soon a concrete wall was built, hermetically closing down East Berlin from the West. Subway services between the two sectors were stopped. The Western Allies did not interfere with these operations.
The Wall effectively stopped the flow of large masses of people from East Germany to the West. By the end of the year, only a handful of desperate people had been able to escape. Between 1949 and 1961, about 2.7 million East Germans sought refuge in the West, mostly young, educated people. Naturally, they had no language problem and were swiftly integrated into the economy and society of West Germany. However, between the building of the Wall and 1980, only 177,000 people succeeded in escaping from East Germany.
The Berlin Wall became a constant source of individual tragedies. Despite the well-publicized order of Walter Ulbricht, reinforced by his successor, Erich Honecker, to shoot would-be refugees, there were always some people desperate enough to take their chances. By the time the communist system had collapsed, over 300 people had been killed at the Wall. The Wall eventually became a symbol of communist oppression and brutality and the advance of the Soviet colonial empire into the heart of Europe. In 1989, it was finally dismantled.
Gelb Norman, The Berlin Wall ( London, 1986); Krisch Henry, German Politics Under Soviet Occupation ( New York, 1974).
Civil Defense. The East German state had a highly developed system of civil defense. Its confrontation with West Germany and the constant threat over Berlin made this state exceptionally belligerent, barely restrained by its Soviet controllers. The civil defense system consisted of full-time officers of the East German army and a large number of volunteers. The draftees of the East German armed forces had a choice of joining the ranks or the civil defense units, and a great many of them chose the latter. Women also joined the civil defense forces in large numbers. They did so because the service provided added income for them. The ministry of the interior had control over these forces. However, after 1976, jurisdiction was transferred to the ministry of defense. The civil defense troops were organized on the basis of military principles. They were required to attend regular training sessions. They also had to attend ideological training. They spent about one-third of their time studying Marxism-Leninism; the rest was filled with training and exercises.
Dennis Mike, German Democratic Republic: Politics, Economics, Society ( London, 1986); Larrabee F. Stephen, ed. The Two German States and European Security ( New York, 1989).
Communist Party of East Germany (Socialist Unity Party) [SED]. In 1919, radical members of the German Social Democratic party broke away from the Social Democrats under the leadership of Karl Liebknecht and the Polish-Jewish communist, Rosa Luxemburg. They formed the Communist party of Germany ( KPD). They