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The Rise and Fall of the Berlin Wall

From US News and World Report

This article was originally published in U.S. News & World Report on Nov. 13, 2008.

Big walls are back in the news. There’s now one separating Israel from the Palestinian West Bank, justified as a way of excluding suicide bombers and terrorists from the Jewish state’s threatened cities. There’s another being built to keep illegal immigrants from Mexico out of the United States.

One thing is clear: Such controversial emergency barriers signal problems that governments can’t (or won’t) solve by other means. The notorious Berlin Wall was no different—except it was built not to shut people out but to keep them in.

Shortly before midnight on Aug. 12, 1961, thousands of East German workers, guarded by troops, began to construct concrete-block and wood barriers and barbed wire fences blocking boulevards, parks, streets, and alleys in the heart of the city of Berlin, as well as the perimeter adjoining the surrounding Communist state of East Germany. (read more)

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