FOR 28 years the Berlin Wall, erected in the middle of the night by East German soldiers and construction workers, kept East Germans from fleeing to the West.
The wall was a physical division between West Berlin and East Germany and also a symbolic boundary between Western democracy and Soviet communism during the Cold War.
The opening of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989 was celebrated not only by the German people but by citizens worldwide.
The Berlin Wall was built after World War II.
At the end of the war the victorious Allied powers divided Germany into four zones with The United States, Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union controlling one part each.
This arrangement was agreed to at a conference held in the occupied German town of Potsdam from July 16 to August 2, 1945. The Soviet Union's Communist Party General Secretary Joseph Stalin, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and U S President Harry Truman gathered to decide how to administer punishment on Nazi Germany, which had agreed to unconditional surrender nine weeks earlier on May 8 (Victory in Europe Day).
Germany's capital city, Berlin, was also divided into four occupied zones.
The relationship between the Soviet Union and the other three Allies quickly deteriorated and the co-operative atmosphere of the occupation of Germany turned competitive and aggressive.
In 1949 the new organisation of Germany became official when three zones occupied by the United States, Great Britain and France combined to form West Germany (the Federal Republic of Germany). The zone occupied by the Soviet Union was quickly formed into East Germany (the German democratic Republic).
This same division of east and west also occurred in Berlin, which was situated entirely within the Soviet zone of occupation.
The occupying forces in West Germany had set up a society that encouraged economic development, improved living standards, and allowed people to live well and travel if they wished.
Nearly the opposite occurred in East Germany, where the Soviet Union had stripped the country of its assets and shipped them back home.
A communist society was set up, the economy stagnated, and individual freedom was severely restricted.
By the late 1950s many people living in East Germany wanted to escape the repressive living conditions so they packed up and headed to West Berlin where they were given temporary housing until being flown to West Germany.
By the early 1960s East Germany was rapidly losing labour, and its population and various sources suggest that by 1961, 2.5 to 3.5 million people had fled the country.
Desperate to keep its citizens, East Germany commenced just after midnight on August 13, 1961 trucking in soldiers and construction workers who tore up the streets that led into West Berlin. …