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Basic Facts (at the time of July 31, 1989)

Total border lenght around West Berlin: 96 mi / 155 km

Border between East and West Berlin: 27 mi / 43.1 km

Border between West Berlin and East Germany: 69 mi / 111.9 km

Border through residential areas in Berlin: 23 mi / 37 km

Concrete segment wall: 3.6m (11.81 ft.) high, 66 mi / 106 km

Wire mesh fencing: 41 mi / 66.5 km

Anti-vehicle trenches: 65 mi / 105.5 km

Contact or signal fence: 79 mi / 127.5 km

Column track: 6-7 m (7.33 yd) wide, 77 mi / 124.3 km

Number of watch towers: 302

Number of bunkers: 20

Persons killed on the Berlin Wall: 192

Persons injured by shooting: ca. 200

The Wall, Press and Information Office of Land Berlin 2000/2001
Bilanz der Todesopfer, Checkpoint Charlie Museum, 1999
Die Berliner Mauer, Flemming/Koch, 1999
Die Grenze, Lapp/Ritter,1999

Berlin Wall History: Facts

The Berlin Wall was erected in the night of August 13, 1961.
It was a weekend and most Berliners slept while the East German government begun to close the border. In
the early morning of that Sunday most of the first work was done: the border to West Berlin was closed. The
East German troups had begun to tear up streets and to install barbed wire entanglement and fences through

The first concrete elements and large square blocks were used first on August 15, 1961. Within the next
months the first generation of the Berlin Wall was build up: a wall consisting of concrete elements and square

A second Wall was build in June 1962 in order to prevent from escaping to the West.
The first Wall was improved during the next years and it's difficult to distinguish between the first and the
second generation of the Wall.

These two first generations were removed by the third generation beginning about 1965. The third generation
of Wall consisted of concrete slabs between steel girder and concrete posts with a concrete sewage pipe on
top of the Wall.

From the year 1975 the third generation of Wall was replaced by the fourth generation. New concrete
segements were used which were easy to build up and were more resistant to breakthroughs and to
environmental polutions.

System of Berlin Wall

The system of the Berlin Wall at the end of the 70s

From right to left:

1 - East Berlin
2 - Border area
3 - Backland Wall
4 - Signal fence
5 - Different kind of barriers
6 - Watch towers
7 - Lighting system
8 - Column track
9 - Control track
10 - Anti-vehicle trenches
11 - Last Wall, known as the "Wall"
12 - Border
13 - West Berlin

The whole border area was on the territory of East Berlin/East Germany. The border between East and West
Berlin was after the last Wall. This last Wall is known as the Berlin Wall. However, the Berlin Wall was a
complex system of walls, fences, watchtowers and barrieres The area between the Backland Wall (3) and the
Last Wall (11) was the so-called death strip.
The document is an original document of the East German border troops.
I only added the numbers and West/East Berlin into the document.
Thanks to Hagen Koch for the copy of the this document.

From the year 1975 the third generation of Berlin Wall was replaced by the fourth
generation. New concrete segments were used which were easy to build up and more
May 8, 1945
resistant to breakthroughs and to World
War II ispolutions.
over and Berlin is divided into 4 sectors:
This kind of Berlin Wall was alsothe American,
called British,75"
"Grenzmauer French in the
(Border West
Wall and
Fourth Generation of Berlin Wall the Soviet in the East
June 30, 1946 At the instigation of the Soviet Military administration the
demarcation line between East and West Germany is
October 29, 1946 A 30 day valid Interzonenpass is required to travel
between the sectors in Germany
June 23, 1948 Currency reform in Berlin, Berlin is divided into two
different currency zones
June 24, 1948 Begin of the Berlin blockade
June 25, 1948 Berlin Airlift begins
May 12, 1949 End of Berlin blockade
Segment of the fourth generation of Berlin Wall
May 24, 1949 Federal Republic of Germany is founded
Official name: Stützwandelement UL 12.11
(West Germany)
Height: (without
September tube)
30, 1949 360cm
End of Berlin / 11.81 ft.
October 7, 1949 120 cm / Republic
German Democratic 3.937 ft. is founded
(East Germany)
Weight: (without tube) 2750 kg / 433.07 st.
May 26, 1952 Border between East and West Germany and between
Selling price: East Germany 359and
Mark each
West segment
Berlin is closed. Only the border
(East German Mark)
between East and West Berlin is still opened
June 17, 1953 Uprising of About 45 000
East Berlin pieces workers
building were used in Berlin.
against the
Total purchase price:
imposition of increased working norms, suppression by
16 Million Mark (16 155 000 Mark)
Red Army tanks
Price of one bread: 1.04 Mark
November 14, 1953 The Western Powers waive the Interzonenpass, the Soviet
Union followsBerlin WallGerman
but East Timelinecitizen need a permission
to travel to the West
December 11, 1957 Leaving East Germany without permission is forbidden
and violations are prosecuted with prison up to three years
August 13, 1961 The Berlin sectorial border between East and West Berlin
is closed, barriers are built
August 14, 1961 Brandenburg Gate is closed
August 26, 1961 All crossing points are closed for West Berlin citizens
June 26, 1963 President J. F. Kennedy visits Berlin and says: "Ich bin
ein Berliner." ("I am a Berliner.")
December 17, 1963 West Berliner citizen may visit East Berlin the first time
after more than two years
September 3, 1971 Four Power's Agreement over Berlin
visiting becomes easier for West Berliners
June 12, 1987 President Ronald Reagan visits Berlin and urges Soviet
leader Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall.
September 10, 1989 Hungarian government opens border for East German
November 9, 1989 Berlin Wall is opened
December 22, 1989 Brandenburg Gate is opened
October 3, 1990 Germany is reunited

Why the Berlin Wall was built up

Until 1961 East German citizen were allowed to travel to West Berlin.
Travelling to West Germany became difficult after closing the border
between East and West Germany in 1952.
The Wall was erected in 1961 because more than 2.6 million East
Germans escaped to West Berlin or West Germany from 1949 to 1961
(total population of East Germany was about 17 million!).

The life in the West was much better than in the East after 1948. West
Germany including West Berlin had got financial help through the
Marshallplan from the USA. In East Germany a communist system was
established and many people had to suffer under repressions of the Communist party.

In May 1952 the open border (Zonengrenze) between East and West Germany was closed by the East German
In the years after 1952 it became more difficult and dangerous to escape to the West over this border.
However, the sectorial borders between East and West Berlin were not closed. Many East German citizen
went to East Berlin and from there to West Berlin. Once arrived in West Berlin they stayed there or were fled
out to West Germany.

East Germany lost too many skilled workers in these years.

Another big problem were the two currencies in Germany and especially in Berlin. West German DM had
been exchanged into East German DM at a rate of 1:4 (1 DM West = 4 DM Ost) in West Berlin.
People with West German DM could get goods very cheaply in the Eastern part of Berlin.

The East German government saw no other way to prevent from escaping to the West via Berlin than closing
the border between East and West Berlin on August 13, 1961.

Berlin Wall History: Escape Attempts to the West

In 1946, one year after the end of the World War II the Soviet Military administration begun to safeguard the
demarcation lines of the Soviet sectors to the West.

Traveling between all sectors of Germany was restricted and an "Interzonenpass" (Inter-zone passport) was
required to travel from one sector to another. The Interzonenpass was 30 days valid and travellers had to
apply for that pass at the authorities which could refuse the application. Crossing the border between East and
West Germany without permission was possible but became more and more dangerous.
Thousands of East German citizen had escaped to the West over the borders between East and West
Germany, East Germany and Berlin and within Berlin.

On May 26, 1952 the East German government decided to close the border and to build up a frontier area
between East and West Germany and between West Berlin and East Germany.
After May 26, 1952 there was only one quite safe way to escape to the West: Berlin.
Although many border crossing points were closed in Berlin and controls at the border happened, it was quite
easy to leave the Eastern sector of Berlin to the Western sector. Many East German citizen went to Berlin,
bought a S-Bahn (suburban train) or U-Bahn (subway) ticket and left East Berlin.

On August 13, 1961 the East German government decided to close the 'last gap' in the border to West Berlin
and the Berlin Wall was build up.
East German citizen were not allowed to leave the country without permission.
However, during the first days many people could escape through the border but day by day it became more
At the beginning people tried to climb over the Wall or the fences, they jumped out of the houses which were
in the border area or tunnels were build to escape. During the first days several people lost their live or were
killed by the Eastern border guard .
Günter Litwin was the first victim who was shot down by East German border guard in Berlin on August 24,
171 people were killed or died attempting to escape at the Berlin Wall between August 13, 1961 and
November 9, 1989.

Berlin Wall History: Checkpoint Charlie

Ten days after closing the border on August 13, 1961 tourists from abroad, diplomats and the military
personnel of the Western Powers were only allowed to enter East Berlin via the crossing point at Berlin
Soon the US military police opened the third checkpoint at Friedrichstrasse. The other two checkpoints were
Helmstedt at the West German-East German border and Dreilinden at the West Berlin and East Germany
border. Based on the phonetic alphabet the Helmstedt checkpoint was called Alpha, Dreilinden Checkpoint
Bravo and the checkpoint at Friedrichstrasse got the name Charlie.

The main function of the checkpoint was to register and inform members of the Western Military Forces
before entering East Berlin. Foreign tourists were also informed but not checked in the West.
The German authorities in West and East Berlin were not allowed to check any members of the Allied
Military Forces in Berlin and in Germany.

Checkpoint Charlie was removed on June 22, 1990. The former Allied guardhouses are
now located in the
Allied Museum.
A copy of the American guardhouse was errected on the original place on August 13,

The East German watch tower at Checkpoint Charlie was demolished by the property
owner Checkpoint Charlie Service Company on December 9, 2000.

A 140 meter long section of the Berlin Wall was

re-erected by the museum on October 31, 2004 and nearby, a field of 1,065 crosses
represents all victims of the East German border system.

Berlin Wall History: Bernauer Strasse

It is one of these typical streets which separates two Berlin's districts:

Mitte in the East and Wedding in the West. After World War II Mitte
became part of the Soviet sector and Wedding of the French sector.
Signs marked the sector border but nobody didn't take care of these
signs. People could move from one part of the street to the other.
The separation of the city and its streets begun in the early morning of
August 13, 1961. East German army and police blocked the streets and
houses in the streets and begun to built a wall. From that moment
nobody could cross the street. It became unpossible to meet friends, neighbours or relatives who lived on the
other site of the street.
In the Bernauer Strasse, district Mitte, the houses' walls were the border to the West and people jumped out of
their flats into the West in the first days. But soon the windows were walled up and occupants had to leave
their flats. Years later the houses were pulled down.
Today empty areas lend the Eastern part of the street its character.
The empty area is seen on the photograph. Until the mid 60s houses were on this area but were demolished in
order to get a manageable border area.

Berlin Wall History: Potsdamer Platz

Berlin's life is pulsating at Potsdamer Platz. Every day thousands of

tourists and Berliners visit this area to view the changing and growing
of a new city part in the center of Berlin. Cinemas, shops, galeries and
restaurants invite consumers to stay here.
However, for more than 28 years the place was dead land in the citie's
heart and at night the lamps of the Berlin Wall enlighted the Potsdamer
Platz area to prevent East German citizen from escaping to West
After opening the border in 1989 the wall was very quickly demolished and only some segments of the
backland wall and a watchtower survived.
In 1999, ten years later, the Berlin government demolished most part of the remaining Wall at Potsdamer
The Fall of the Berlin Wall

The fall of the Berlin Wall had begun with the building of the Wall in
However it took about three decades until the Wall was torn down.
Several times people in the Communist countries rised up against the
Communist system but they failed.
The victims of the uprisings against the Communist dictatorship in
Berlin 1953, Budapest 1956 or Prague 1968 will never been forgotten.
In 1989 the first free labor union was founded in the communist Poland.
The end of the communist system had begun.
The Soviet Union could control their satellites yet but with the new
leader Gorbatshov their politics changed in 1984.
Gorbatshov's reforms, Perestroika and Glasnost should renew the stalinistic system in the Soviet Union but
not replace the communist system.
The reforms in the Soviet Union also had its effects on the other communist countries, especially in Poland
and Hungary.
On August 23, 1989 Hungary opened the iron curtain to Austria.
Months before East German tourists used their chance to escape to Austria from Hungary and in September
1989 more than 13 000 East German escaped via Hungary within three days. It was the first mass exodus of
East Germans after the erection of the Berlin Wall in 1961.
Mass demonstrations against the government and the system in East Germany begun at the end of September
and took until November 1989.
Erich Honecker, East Germany's head of state, had to resign on October 18, 1989.
The new governement prepared a new law to lift the travel restrictions for East German citizen.
At 06.53 pm on November 9, 1989 a member of the new East German government was asked at a press
conference when the new East German travel law comes into force.
He answered: "Well, as far as I can see, ... straightaway, immediately."
Thousands of East Berliners went to the border crossings. At Bornholmer Strasse the people demanded to
open the border and at 10.30 pm the border was opened there.
That moment meant the end of the Berlin Wall.
Soon other border crossing points opened the gates to the West
In that night the deadly border was opened by East Germans peacefully.