Following WWII, the Allies divided Berlin and Germany. The eastern part was governed by Communists, while the rest was democratic. East Germans immediately fled to West Germany in droves – 3.5 million in 16 years. To stem this exodus, the Communists built a 12 foot high concrete barrier with barb wire at the top that spanned all of Berlin.
The wall worked. After its construction in 1961, an estimated 100,000 people attempted to escape. Only 5,000 were successful, while more than 100 were gunned down. The 27 mile portion of the Berlin Wall that divides the city into East and West Berlin was made up of two walls separated by an area known as the “Death Strip.”
The East German General Secretary, Erich Honecker famously said “The Wall will be standing in 50 and even 100 years, if the reasons for it are not removed.” U.S. President Ronald Regan shared his opinion with the would on June of 1987 when he stood in front of the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin and said “…Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”
On November 9th, 1989, the Wall was torn down, citizens joyfully celebrated the end of this symbol of oppression.
The section of the Berlin wall currently on display in the Cold War exhibit is from the Pottsdammer Platz section.