In the years following World War II, we all know that Germany was divided in two – the Soviet controlled East and the British, French, American West. Now i want you to do me favor: show your friends this map of divided Germany and ask them to point where they think Berlin is:
I guarantee that most of them will point Berlin somewhere on the dividing, yellow line:
And it makes sense, right? Since Berlin was divided in two with the Berlin wall it had to be along the dividing line between East and West. (the article continues after the ad)
Berlin was deep into East Germany:
Mind-blowing, i know.
So, what’s the story here? Why is Berlin in East Germany and why was there a West-controlled Berlin if it’s after all, in East Germany? Well, let’s find out. (the article continues after the ad)
A BIT OF HISTORY
At the end of World War II, the Western allies entered Germany from the West and the Soviets from the East. But Berlin was the capital, the center of the Nazi regime and too important to be left only for one of the big powers. So, when the three major allied powers (Americans, Soviets and British) discussed plans for diving up a defeated Germany at the Yalta conference (1945), Roosevelt offered Stalin half of Berlin.
And therefore, Berlin was divided in two: Soviets controlled the East whilst the West was split between the American, British and French zones of occupation.
THE BERLIN WALL
When East Berlin authorities realized that people started fleeing to West Berlin, they decided to seal off the access between the two zones. In just one night, the night between August 12-13, 1961, soldiers began laying barbed wire which was soon replaced with a 96-mile (154km) wall of concrete blocks, searchlights, guard towers and machine gun posts.
SO WHY DIDN’T GERMANS JUST GO AROUND THE WALL?
We now come to the main question of this article – why didn’t Berliners just go around? Well, because this wall wasn’t just separating West Berlin from East Berlin – only 27 miles (43km) did so. The remaining 69 miles (111km) of wall separated West Berlin from the surrounding East German countryside. The Berlin wall literally encircled and sealed off ALL of West Berlin:
So you couldn’t just walk around as there wasn’t a starting point and a finishing point; it was a circle that went all around West Berlin. Between Easterners and the other side, lay a 900ft (275m) minefield, a 1,640ft (500m) wide so called “death strip” with watchtowers, guard dogs, anti-vehicle trenches and trip-wire machine guns.
West Berlin was basically a prison. Hungarian-Austrain composer György Ligeti called it, “a surrealist cage in which those inside are free.” Ironic, huh?
If you like what you read, then you will definitely love this one: Why The Axis Powers Were Called The ‘Axis Powers’?
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Sources: Berlin is divided | The construction of the Berlin Wall | How long was the Berlin Wall? | Why Didn’t Germans Just Go Around the Berlin Wall? | How long did it take to build the Berlin Wall?