Highlights on the Berlin Wall | CNN


Here is some general information about the Berlin Wall, which encircled West Berlin from 1961 to 1989, in an effort to prevent East Germans from fleeing to the West. It became a symbol of East/West relations during the Cold War.

The Berlin Wall began as a border of barbed wire fences and evolved into a fortified concrete barrier with armed East German border guards.

East Germany has militarized the entire border with the West, laying over a million landmines and deploying around 3,000 attack dogs.

The wall between East and West Berlin was nearly 12 feet high and about 27 miles long, with 302 guard towers and 55,000 antipersonnel explosive devices (landmines).

To prevent attempts to scale the wall or escape by digging underneath, the wall was reinforced with barbed wire, spikes, metal gratings, bunkers, and vehicles turned into obstacles.

A large area of ​​dirt and sand, a buffer zone between the two walls, became known as “no man’s land” or the “strip of death”, where guards in watchtowers could shoot anyone was trying to escape.

On the frontier lands, at least 140 people died either by gunshot, or by fatal accident while trying to flee, or by suicide.

The most famous border crossing was known as Checkpoint Charlie.

February 4-11, 1945 – In the face of Germany’s defeat in The Second World War, the Yalta Conference of the Allies agrees to divide Germany into four zones of occupation: Britain, France and the United States occupy the western, northwestern and southern parts, and the Soviet Union occupies the is. Berlin, located in Soviet territory, is also divided into eastern and western zones.

1949 – The areas occupied by Britain, France and the United States became West Germany (formerly known as the Federal Republic of Germany). The Soviet zone becomes East Germany (formerly known as the German Democratic Republic). West Germany is a democratic republic. East Germany is a communist country aligned with the Soviet Union.

1949-1961 – More than 2.7 million East Germans fled to the West. Foreign citizens, West Germans, West Berliners and Allied military personnel are allowed to enter East Berlin, but East Berliners need a special pass to exit.

August 12, 1961 – The leader of the East German Communist Party, Walter Ulbricht, signs the order for a barricade separating East and West Berlin.

August 13, 1961 – East German security force chief Erich Honecker orders police and troops to erect a barbed wire fence and begin construction of concrete barricades.

August 18, 1961 – US Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson and retired General Lucius Clay fly to Berlin as a sign of US support for West Germany.

August 20, 1961 – The United States sends a task force of 1,500 troops to Berlin as tensions rise along the border.

August 23, 1961 – West Berliners without a permit are not allowed to enter East Berlin.

June 26, 1963 – US President John F. Kennedy addresses a crowd in West Berlin at the Rathaus Schöneberg (City Hall) on Rudolph Wilde Platz: “Today in the world of freedom the proudest pride is” Ich bin ein Berliner” (“I am a Berliner”) all free men, wherever they live, are citizens of Berlin. And so, as a free man, I am proud of the words “Ich bin ein Berliner” .

September 12-13, 1964 – Martin Luther King jr. travels to Berlin at the invitation of the mayor of West Berlin, Willy Brandt. King delivers a sermon from both sides of the wall titled “East and West – Children of God.”

September 3, 1971 – Talks between the United States, Britain, France and the Soviet Union resulted in the Four Power Agreement on Berlin, an executive order aimed at improving conditions for West Berliners and facilitating travel to and from West Germany and West Berlin, as well as the movement of West Berliners to the East. It also normalizes Berlin’s status as a divided city.

December 21, 1972 – West Germany and East Germany sign the Basic Treaty, which normalizes diplomatic relations and recognizes each other’s sovereignty.

June 12, 1987 – In a speech at the Brandenburg Gate, US President Ronald Reagan challenges General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachevleader of the USSR, to “tear down this wall!

April 1989 – GDR border guards are instructed to stop “using firearms to prevent border violations”.

October 18, 1989 – Communist Party leader Honecker is ousted and replaced by Egon Krenz.

November 2, 1989 – Krenz announces vast political and economic reforms.

November 4, 1989 – More than half a million people take part in a pro-freedom rally in East Berlin, demanding free elections.

November 6, 1989 – A draft law is passed giving all citizens travel and emigration rights, with restrictions. Travel time is still limited and authorities can arbitrarily deny permission to travel.

November 7, 1989 – The East German cabinet resigns. Nearly half of the Politburo members are removed from their posts and replaced the next day.

November 9, 1989 – East Germany lifts travel restrictions to the West. Guenter Schabowski, a member of the Politburo, announces that East German citizens can “leave the country through the East German border crossing points”, with immediate effect.

November 9-10, 1989 – Cheering crowds are tearing down the wall piece by piece using their hands, pickaxes, maces and shovels.

November 10-11, 1989 – Several new crossing points are open. Tens of thousands of people cross into West Berlin.

October 3, 1990 – East Germany and West Germany are officially reunited as the Federal Republic of Germany.

August 14, 2018 – A member of the Berlin council announces that a a previously unknown section of the wall was recently discovered in a residential section of the city. The wall was covered with overgrown bushes, which is why it had remained hidden for so long.