Why Was the Berlin Wall Built During the Cold War

The construction of the Berlin Wall began on 13 August, 1961. World War 2 left Germany in a state of desecration and chaos. With the threat of a second World Depression, Germany was a country going through a period of deep crisis. After the overthrow of the Nazi regime, the 4 allied countries signed what was called “The Potsdam Agreement” which marked new borders for Germany. Berlin was divided into two parts: West Berlin (belonging to France, Great Britain and the USA) and East Berlin (known as the Russian sector). The military, police and the home guard of the city blocked the line of demarcation between East and West Berlin with barbed wire, which marked the beginning of the Berlin Wall.

The Brain Drain

The first major reason for this drastic step of separation was the large-scale departure of educated people from the East. Struggling to meet their basic needs, many sought employment in the west where living conditions were considerably better. This mass movement of educated people from 1954-1960 was given the name “brain drain”. As East Berlin was rapidly losing the most skilled sector of its labor force, the Berlin Wall was a way of preventing people leaving.

The Spy Center of Europe

The second pivotal reason for the construction of the Berlin wall was of a political nature. With the cold war in progress, the Western countries used Berlin as a means of spying on the Russian sector. There were around 80 spy centers and similar political organizations operating in Berlin in 1960. This situation created an era of spies, diplomatic negotiations and controversies, with an air of a growing nuclear war threat.  Berlin was caught in the middle of the struggle between superpowers. The Berlin Wall is in many ways seen as a symbol of the cold war. Its future was a key factor in the outcome of the cold war.

The End of the Berlin Wall

The Wall proved an efficient method of people control having served as a border for 28 years. After the barbed wire was set on the 13th, the building of the actual concrete wall began on the 15th. It was finished in1968 and it extended over 96 miles. The concrete areas were originally 13 meters high. The political climate finally began to change, and peace treaties were being made between different countries. The border between East and West Berlin was finally opened on June 13, 1990. This was recognized as a symbol of the end of the cold war.

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