
The fence line was moved back to create an outer strip between the fence and the actual border. The barbed-wire fences were replaced with a barrier that was usually 3. It was constructed with expanded metal mesh Metallgitterzaun panels. The openings in the mesh were generally too small to provide finger-holds and were very sharp. The panels could not easily be pulled down, as they overlapped, and they could not be cut through with a bolt- or wire-cutter.
Nor could they be tunnelled under easily, as the bottom segment of the fences was partially buried in the ground. In a number of places, more lightly constructed fences Lichtsperren consisting of mesh and barbed wire lined the border. Gates were installed to enable guards to patrol up to the line and to give engineers access for maintenance on the outward-facing side of the barrier.
In some places, villages adjoining the border were fenced with wooden board fences Holzlattenzaun or concrete barrier walls Betonsperrmauern standing around 3—4 metres 9.
Windows in buildings adjoining the border were bricked or boarded up, and buildings deemed too close to the border were pulled down. Anti-personnel mines were installed along approximately half of the border's length starting in ; by the s, some 1.