10 little-known facts about the Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall was one of the symbols of the Cold War. In East Germany, it was called the “Die anti-Faschistischer Schutzwall” (“Anti-Fascist Defense Wall”). According to representatives of the USSR and the GDR, this wall was necessary to prevent the penetration of Western spies into East Berlin, and also so that residents of West Berlin did not go to East Berlin for cheap goods that were sold under state subsidies.
In West Germany, this wall was spoken of as an attempt by the Soviet Union to stop the migration of East Berliners to West Berlin. So, today few people know about the sign wall.
1. She did not divide East and West Germany
There is a common misunderstanding among people that the Berlin Wall divided East and West Germany. This is fundamentally wrong. The Berlin Wall only separated West Berlin from East Berlin and the rest of East Germany (West Berlin was located in East Germany).To understand how West Berlin ended up in East Germany, you first need to understand how Germany was divided after the war. By the end of World War II, the Allies agreed to divide Germany into four zones of influence: the United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and France.
Berlin (which was located in the zone controlled by the Soviet Union) was also divided into four sectors, distributed among the allies. Later, disagreements with the Soviet Union led to the United States, Great Britain and France joining their zones to form West Germany and West Berlin, while East Germany and East Berlin remained behind the Soviet Union.
The length of the internal border between West and East Germany was more than 1,300 kilometers, which is eight times the length of the Berlin Wall (154 kilometers). In addition, only 43 kilometers of the Berlin Wall actually separated East Berlin from West Berlin. Most of the walls separated West Berlin from the rest of East Germany.
2. In fact there were two walls.
Today, very few people will remember that the Berlin Wall was not one wall, but two parallel walls that were 100 meters apart from each other. However, the one that everyone considers to be Berlin was closer to East Berlin.Work on the construction of the first wall began on August 13, 1961, and the second wall began to be built a year later.
Between the two walls was the so-called "death strip", where any violator could be immediately shot. The buildings inside the death strip were destroyed, and the whole area was carefully leveled and covered with fine gravel to reveal the traces of any fugitives. Also, spotlights were installed on both sides of the strip at certain intervals to prevent escape at night.
3. The church, standing between two walls
Inside the "death strip", East German and Soviet authorities destroyed all buildings, with the exception of the so-called Church of Reconciliation. Parishioners could not get into it, because the church was in the restricted area. The history associated with this church is quite interesting. After the division of Berlin, the area around the church fell right on the border between the French and Soviet sectors. The church itself was located in the Soviet sector, and its members lived in the French sector. When the Berlin Wall was built, it separated the church from the flock. And when the second wall was completed, the few remaining parishioners living in the Soviet sector were also denied access to the temple.
In West Berlin, an abandoned church was promoted as a symbol of the oppression of East Berliners and East Germans by the Soviet Union. The church itself soon became a problem for the East German police, since it needed to be constantly patrolled. As a result, on January 22, 1985, it was decided to demolish it in order to “improve safety, order and cleanliness.”
4. How the wall affected the metro
Although the Berlin Wall was above ground, it touched the metro in Berlin. After the division of Berlin, the metro stations on both sides came under the control of the West and the USSR. This quickly became a problem because trains passing between two points in West Berlin sometimes had to pass through stations near East Berlin. To avoid escapes and confusion among citizens of both sides, East Berliners were forbidden to enter the stations through which western trains passed. These stations were sealed, surrounded by barbed wire and alarms. Trains from West Berlin also did not stop at the “eastern” stations. The only station in East Berlin where they stopped was Friedrichstraße, intended for West Berliners heading to East Berlin.West Berlin recognized the existence of a metro in East Berlin, but on the maps these stations were marked as “stations where trains do not stop”. In East Germany, these stations were completely removed from all maps.
5. A small “Berlin Wall” divided the village
After the division of Germany, the small river Tannbach, which flows through the village of Medlareuth, located on the border of present-day Bavaria and Thuringia, was used as the border between the zones controlled by the USA and the Soviet Union. Initially, the villagers did not understand that part of Mödlaruit was in the Federal Republic of Germany, and the other part was in the GDR, since they were free to cross the border to visit family members in another country. A wooden fence, erected in 1952, partially restricted this freedom. Then, in 1966, this freedom was restricted even more when the fence was replaced with 3-meter-high cement slabs — the same used to divide Berlin. The wall did not allow the villagers to move between the two countries, effectively dividing families. In the West, this village was called "Little Berlin". However, the plight of the villagers did not end on the wall.The authorities in East Germany also added electric barriers, after which it became difficult to even leave the village. Part of the wall is still standing today, complete with several watchtowers and posts. And the village itself remains divided between two federal lands.
6. Famous graffiti of kissing presidents
As mentioned above, the Berlin Wall consisted of two parallel walls. From the side of West Berlin, immediately after construction, they began to paint with various graffiti. However, from East Berlin, the wall continued to preserve pristine purity, since the East Germans were forbidden to approach it. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, several artists decided to paint graffiti on the eastern part of the Berlin Wall.
One of the most famous works depicts the former leader of the Soviet Union, Leonid Brezhnev, who merged in a deep kiss with the former head of East Germany, Erich Honecker. The graffiti is called “The Kiss of Death” and was written by the artist from the Soviet Union Dmitry Vrubel. Graffiti was a re-creation of the 1979 scene, when both leaders kissed in celebration of the 30th anniversary of East Germany.This “brotherly kiss” was actually a common occurrence among high-ranking officials of communist states.
7. More than 6000 dogs patrolled the death strip.
"The Strip of Death" - the space between the two parallel walls of the Berlin Wall - was called so for good reason. It was carefully guarded, including thousands of ferocious animals, called "wall dogs". German shepherds were commonly used, but other breeds could also be found, such as rottweilers and great danes. No one knows how many dogs were used. Some accounts mention the figure of 6,000, while others claim that there were up to 10,000. It is worth noting that the dogs did not roam freely in the death strip. Instead, each animal was tied to a 5-meter chain attached to a 100-meter-long cable, which allowed the dog to walk parallel to the wall. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, these dogs were wanted to be distributed to families in East and West Germany. However, Western Germans were skeptical about acquiring such animals, because the media promoted "wall dogs" as dangerous animals that could tear a person into pieces.
8. Margaret Thatcher and Francois Mitterrand wanted the wall to remain.
Initially, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and French President Francois Mitterrand did not support the destruction of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany. When the reunification talks were held at a high level, she said: "We have twice defeated the Germans, and now they are coming back again." Thatcher did everything she could to stop the process and even tried to influence the British government (which did not agree with her.) When Thatcher realized that she could not stop the reunification process, she suggested that Germany be reunited after a transition period of five years, not right away. Mitterrand was disturbed by people whom he called "bad Germans." He also feared that reunited Germany would be too influential in Europe, even more than under Adolf Hitler. When Mitterrand realized that his opposition would not stop reunification, he changed his position and began to support it. However, Mitterrand was of the opinion that Germany can only be controlled if it is part of a union of European countries, which today is known as the European Union.
9.Recently, a forgotten part of the wall was discovered
Most of the Berlin Wall was demolished in 1989. The remaining parts, which were left specially, are relics of the division of Germany. However, one part of the wall was forgotten until it was found again in 2018. The existence of the 80-meter section of the wall in Schonholz (a suburb of Berlin) was stated by the historian Christian Bormann. In a blog published on January 22, 2018, Borman said that he actually discovered this part of the wall in 1999, but decided to keep it a secret. Now he revealed its existence due to fears that the wall is in poor condition and could collapse. The hidden section of the wall is located in the bush between the railway tracks and the cemetery.
10. She still shares Germany today.
The separation of Germany and Berlin was not just the construction of the wall. It was an ideology, and its effects are still being felt today. First, West Germany was capitalist, and East Germany was communist. This in itself influenced the policies of each country. East Berlin from West Berlin can be distinguished even in a photograph from space taken by astronaut Andre Kuipers at the 2012 International Space Station.It clearly shows the former East Berlin with yellow illumination and the former West Berlin with greenish illumination. The sharp difference was the result of the use of different types of street lamps used in both countries (the light in West Germany is more environmentally friendly than in East Germany). Today in East Germany, the average wage is lower than in West Germany. Since many factories in East Germany could not compete with their Western counterparts after their reunification, they simply closed.
This led to the fact that in West Germany in most industries were forced to increase wages to attract talented workers. The consequence of this is that people looking for work in the eastern part of the country prefer to migrate to the west to find it there. Although this led to a decrease in unemployment in East Germany, it also created a “brain drain”. If it is positive, East Germany produces less waste than West Germany. This is also a consequence of the days of communism, when East Germans bought only what they absolutely needed compared to Western Germans, who were not so economical.Child care is also better in East Germany than in West Germany. East Germans also have larger farms.