Facts: About The Berlin Wall

Do you know exactly where the Berlin Wall ran, its length or how long it took to build? Here are the 5 most common questions about the Berlin Wall answered!

The Berlin Wall, probably the best-known symbol of the division of a nation into an east and west area, existed for 28 long years, and many lost their lives trying to cross the border.

WHO BUILT THE BERLIN WALL? - The border fortification system was built in August 1961 by the East German Government. The SED party ruling in East Germany decided to construct the wall. By constructing the Berlin Wall, East German citizens were prevented from leaving the country.

HOW LONG DID IT TAKE TO BUILD THE BERLIN WALL? - Construction of the wall began on August 13, 1961. Border police officers from the Eastern Zone put the first stones of the building on top of each other after the party leader and chairman of the GDR State Council, Walter Ulbricht, had previously received the order to seal off the sector border in Moscow. It took just a few days to create the border: at the start of the construction process, the eastern part of Berlin was sealed off with concrete piles and barricades. The entire border line in Berlin was completed on August 18. The residents of Berlin could no longer stay in the city as usual, but had to accept the Berlin Wall as a new barrier in their city. For millions of people from East Berlin, this meant a major cut in their freedom. Shortly before the "Iron Curtain" was closed, many people fled to the western sector of the city every last second.

The wall we know was the result of a long expansion process. We present the most important stations:
The first stage of wall construction was carried out from 1961 to 1968. In these years, the wall, which up to now had largely been made of barbed wire, was transformed into a concrete structure. In Berlin and the surrounding area, the barrier systems had grown to around 130 kilometers. Up to this point the concrete wall had a length of approx. 15 kilometers. The remaining “wall-free” areas were supplemented by wire fences during this period.
Subsequently, the second stage of completion stretched from 1968/69 to 1980. During this time the wall became the so-called “border wall”. A safety zone was created in front of the concrete wall in very busy places, for example in Kreuzberg. As a result, the exclusion zone now began about 50 to 70 meters before the actual Berlin Wall. The first structural obstacle to this extended border system was the hinterland wall. This formed the beginning of the border system in the GDR. Refugees from East Berlin first had to cross this barrier to get entry to the border facility.

Finally, the third phase began in 1981 and ended in 1989. During this time, as few refugees as possible should be harmed. At that time, the GDR used modern technology such as sensors and electronics to prevent GDR citizens from attempting to escape without having to use the firing order on the wall.

HOW HIGH WAS THE BERLIN WALL? The Berlin Wall was not the same height in every place and it did not look the same everywhere. The only thing in common: It was an interconnected border facility that enclosed West Berlin for a total length of approximately 155 kilometers. The concrete wall, probably the best-known symbol of the building, was between 3.50 and 4 meters high. The upper pipe support of the border fortification should prevent refugees from crossing. Because the border was made of different materials, not every section was exactly the same height. For example, there were also places where simple metal fences were used, for example on the border to today's Brandenburg. Depending on the nature of the site and the location, there were different variants.

The width of the border fortification depended on the buildings in the border area. The building in Berlin Mitte was designed differently than the one between Charlottenburg and Brandenburg. At Potsdamer Platz, for example, the border fortifications were up to 500 meters wide and made of concrete, including death strips, watchtowers and a hinterland wall. In contrast, the border was not as wide at heavily built-up or hard-to-reach places: around 30 meters.

HOW LONG WAS THE BERLIN WALL? The entire border within Germany had a length of about 1400 kilometers. The part of the wall that separated West Berlin from East Berlin was about 155 kilometers long. Of these, approx. 43 kilometers ran straight through the middle of Berlin.

WHERE EXACTLY DID THE BERLIN WALL RUN? The Berlin Wall divided the metropolis of Berlin into two halves. Many districts of the city were also separated. The border line started between Reinickendorf and Pankow. The building also ran between Wedding and Prenzlauer-Berg, Tiergarten and Mitte, Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain and finally between Neukölln and Treptow.

In addition, the border separated waterways for about 24 kilometers, for example the Spree. On average, the building divided around 97 streets in Berlin, such as Invalidenstraße, and 95 streets in the surrounding area. Four lines of the urban subway, for example today's U2, and eight S-Bahn lines were also separated from one another, as were three motorways, including the Federal Highway 111.

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