After the end of World War II in 1945, the victorious Allies divided Berlin into four sectors. The city became a bone of contention between the communist Soviet Union and democratic US, Great Britain and France. West Berlin, situated in the communist GDR, became an increasing grievance to East German leaders as hundreds of thousands of GDR citizens fled there to find freedom. When the USSR blockaded West Berlin between 1948 and 1949, the western Allies used an airlift to provide its population with food and supplies.

When the number of refugees continued to rise in 1961, the communist government decided to close the “loophole” to West Berlin. The East German authorities erected a concrete wall, 66 miles long and 12 feet high, to isolate the west side of Berlin. They claimed that the inhuman construction was needed as a defense against the aggressive West. Friends, families and spouses were brutally separated from one another.

Despite the wall, barbed wire, and guards, thousands of GDR citizens still attempted to flee to West Berlin. It became an extremely dangerous undertaking. By 1989, 5,000 people had been successful. Approximately 150 fugitives died.

In early 1989, Erich Honecker, the East German head of state, prophesied that the Wall “will stand in 50 and even 100 years.” By the end of that year, Honecker was no longer in office and the division of the city was history. On the night of November 9, 1989, thousands of people from East Berlin stormed the border crossings, setting off Germany’s most peaceful revolution. The GDR border troops opened the Wall and let the euphoric crowds cross over the border to West Berlin. It was the end of the Wall after 28 years of existence.

Sie verlassen jetzt West-Berlin You are leaving the American sector
Hier beginnt die Sowjetzone
Glienicker Brücke
Achtung! Grenze verläuft Liebe Eltern, Liebe Kinder
Achtung Lebensgefahr
You are entering the American sector
Neutrale Zone Sektorengrenze
Warning Danger Achtung!
Berlin Wall 1945-1990
Halt! Staatsgrenze!