H C Singh

Berlin Wall – Its Erection and Demolition

After the Second World War, USSR conquered, besides Eastern Europe, half of Germany. Accordingly after Allied Victory and defeat of Germany there were two Germanys- Anglo American conquest of West Germany and USSR conquest of Eastern Germany, Western Germany under Capitalist democracy and East Germany under Communist type of democracy. There was lot of hue and cry on the division of Germany into two parts. But in 1945 defeated Germans were helpless. They could not demand anything. They could not get anything. They were a defeated country that had gone to war to conquer entire Europe including USSR.

During Second World War Germany under Adolf Hitler, the Fascist dictator, committed many crimes against humanity, besides launching a war on East and West of Germany, killing millions, six million Jews were killed in gas chambers.

Now let us see how, when and why Berlin Wall was built to segregate West and East Germany, the artificial division of a country with one language and one culture. Berlin Wall was constructed by Soviet Government in 1961 because Germans, in thousands were leaving their homes and hearths, were crossing the so called boundary and going to West Germany where they were welcomed and where there was, now, real democracy neither Hitlerite Fascism nor communist type of thought control. West Germany had, in a few years, after the end of Second World War became real home of all Germans. About 100 Germans from East had died while crossing and trying to escape from East Germany.

Berlin Wall was built to stop this emigration form East to West Germany which was defaming USSR and telling not only West Germans but whole of World that USSR was itself not worth living.  This emigration was having far-reaching effect on Eastern Europe which after war was under communism. Poland in particular resented so much that its leaders were thinking of revolting against so called USSR occupation of their country.

During World War II almost half of Berlin had been destroyed by Allied bombings. As a result population of Berlin declined from 43 lakhs in 1938 to about 28 lakh in 1945. As British, French and US forces were far off, Soviet Union shipped “about 85 percent of city’s undamaged industrial equipment” to its own country as British and American troops reached Berlin in July and French troops entered Berlin in August 1945. Though Berlin was completely under Soviet Union, Western Powers demanded free passage which USSR did not accept. So the Berlin City was also divided into two parts East Berlin under USSR and West Berlin under Allies control, as earlier they had divided East and West Germany into two parts.

Division of Berlin, which was virtually on paper, did not work. Particularly it failed to satisfy Soviets as lot of East Germans and East Berliners were emigrating to West Berlin and West Germany. So  the USSR, in 1948 blocked all routes rail, road and water from East Berlin to West Berlin. Western powers, not to be left behind air lifted supplies to West Berlin for about 2 million residents. Thus the Soviet blockade failed and Soviet Union lifted the blockade in May 1949 but City Hall located in East Berlin was occupied by Russians. So the West Berlin had to have its own government in West Berlin. Within four years of the end of War, West and Russia became almost hostile over Berlin issue.

In 1958 Nikita Khrushev asked for demilitarization of West Berlin and converting it into free Zone. To this Western powers disagreed and rejected the proposed solution. As everyday more than 1000 East Germans were crossing into West Berlin and West Germany Russia in 1961 decided to build a strong wall to prevent any emigration to West Berlin/ West Germany. Thus in August 1961 strong Berlin Wall was built which was 4 meters in height and 40 kilometers in length. Berlin became an isolated city.

Bitterness in relations between Western Powers and USSR continued unabated for a decade. Only in 1971 USSR and West realized the  folly of segregation of Germans into East and West German’s. History is never static. History moves in all countries, all cultures and all civilizations. Thus in 1971, USSR and Allies (France, England and USA) signed an agreement on the status of Berlin. Representatives of East and West Germany sat together for months and finally worked out details agreeable to both the parties. So the agreement of 1971 came into effect in 1972. Relation with East and West Berlin and East and West Germany improved in 70’s. In 1989 there were wide spread demands for unification of East and West Berlin. East German government considering the time ripe for unification of East and West Berlin, removed all restriction on November 9, 1989 and as a result 29 year old Berlin wall was ‘opened’ and in due course demolished. It was a great day for Germans after defeat in World War II it was a first taste of victory. Though unification of Berlin and in due course of East and West Germany becoming once again an important country of Europe Germany.

Historic celebration of 20th anniversary of Demolition of Berlin Wall were attended by/besides million of Germans, all the leaders of the countries who fought war against Hitler’s Fascist Germany and defeated him after loss of millions of lives. Leaders who attended the historic function included German President Horst Koehler and Chacellor  Angela Merkel  British PM Gordon Brown, French President Nicolos Sarkozy, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Polish President Lech Walesa, and Hilary Clinton U.S Foreign Secretary. Former USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev was a special attraction as it is Gorbachev whose reforming attitude persuaded Soviet leadership to the reforms. According the German crowd gathered to celebrate chanted “Gorby, Gorby, Gorby.” British PM Gordon Brown said “Two Berlins are one. Two Germanys are one. Two Europes are one.” This marks the significance of 7th November 1989 and so such almost world wide celebrations of 20th anniversary of Berlin Walls Demolition.

November 12, 2009 - Posted by | Cold War, USSR, World, World History | , , , , , , , , , , ,

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