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Berlin Wall

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Submitted By mhumes9291965
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Once the proud capital of Germany Berlin was divided by a barrier that was patrolled day and night by armed soldiers and guard dogs. On August 13, 1961 shortly after midnight police and soldiers in the Communist controlled Berlin moved quickly to set up barriers. Berliners woke to find their city divided into east and west sectors. A communist nation led by the Soviet Union was in control of East Berlin. While West Berlin was controlled by a democratic nation led by the United States (Epler, 1992). The Berlin Wall known as Berliner Mauer in German (Rosenberg, 2016). It was a symbol of the Cold War. Trying to cross the Wall meant risking one’s life. One side of the Wall people were free to do all the normal things. While the other side of the wall people’s freedom was being taken away. Imagine that your best friend lives a mile away. You have been pals since first grade. You do everything together: school, soccer games, sleepovers. One day, men come and put up a barbed-wire fence between your house and your buddy’s house. Later, they replace it with a very long, very tall concrete wall. Each slab weighs 6,000 pounds, and many of them are topped with sharp wire. When they finish, you stare at the giant wall that has split your home town in two. On your side the wall is ugly but not too scary. On the other side, rattling tanks, soldiers with machine guns and growling dogs keep people from trying to cross the barrier. The wall stands 12 feet high. Your friend lives on the other side. You can’t see him. And you won’t … for the next 28 years. Welcome to Berlin, Germany. The year is 1961 (Tousignant, 2014). The Berlin Wall stood from 1961 to 1989 separating Berlin into east and west (Berlin Wall Fast Facts, 2015). While there were many elaborate and dangerous borderlines separating nations around the world. Berlin was the only city that was divided by a barrier. The Wall was designed to keep people in not to keep people out (Hay, 2010).
The rise of the Berlin Wall cannot by understood without a look back into the history of German (Epler, 1992).
World War II began in September 1939 Adolf Hitler leader of the National Socialist German Worker Party (Nazi) promised that he could solve the problems in Germany and bring prosperity back to the area (Epler, 1992). As he started to put his plan of conquest into action. He had already taken over Austria and Czechoslovakia. Later Poland, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Luxembourg and France all fell to Hitler’s invading forces (Epler, 1992). In spite of an alliance with the Soviet Union he launched an attack against the country. Shortly after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor he jumped to declare war on the United States.
It wasn’t until 1945, when Allied soldiers would reach German soil. General Dwight D. Eisenhower the supreme commander of the Allied forces in Europe advanced from the west. While Soviet troops advanced from the east. Soviet soldiers began their assault on Berlin with Hitler trapped he committed suicide on April 30, 1945 (Epler, 1992). By May 2nd the Soviets were in control of Berlin, Germany signed an unconditional surrender on May 8, 1945 (Epler, 1992). It was time to bring order back to Germany.
The European Advisory Commission, comprised of the United States, Britain, and Soviet Union all began to plan Germany’s future. At a conference in Yalta President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Prime Minister Winston Churchill convince Soviet Union Leader Joseph Stalin to create a zone for France (Epler, 1992).
After the death of President Roosevelt in 1945 Harry Truman became president. In July 1945 President Truman, British Prime Minister Churchill and Soviet Leader Stalin met at Potsdam near Berlin. It was during this meeting that the final decision was made regarding how Germany should be organized and where the borders would be drawn. Berlin became a special area of interest.
It was decided that Berlin would be divided. Twelve boroughs roughly 188 square miles was placed in the control of Britain, France and the United States. While the Soviets were given the eastern part of the city, consisting of eight boroughs roughly 144 square miles (Epler, 1992). All agreed that Berlin would one day be reunited.
The Allies were allowed to take steps to control their zones. The Soviet Union suffered enormous devastation during World War II so they felt justified in seizing anything they wanted. They started shipping entire factories, motor vehicles, railroad cars, even the rails the railroad cars operated on back to the Soviet Union. East Berlin was being stripped.
In May 1946 General Lucius D. Clay, the American commandant, ordered an end to the dismantlement of industries in the American zone. The British and French followed suit efforts in the western zone were then focused on helping the German economy to recover.
Germans in the Soviet zone were finding their lives being rearranged by others. The Soviets had taken control of their industries and were starting to take control of their estates and farms. The Soviets also began to rearrange the thinking of the East Germans telling them they were not Hitler’s followers but his victims (Epler, 1992).
The German Socialist Unity Party was formed in 1946, modeled after the Soviet Communist Party. East Germans who joined started going to weekly meetings, for many years they had been told that the Germans were the rightful leaders of the world. Now they were being told that the international communism led by the Soviet Union would take its rightful place.
In the Western zone political parties were being formed and elections were being held for local governments and state legislature. Land and industry remained in private hands. Germany was caught in a strange situation: a democratic, capitalistic system in the west and a communist on in the east (Epler, 1992).
The Soviet Union operated under a communist government. A communist economy eliminates private ownership of property (Hay, 2010). Soviet Union already began expanding its influence into the Eastern European countries, to include in their zones of Germany as well as the Soviet sector of Berlin.
The United States on the other hand, believed that controlling Germany and keeping the Germans in an impoverished state would lead to more struggle in the future (Hay, 2010). The United States wanted to rebuild Germany as a strong democratic nation with a capitalistic economy. Under a democratic system the government would consist of several political parties. A capitalist economy allows for privately owned property.
In January 1947 President Truman appointed George Marshall to be the Secretary of the State. Marshall, George Kennan, William Clayton and others crafted the Marshall Plan concept. Officially known as the European Recovery Program (ERP) it was intended to rebuild the economies and spirits of western Europe. Marshall was convinced the key to restoration of political stability lay in the revitalization of national economies (History of the Marshall Plan).
Sixteen nations, including Germany, became part of the program and shaped the assistance they required, state by state, with administrative and technical assistance provided through the Economic Cooperation Administration (ECA) of the United States. On April 3, 1948 President Truman signed the ECA of 1948, which later became known as the Marshall Plan (Marshal Plan (1948)).
European nations received nearly $13 billion in aid. What initially started as shipments of food, staples, fuel and machinery later resulted in investment in industrial capacity in Europe. The Marshall Plan funding ended in 1951 (History of the Marshall Plan).
With tensions building between the Soviets and the Western Allies mounting the Soviets tried to force the Allies out of Berlin. They began tightening travel restrictions between East and West Berlin. They stopped parcel post deliveries so goods started piling up in warehouses. The Soviets demanded that all Western troops leave the city. Roads and railways were blocked, barges could no longer use the canals, and power lines that carried electricity to from East Berlin to the western sectors were turned off (Epler, 1992).
The first Soviet effort to force the Western Allies from Berlin came in 1948 with the eleven-month blockade. There were three key events that led to the Soviet blockade of Berlin. The institution of the Marshall plan for European Recovery; the London Conferences of winter and spring 1948; and the London Program which called for a separate West Germany and currency reform (Berlin Blockade, 2016).
While it may have been a combination of all three events that led to the blockade, it was the London Program that seemed to be the predominant factor in the decision. The London Conference of June 1948 led to the establishment of the London Program. Under this program a West German government was to be established. The western Allies wanted to combine their zones so that they could be a single economic unit and that the currency exchange be uniform throughout the western sectors of Germany (Berlin Blockade, 2016).
In June of 1948 there was a quarrel over German currency. The Western Allies started issuing new currency in the western zone. Deutschemark known as the D-mark was secretly being printed in the United States (Hay, 2010). The Soviets rejected the D-mark and started issuing the Ostmark. Neither side was willing to accept the others currency. The debate on which currency was to be accepted led to the Berlin Blockade. The Soviets had hoped the blockade would force the Western Allies to leave Berlin (Hay, 2010).
The Soviets started halting all shipments of supplies and food through East Germany to West Berlin. Cut-off from the outside world, the Allied nations did not want to leave Berlin. The United States and United Kingdom responded by airlifting food and fuel to West Berlin from Allied airbases in western Germany. Which was known as the Berlin Airlift, from June 24, 1948 until May 12, 1949 (Milestones: 1945-1952, 2013). Over the next 321 days, Western fliers made 272,000 flights into West Berlin, delivering thousands of tons of supplies every day (Foner, 2010). Even after a Soviet plane fired upon a British plane attempting to land the airlifts continued (Epler, 1992). After almost a year the Soviets realized their efforts to force the Allies out had failed so they agreed to lift the blockade.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was created on April 4, 1949. The members included the United States, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Italy, Portugal, Britain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. Greece and Turkey joined in 1952, West Germany in 1955 and Spain in 1982 (Epler, 1992). The countries banded together to collectively provide national security. Article 5 of the NATO charter states: The parties shall agree that an armed attack against one or more of them, shall be considered an attack against all of them (Epler, 1992).
The Western territories in Germany adopted a constitution on May 23, 1949 establishing the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG). September 1949 Konrad Adenauer was elected the first chancellor of West Germany until 1963. The city of Bonn was the new temporary capital of the FRG, until Germany could be unified and Berlin could once again be the capital.
A short time later on October 7, 1949 the German Democratic Republic (GDR) of East Berlin was established. Dominated by the Communist Socialist Unity Party East Berlin became its capital and Wilhelm Pieck was the first chosen president. On paper the constitution of East Germany was similar to that of West Germany. The GDR attracted adverse attention throughout the world. Its disregard of international laws it quickly gained the permutation of being the harshest regimes in the Communist world (Heller, 1962). With the two governments in place things were leading to the difficulty forty-year struggle.
Soviet leader Joseph Stalin died March 5, 1953 which led to Nikita Khrushchev becoming the new Soviet leader. Khrushchev emerged as the most powerful figure in the Soviet Union consolidating his control within three years. He managed to make some improvements in the Soviet economy. With changes taking place there was hope that the situation in East Germany would improve.
In a diplomatic note to the United States, dated 27 November 1958, Khrushchev set a time limit of six months for the “Berlin Crisis” to be settled on Russian terms. These terms stated that there would be two Germanys and West Berlin would be turned into a demilitarized free city (Heller, 1962). He went on to state that if this six-month period was not used to sign a peace treaty arranging matters between the two Germanys. The Soviet Union proposed to sign a peace treaty with East Germans that would terminate the rights of all of the Four Powers in Germany. The Berlin Crisis fizzled out after four months and Khrushchev backed down from his ultimatum.
In June 1961, President John F. Kennedy met with Khrushchev in Vienna, Austria. Once again the Soviet Union issued an ultimatum: The Western powers were to remove their troops from Berlin within six months and recognize the reality of East Germany. Berlin itself would become a free city and the Western powers would only have access if the East Germans allowed them (Epler, 1992). This time his ultimatum was followed by a threat. If the Western Allies did not comply the Soviet Union was prepared to fight a nuclear war.
Khrushchev’s campaign of terror had not produce the effects he had hoped for. In at least three ways it set in motion forces which he had not anticipated and could not control. First he convinced President Kennedy of the seriousness of the Soviet Union’s threats and of the harsh necessity of taking drastic countermeasures. Second these threats produce unity within the NATO nations over the need to defend West Berlin. Third the campaign of terror produced an electric effect in East Berlin and East Germany (Heller, 1962).
Former Secretary of the State Dean Acheson provided President Kennedy with a list he believed were Khrushchev’s five primary objectives regarding Berlin. First was to stabilize the East German regime and prepare for its eventful international recognition. Second to legalize Germany’s eastern frontiers. Third is to neutralize West Berlin then prepare for takeover by the GDR. Fourth is to weaken if not break the NATO Alliance. Fifth was to discredit the United States (Kempe, 2011).
Since 1949 some 2.5 million East Germans fled from East to West Germany. Due to Khrushchev’s campaign of terror in 1961 more than 200,000 people left the eastern zone of Berlin in search of freedom (Epler, 1992). The government felt something had to be done but what? Communist leader Walter Ulbricht was elected president of the East German People’s Chamber following the death of former president Wilhelm Pieck.
Ulbricht now had supreme in East Germany and was able to call the shots in East Berlin. Ulbricht complained that West Berlin was experiencing a growth boom. West Berlin had increased their wages for their workers. They had created more favorable living conditions and rebuilt the main parts of the city (Kempe, 2011). He convinced Khrushchev that a wall had to be built, a wall would shut people in and annex East Berlin to Communist East Germany. July 1961 Communist-inspired stories began to appear in the East German press that popular and democratic groups in East Berlin had passed resolutions insisting that steps be taken to close the borders to protect them (Heller, 1962). As Khrushchev’s speeches grew more violent and more extreme. West Berlin was denounced as a haven for spies, revenger-seeking militarists, Nazis, revanchists and troublemakers. He spoke of West Berlin as a “bone in the throat” of Communism which must be removed (Heller, 1962). He vowed publicly that his ultimatum in 1961 would not be withdrawn at it was in 1958. President Kennedy called upon the people of the United States to prepare for war on July 25, 1961. He stated “We do not want to fight, but we have fought before, it would be a mistake for others to look upon Berlin, because of its location as a tempting target” (Heller, 1962). August 1, 1961, over a thousand people were registered in twenty-four hours at the Marienfelde Refugee Reception Center (Heller, 1962). It was believed that at least 2,000 East Germans were crossing into the West every day (August 15, 1961: Berlin Wall built, 2010). Many of the refugees were skilled laborers, professionals and intellectuals their loss was having a devastating effect on the East German Economy. In an effort to stop the fleeing of their people East German press invented incredible tales that East Berlin girls were being recruited for brothels for American servicemen. The East German regime started an intense campaign to halt border crossing. Hundreds were removed from buses, commuter trains, and subways before they could reach West berlin. The East Berliners who worked in West Berlin were being intimidated by police and posters which denounced them as traitors who sold their labor to West Berlin’s militarist (Heller, 1962). Names of East Germans who worked in the West and lived in the East were posted in their apartments and their neighbors were supposed to convince them to quit their jobs in the West. As the regime stepped up its persecution of border crossers. The government issued official warnings: Anyone who makes a trip to West Germany runs a great risk. Anyone caught crossing the border would lose their identity card, face eviction from their apartments and possible restrictions of their children’s schooling. By August 12, 1961 everyone realized that the situation could not continue much longer. An explosion was sure to come. The only questions were – when? What? And would it involve war (Heller, 1962)? August 13, 1961 Sunday night was like any other night as most East Berliners were in bed, others were in cafes with friends, some in dance halls, while others were on their way home from visiting friends and loved ones who lived in the West. Few were aware of the column of Soviet jeeps headed for Berlin. At exactly fifteen minutes past midnight, Zero Hour, Ulbricht with the help of his protégé Erich Honecker started to build the Wall (Epler, 1992). August 13, 1961 was known as barbed-wire Sunday the wall was in place. East Berliner were forbidden to pass into West Berlin and the number of checkpoints in which Westerners could cross was being drastically reduced. When it was evident that the West was not going to take any major action to protest the closing. East German authorities began closing off more and more checkpoints. East German authorities declared the wall would protect their citizens from the pernicious influence of decadent capitalist culture (August 15, 1961: Berlin Wall built, 2010). By August 15th they began replacing barbed-wire with concrete. The first concrete pilings went up on Bernauer Strasse and the Potsdamer Platz. Willy Brandt mayor of West Berlin stated that the cold concrete posts that split Berlin were rammed into the heart of Germany (Epler, 1992). The barbed-wire barrier was only the first steps in sealing off West Berlin over the following months the wire would be replaced with a massive wall built of concrete walls. The wall zigzagged just on the eastern side of the borders established in 1945. Dividing families and destroying friendships, cutting through parks, factories and homes. In many places the wall was built down the middle of city streets. On the east side troops took over homes boarding up the windows. Eventually a second wall was built to ensure no one could get across. It took seven days to build the so called Wall of Shame (Heller, 1962). In his speech on August 20, 1961, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson made this comment to West Berliners. “A barrier of barbed-wire has been thrown across your city. It has broken for you – and more important – for your brethren to the east – vital human ties – that reach back into the lives of families and friends and into the life of this great city” (Heller, 1962) Checkpoint Charlie was the main crossing point for the American sector of West Berlin, it is here where tensions over the wall almost erupted into military conflict. The United States insisted that its officials did not have to show their passports to East German guard when crossing into East Berlin. So the United States sent tanks, military jeeps and soldiers to the checkpoint to escort the officials across the border so they would not be challenged. In response the Soviets rolled tanks into East Berlin soon the American tanks were faced with ten Soviet tanks. After sixteen tense hours the Soviets backed down (Epler, 1992). The first concrete wall was about twenty-eight miles long ranging from nine to twelve feet high. Manned by 30,000 troops in 193 watchtowers and 208 bunkers. Assisted by guard dogs, batteries of floodlights, alarms, minefields and automatically triggered guns. Guards had permission to shoot on sight. The East Berlin side of the wall was painted white so soldiers could easily see the outline of anyone trying to escape (Epler, 1992). Over the years the first Wall was modified at least three more times. In 1962 modifications were made to strengthen the wall weak points were quickly identified and sealed up. In 1965 a third generation of construction began which included using concrete slabs between steel girders and concrete posts. The last major reconstruction happened in 1975 which included interlocking concrete segments. The border dividing East and West Berlin was 96 miles in length, the concrete structure was only 66 miles in length (Hay, 2010). After the last major reconstruction there were now over 300 watch towers, 65 miles of anti-vehicle ditches, over 20 concrete bunkers, several hundred patrol dogs and over 10,000 guards. As the Wall grew higher many East Berliners’ desire to escape grew as well. A few managed to bribe their way through with cigarettes or money. The greatest number of escape attempts happened within the first year, some escapes were at the spur of the moment while others took months to plan. One of the first methods used was to jump out of the windows of apartment buildings that were directly located next to the wall. East German police began boarding up the windows, as one floor was boarded up they would go to the next floor. Eventually they evicted over 2,000 families who lived alongside the wall. While some managed to escape several jumped to their deaths. Climbing the wall was considered the dangerous method used to escape. East Berliners would throw ropes over the wall hoping to catch something solid on the other side or be helped by a West Berliner. In November 1961 thirty people tried to climb the Wall, only nine were successful the rest retreated under heavy gun fire. These attempts to escaped led to the banned on the sale of any rope or twine strong enough to hold a human being (Epler, 1992). The first person to be killed while trying to escape was Gunter Litfin. On August 24, 1961 the wall was still mostly barbed-wire so he had hoped to break through with a well-timed run on what he believed was a poorly guarded stretch. Spotted climbing over railway tracks, he was shot in the head. Officials hushed up his death responding to rumors with claims that Liftin was a gay man known as “Dolly” fleeing due to his criminal acts (Major, 2014). In August 1962 two young East Germans named Peter Fechter and Helmut Kulbeik spotted an empty building near the crossing to the American zone. They managed to enter the building without being seen and found a window that had not been boarded up. Both dropped out the window and raced over the wasteland slipping through the barbed-wire onto a sandy roadway. Once at the wall Kulbeik was the first to climb the wall tearing and tugging at more barbed-wire as he reached the top. He was about to swing over to freedom when he realized Fechter was still on the ground. An East German guard stood a short distance away then the firing started. As bullets pierced his body he began to climb, crouch over the top he fell backwards. The West Berlin police and United States guards at Checkpoint Charlie could not help because they were forbidden to set foot in the East. After about fifty minutes of laying on the ground bleeding the East border police carried him away on a stretcher. He later died marking the fiftieth victim of the Wall (Epler, 1992). A memorial was later build on the spot where he died. In German it reads: “He just wanted freedom” (Tousignant, 2014). A train engineer stowed his family and friends on a train and drove it right through the last stop in East berlin to the west which lead to the tracks near the border being torn up. A month later 28 people escaped at one time through the barrier into the French sector. Others tried trickery on one incident a woman brought flowers to the guards as she handed the flowers over she turned and bolted for the border. A guard ran after her shouting for her to stop and as he too escaped to the west. East Berliners started creating tunnels to escape as one tunnel was destroyed another was built. One group started a tunnel at a mausoleum in a cemetery bordering the wall. Mourners would file into the mausoleum but never came out. This worked well until a woman took her baby leaving the carriage outside. Guards investigated and found the tunnel which was destroyed. March 1962 was looked at as when the Ulbricht regime’s State Security Service reached its extreme point. This was in connection with the arrest a thirteen-year-old schoolboy named Joachim Fidorra. His crime was that he had publicly criticized in school the Stalin as a personality cult. So he was hustled off to a communist compulsory training camp. His parents got knowledge of their son’s arrest from his schoolmates (Heller, 1962). President John F. Kennedy flew into West Berlin and the Berliners went wild over his visit. Thousands of people jammed to hear his speech with the East Berliners climbing on top of vehicles, lamp post, buildings and trees. He grew great popularity with this part of his speech “All free men, wherever they may be, are citizens of Berlin. Therefore, as a free man, I take pride in these words: Ich bin ein Berliner! (I am a Berliner). There are many people in the world who really don’t understand, or say they don’t, what is the great issue between the free world and the communist world. Lassi sie nach Berlin kommen (Let them come to Berlin)” (Epler, 1992). So what was the wall doing to the victims, the people of East Berlin (Heller, 1962)? The Wall represented the barring of Western scientific and cultural contracts. With the inability to escape and the barrage of “Hate the West” propaganda the wall twisted and perverted the lives of people of East Germany. The rising of the wall started to compound the already struggling medical crisis in East Germany. For the East Berlin doctors that stayed were being faced with two harsh restrictions in the care provided no matter how grave the medical problem or condition of the patient. First they were forbidden to prescribe medicines manufactured in the west. Second the West Berlin hospitals were now off-limits to residents of East Berlin (Heller, 1962). As time went on west Germany developed into one of the strongest economies in Europe. Businesses were striving, music was everywhere and tourist were welcome. East Berlin was not so inviting; despite new buildings the city was still run down. Life in East Berlin was not easy although state subsidies kept rent low and employment was guaranteed. The government still controlled the wages. The quality of goods produced from the industries were of low quality. East Germany may have developed on of the stronger economies in the communist world. Life in East Berlin was still hard. In 1968 the East German Constitution was changed to eliminate rights that had been allowed, such as the right to emigrate or strike. The Ministry for State Security (Stasi) or secret police was formed. Their job was to maintain networks of informers and keep files on thousands of citizens. Anyone suspected of disagreeing with the government were sent to jail. East and West German government final reached an agreement that West Germans could get a permit to visit relative in the east. The number of people allowed to visit family and fees for the permits varied depending on the state of relations between the east and west at the time. In 1975 East Germany signed in to effect the Helsinki Final Accord which was an international pact that guaranteed human rights. Under his pact tens of thousands of people were given the right to leave East Germany and go to other lands. Only a few were actually permitted to leave and others had to risk bullets if they tried to leave (Heller, 1962). The 1980s brought a new round of leadership around the world, with Ronal Reagan becoming the president of the United States in 1981. Helmut Kohl became the chancellor of West Germany in October 1982. Kohl helped West Germany in becoming one of the richest countries in the world by the mid-1980s (Heller, 1962). In 1985 Mikhail Gorbachev was chosen as the first secretary of the Soviet Communist party. He was to be the start of a new chapter in history. Gorbachev began talking about the need for the Soviet people to learn to work in new ways. With the near collapse of the Soviet economy he introduced two new policies that he felt would bring new life to the country and turn the economy around (Heller, 1962). The first policy was glasmost, a term that came to mean openness, through this policy the Soviet people were told they could criticize their government which would help shape their own destiny. He promised the relaxation of the strict emigration laws and that his government would observe international standards of human rights. Glasmost was intended to help the economy by encouraging people to expose corruption. This policy led to the rebirth of Soviet culture as the Soviets began to learn more about their country and the outside world. The second policy was perestroika, a term that means restructuring, this policy encompassed a range of economic, political, and social reform. These changes vastly reduced the central government control of the enterprise. It involved Soviet citizens more directly in their government bringing a measure of democracy to the country (Heller, 1962). East Germany commemorated the 25th anniversary of the rise of the Berlin Wall on August 13, 1986 with a parade of 8,000 troops along Kari-Marx-Allee in East Berlin. The Allied powers issued a statement that called the parade a clear violation of the demilitarized status of Berlin. While West Berliners laid wreaths along the wall in memory of those killed attempting to cross (Epler, 1992). In chancellor Kohl’s speech at the Reichstag building he said “As long as there is a wall, barbed-wire, and orders to shoot there can be talk of normality in Germany” (Epler, 1992). The Berlin Wall became a backdrop for perhaps the most ionic speech for President Reagan, on Berlin’s 750 anniversary of being a city. President Reagan included the following in his speech. “We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace. There is no sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this Wall (25 Things you probably didn't know about the Berlin Wall, 2015). In mid-1989 Hungary became the first country to open its borders with the West. East Germans who were permitted traveled to Hungary and found an escape route that led then through Austria and finally into West Germany where they were guaranteed citizenship. By October the East German government closed its borders to stop the flood of East Germans leaving. After learning that Erich Honecker the East German Communist leader had been living a life luxury he was oust. A number of other East German Communist leaders resigned at the same time. Egon Krenz replaced him as the new East German Communist leader he promised to talk with the opposition groups. Unable to keep pace with the rapid changes in his country Krenz resign before being in position a year. He was replaced by Hans Modrow (Heller, 1962). November 9, 1989 the government abruptly announced that the borders between East and West Germany and East Berlin would be opened. Permission to travel or emigrate would be granted. The government felt if the people were allowed to travel freely they would not emigrate. People in East Berlin began to go to the wall to see if what they were hearing was true. It was true. At Checkpoint Charlie long lines of cars and people moved into West Berlin. Berliners were heard shouting “Gates open!” “The Wall is gone!” (Epler, 1992). Some Germans knowing, they would not be shot climbed to the top of the wall. Celebrations continued throughout the night into the next day. The East German government was collapsing; their money was useless. West Germany gave every East German one hundred D-Marks which equaled to several months of pay. The radio station had announced that the banks and post office would open at 9 a.m., thousands stood in line to pick up their cash (Hay, 2010). Freedom of movement gave hope that someday the two Germanys would become one again. The enjoyment of the pulling down of the wall began to decrease as the two different cultures began to mingle. Some Germans feared that they had been separated for such a long period of time and existed under completely different ideologies that it would never be possible to come together as one nation. The once mighty barrier was gradually being dismantled. Berliners and tourist were seen hacking at the cement wanting a souvenir. Large cranes filled the streets as the demolition continued. Section of the wall were carried off to be ground to sand other pieces were being sold. People as far away as the United States, Japan, and other countries expressed interest in obtaining pieces of the wall for monuments. A twelve-foot-high 6,000-pound concrete slab was removed to become part of a monument at West Minister College in Fulton, Missouri (Epler, 1992). The wall was not the only thing being sold, the watchtowers and guard dogs could also be bought. It was estimated that Germany made over $1 billion for the sales. The money was used for health services and restoration on monuments. The Germans would not allow the sale of any part of the wall where someone had been shot. As the wall went down piece by piece people wondered how long it would take for people to forget about the lives it cost. March 1990 became known as the “two plus four” talks because the participants were the two Germanys and the four Allies. These talks covered external matters that would be affected by the reunification, such as Germany’s borders and alliances. The two Germanys were to make decisions regarding internal affairs (Epler, 1992). Lothar de Maiziere of the Christian Democratic Party became the new premier of East Germany in April 1990. One of his acts in office was to ask for forgiveness from the Jews for the genocide carried out by the Nazis in World War II. East Germany began making payments to a foundation that helped survivors of the Nazi Holocaust (Epler, 1992). As the deaths and mistreatment of the Jewish people were being recognized so were many other useless deaths of many people. It was believed that these confessions and admissions fueled even stronger hopes that government leaders were ready to put Germany back together again. On August 23, 1990 the East German parliament formerly voted to join West Germany. Seven months after the two-plus-four negotiations the wartime Allies and the two Germanys signed a treaty. The Allies gave up all occupation rights and granted full sovereignty to unified Germany it also created an agreement that Soviet troops would withdraw. Midnight October 3, 1990 the black, red, and gold flag of the Federal Republic of Germany was unfurled in front of the Reichstag building in Berlin. East Germany official became part of West Germany. Germany was now a single nation with 78 million people and 137,900 square miles (Epler, 1992). Chancellor Kohl in a televised speech, thanked the Western Allies and especially the United States for their years of support. In November 1990 leaders of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) met in Paris. When French President Francois Mitterran opened the summit he said: “This is the first time in history that we witness a profound transformation of the European landscape which is not the result of war or a bloody revolution” (Epler, 1992). The leaders all signed a document known as the Charter of Paris for a New Europe. This document proclaimed an end to the era of confrontation and division in Europe and vowed a new era of democracy, peace, and unity. President Bush was quoted saying “The Cold War is over, in the signing of the Charter of Paris, we have closed a chapter on history” (Epler, 1992). Clearly the year 1990 would go down in history as the end of the Cold War. The two Germanys were united as one and many Eastern European countries were leaving their old government and moving towards a democracy. In her book The Berlin Wall How It Rose and Why It Fell; Doris M. Epler made the following statements: “if video cameras could have captured everything that happened around the Berlin Wall during its twenty-eight-year life, the world would have dramatic visual image of the suffering it caused. People might also have a better understanding of the forces that created the Wall and those that finally brought it down. The Berlin Wall made of barbed-wire and reinforced concrete, was also made of ignorance.” So the question remains: Can people of the world cooperate to prevent future generations from going through the pain that Berlin suffered (Epler, 1992)?

References
25 Things you probably didn't know about the Berlin Wall. (2015, February 2015). Retrieved from http://www.rt.com/news/201255berlinwallanniversary25
August 15, 1961: Berlin Wall built. (2010). Retrieved from History.com: http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/berlin-wall-built
Berlin Blockade. (2016, March 23). Retrieved from Cold War Museum: http://www.coldwar.org/articles/40s/berlin-blockade.asp
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Foner, E. G. (2010). Berlin Blockade. Retrieved from History.com: http;//www.history.com/topics/cold-war/berlin-blockade
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Major, P. (2014, November 8). How the Berlin Wall Came to be Built. Retrieved from The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/lifestyle/history/berlinwallwhatyouneedtoknowaboutthebarrierthatdividedeastandwest
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Tousignant, M. (2014, Novermber 7). The Berlin Wall fell 25 years ago. Retrieved from The Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/kidspost/the-berlin-wall-fell-25-years-ago/2014/11/06/4d2a900c-5fab-11e4-9f3a-7e28799e0549_story.html…...

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