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The Rise and Fall of the Berlin Wall

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)

10 MORE Great Escapes Across The Berlin Wall

10 MORE Great Escapes Across The Berlin Wall

From LISTVERSE

 

After World War II, an estimated 2.5 million East Germans fled to West Germany. East Germany had lost a sixth of its population, and the government wanted to stop their people from leaving. They closed the border between the countries and erected the Berlin Wall.Soldiers patrolled the barrier, and they were ordered to shoot anyone who tried to escape. The Wall was largely effective, although many people still risked death or imprisonment trying to escape. The following people each made extraordinarily brave escapes over, under, around, or through the Berlin Wall. (read more)

The Surprising Human Factors Behind the Fall of the Berlin Wall

The Surprising Human Factors Behind the Fall of the Berlin Wall

From History.com

 

Great events do not always have great causes. One of history’s biggest surprises is how sometimes a series of small, seemingly insignificant events can suddenly add up to momentous change.

That’s how it happened with the fall of the Berlin Wall, the point-of-no-return moment in the collapse of the Cold War order. While there were broader historical forces at play, the Wall, a powerful symbol that had separated communist East Berlin from the democratic West for 28 years, would not have opened when and how it did without the last-minute decisions of a secret police officer named Harald Jäger. Struggling with the fear that he was dying of cancer, and angry over insults from higher-ups, he disobeyed direct orders and started letting East Germans through the gate. (read more)