8. MAI 1945 World War II in Europe ends. The Allied Powers agree to meet in Potsdam, Germany. Winston Churchill Harry Truman Joseph Stalin England USA Russia
JULI - AUGUST 1945 The Allied Powers split Germany into four occupation zones, and its capital Berlin into four sectors. British Russian French American Berlin is also divided up
24. JUNI 1948 The Soviets blockade all traffic to West Berlin in an effort to force out the Western Allies. This was one of the first major international crises of the Cold War.
The Americans wanted to fly in supplies to Berlin. During the 11 months of the Soviet blockade, the American Air Force and British Royal Air Force combined to fly 277,569 missions over Berlin dropping a total of 2,325,570 tons of food, fuel, and supplies. The success of the Airlift became humiliating to the Soviets.
MAI 1949 The USA, France, and England merge their zones and the Federal Republic of Germany (Bundesrepublik Deutschland… BRD) is formed. AKA West Germany OCTOBER 1949 The Soviet zone takes on the name The German Democratic Republic (Deutsche Demokratische Republik… DDR) AKA East Germany
Throughout the 1950s, West Germany prospered and became known as 'the economic miracle‘ (Wirtschaftswunder). There was a distinct difference in the living conditions of those in West Germany versus those in East Germany.
East Germans became dissatisfied. Their economy dragged and their freedoms were severely restricted. They did not have the freedom to travel. They did not have freedom of speech. They did not have the freedom to choose their career.
Many fled to the West via West Berlin. They could easily enter West Berlin and were then generally taken to other parts of West Germany to settle and start a new life.
By 1961 East Germany had lost 2.7 million people. This population drain - mostly of young, educated people, the workforce of the nation (aka the “brain drain”)- had to be stopped. The East German communist government was desperate to keep the people from fleeing, and so they built a wall to keep people in.
Sonntag, 13. AUGUST 1961 : just after midnight, trucks rolled in and started laying out barbed wire along the border between East and West Berlin. The East Berliners awoke to find a wall already in place with armed guards.
East German border guard Conrad Schumann, 19 years old, leaped over the barbed wire into the French sector on Aug. 15th.
22 AUGUST 1961: The Wall claims its first of several hundred victims, when Ida Siekman falls to her death while trying to escape to the West by jumping out of her appartment at Bernauer Strasse. The exact number of Wall victims remains unknown.
26 JUNI 1963 (2 years later) JFK goes to Berlin and makes his famous 'Ich bin ein Berliner‘ speech. JFK Mayor Willy Brandt Chancellor Konrad Adenauer
12 JUNI 1987 President Reagan visits Berlin and asks Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall." President Reagan Chancellor Helmut Kohl
The wall became a political canvas for West Berliners, who were able to graffiti their side. Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev kissing his East German counterpart Erich Honecker No-Mans Land of the East
4. NOVEMBER 1989 A million people attend a pro-democracy demonstration in East Berlin's main square. Within days, the East German government resigns.
9. NOVEMBER 1989 The Berlin Wall is opened up for East Berliners to freely cross over to West Berlin.
West and East Germans alike celebrated throughout the night.
A crane lifts out a section of the wall to make a new border corssing.
Crowds of East Berliners flooded into the West. New maps of West Berlin were printed to help them find their way, soup kitchens were set up on the streets and fresh fruit sold out in stores – the price of bananas rose by 10%!
3. OKTOBER 1990 East and West Germany are reunified. The name of the country is the Federal Republic of Germany - die Bundesrepublik Deutschland. The capital is once again Berlin.
Nowadays … most of the wall has been torn down or sold or donated around the world, but there is a long section of the wall still intact, nicknamed the “East Side Gallery,” as artists from around the world came to paint the formerly blank “east side” of the wall. Checkpoint Charlie is now a museum dedicated to those who died attempting to flee to the west.
A similar story… After WWII Korea was also divided into 2 countries – the north administered by the Soviet Union, and the south by the USA. The countries are still at odds and often in the media, although reunification remains a long-term goal for both sides.