When Did The Berlin Wall Fall?

September 27, 2019 | Jamie Hayes

When Did The Berlin Wall Fall?

Nothing symbolized the Cold War more than the Berlin Wall, a physical divide between East and West. But how did it come to be? When did the Berlin Wall go up? And, more importantly: When did the Berlin Wall fall?

Birth of a Wall

The birth of the Berlin Wall began nearly two decades before its construction. After the Second World War, Germany was split into four zones, each occupied by a different Allied power: the US, Great Britain, France, and the USSR. Along the same lines, the capital of Berlin was split between the four nations.

However, one of these powers was not like the other. The Capitalist Western nations found themselves at odds with the Communist Soviets, and tensions began rising almost immediately. They came to a head when the French, English, and American territories came together to form the Federal Republic of Germany (FDG), better known as West Germany, in 1949.

Almost immediately after, the Soviets responded by forming the German Democratic Republic (GDR): East Germany. At first, the occupying powers intended this split to be temporary—but the ideological divide between East and West was not so easy to put aside.

When Did The Berlin Wall Fall?Flickr

A City Divided

Within three years, East Germany completely closed the border to West Germany—but there was still one hitch: Berlin. Though the city was entirely within East German borders, its western half was still under the control of the FDG.

It wasn’t long before the difference between East and West, in both Berlin and the nation as a whole, became stark. Britain, France, and the US pumped money into West Germany and set up a capitalist society that began to recover from WWII remarkably fast.

Meanwhile, the Soviets treated East Germany as a spoil of war, pilfering the region of assets and enforcing an authoritarian Communist society.

We Want Out

Unsurprisingly, East German citizens were not happy with the new system—especially when they saw how their Western neighbors thrived. They started a massive exodus out of East Germany. It’s believed that between 1949 and 1961, nearly three million people fled the country.

As if things weren’t bad enough in East Germany, the government realized it was losing its workforce. It needed to do something to keep its citizens in place. Despite Walter Ulbricht, the country’s leader, uttering the infamous words “No one intends to build a wall” in June 1961, that’s exactly what happened.

Stopping the Flood

Mere months later, on August 12, 1961, East German soldiers began tearing up the streets that connected East and West Berlin in the dead of night. At first, they built concrete poles and strung barbed wire between them. They cut phone lines and blocked the railroads. In just one night, East and West were divided.

Eventually, not one, but two formidable concrete walls cut Berlin in half. The narrow alley of land between them became known as the "death strip," as East German soldiers had orders to shoot anyone attempting to cross the barrier.

But life in East Germany did not get much better after the Exodus ended, and many citizens still attempted to flee to the West. Over its history, East German soldiers killed more than 100 people trying to get across the Berlin Wall.

When Did The Berlin Wall Fall?National Guard

Tear Down This Wall

For nearly four decades, the 155km Berlin Wall loomed over the city—but its end was as sudden as its beginning. As the years passed, the USSR distanced itself from East Germany, and civil unrest in the country led to increased pressure to loosen the brutal restrictions placed on its citizens.

Then suddenly, on November 9, 1989, an East German spokesman announced that East German citizens could enter West Germany.

People were in shock.

When Did the Berlin Wall Fall?

Though the East German government initially intended there to be restrictions on travel, the Western media reported that the border was open. Citizens on both sides approached the Berlin Wall in disbelief.

When Did The Berlin Wall Fall?D.O.D.

They tentatively approached the border and found no resistance from guards. Immediately, jubilation took over. East and West Germans came together and embraced; citizens from both sides pored all over the failing structure and the streets filled with cheering, singing, and crying.

The Berlin Wall stood as a symbol of oppression and division for decades—and it only took an instant for it to fall.

Sources: 1, 2

More from Factinate

Featured Article

My mom never told me how her best friend died. Years later, I was using her phone when I made an utterly chilling discovery.

Dark Family Secrets

Dark Family Secrets Exposed

Nothing stays hidden forever—and these dark family secrets are proof that when the truth comes out, it can range from devastating to utterly chilling.
April 8, 2020 Samantha Henman

Featured Article

Madame de Pompadour was the alluring chief mistress of King Louis XV, but few people know her dark history—or the chilling secret shared by her and Louis.

Madame de Pompadour Facts

Entrancing Facts About Madame de Pompadour, France's Most Powerful Mistress

Madame de Pompadour was the alluring chief mistress of King Louis XV, but few people know her dark history—or the chilling secret shared by her and Louis.
December 7, 2018 Kyle Climans

More from Factinate

Featured Article

I tried to get my ex-wife served with divorce papers. I knew that she was going to take it badly, but I had no idea about the insane lengths she would go to just to get revenge and mess with my life.

These People Got Genius Revenges

When someone really pushes our buttons, we'd like to think that we'd hold our head high and turn the other cheek, but revenge is so, so sweet.
April 22, 2020 Scott Mazza

Featured Article

Catherine of Aragon is now infamous as King Henry VIII’s rejected queen—but few people know her even darker history.

Catherine of Aragon Facts

Tragic Facts About Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s First Wife

Catherine of Aragon is now infamous as King Henry VIII’s rejected queen—but very few people know her even darker history.
June 7, 2018 Christine Tran

Dear reader,

Want to tell us to write facts on a topic? We’re always looking for your input! Please reach out to us to let us know what you’re interested in reading. Your suggestions can be as general or specific as you like, from “Life” to “Compact Cars and Trucks” to “A Subspecies of Capybara Called Hydrochoerus Isthmius.” We’ll get our writers on it because we want to create articles on the topics you’re interested in. Please submit feedback to contribute@factinate.com. Thanks for your time!

Do you question the accuracy of a fact you just read? At Factinate, we’re dedicated to getting things right. Our credibility is the turbo-charged engine of our success. We want our readers to trust us. Our editors are instructed to fact check thoroughly, including finding at least three references for each fact. However, despite our best efforts, we sometimes miss the mark. When we do, we depend on our loyal, helpful readers to point out how we can do better. Please let us know if a fact we’ve published is inaccurate (or even if you just suspect it’s inaccurate) by reaching out to us at contribute@factinate.com. Thanks for your help!

Warmest regards,

The Factinate team

Want to learn something new every day?

Join thousands of others and start your morning with our Fact Of The Day newsletter.

Thank you!

Error, please try again.