Berlin Wall

The ultimate symbol of the Cold War

The Berlin Wall is one of the most impressive structures in the world, although little is left. The wall in Berlin was a symbol of the Cold War.

This war represented the extremely tense relations between the Soviet Union and America. In which even a nuclear war threatened.

The wall literally showed a division of the city into East and West, between democracy and communism. Where no contact was possible. Things have changed, you can take a nice walk along the remains.

De val van de Muur

After the Second World War, Berlin was occupied by French, English, American and Soviet troops. That’s why the country and the city were split into four. Berlin became the epicentre of the Cold War, which lead to the construction of the Berlin Wall. The extreme tensions between the Soviet Union and the US ran so high that there was even the chance of a nuclear war…

The Wall was taken down after a series of events. In the eighties the Soviet Union was experiencing a crisis, corruption was rife and after seventy years of communism, it became clear that it was not a successful way to rule. The standard of living was in decline, and people were calling for democracy.

In 1985, Gorbatsjov became the new leader. And, in the meantime, the America’s advance in technology and economy was completely superior to that of the Soviet. Gorbatsjov was keen to reduce spending on defence, and Reagan felt much the same. It would bring down taxes. They met in 1985 in Geneva, and came to an agreement to reduce the number of nuclear weapons.

The famous painting Bruderkuss (the Fraternal Kiss) on the Berlin Wall. ©Corno van den Berg

The 9th of November 1989

The day when the Wall came down was a special day. It was the 9th of November 1989 and Günter Schabowski, one of the party leaders of the DDR was giving a press conference. During his traditionally long and elaborate speech, he suddenly indicated that they had come to a decision: the border would be opened. People couldn’t believe it, and many went to the Wall to see if something was happening, making the guards feel on edge. Just before midnight, the gates were opened.

Visiting the Berlin Wall

It’s almost compulsory to visit the Berlin Wall. Or the parts of it that remain. There are several locations where you can take a tour and learn more about the Wall, its history, and how people lived with this border running straight through their city. You can visit the northern, central and southern parts of the Wall. In the central part you can see one of the guardhouses that were used to shoot down from in case of border breaches.

You can also make up your own tour, starting for example at the East Side Gallery, near the Ostbahnhof (station) where you can find a large part of the Wall still standing. Then move on the smaller part of the wall at the Postdamer Platz, and finishing off at Checkpoint Charlie, with its famous guardhouse and lines on the road where the wall used to be, is a must.

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