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 | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cold War Between USA and USSR

Since the end of Second World War in 1945 entire Europe including UK and entire South East Asia were thrashed and thus politically and diplomatically became ineffective, rivalry between USA and USSR commenced for legacy.

USA supported with all its might Chiang Kaishek against communist MaoTse Tung so that China does not become communist under Mao and does not become ally of communist USSR. The fight between Chiang supported by Macarther and Dulles went on for many years killing Lakhs of Chinese whether supporters of Chiang or Mao. Ultimately Mao used the strategy of long March, taking all the communist supporters to safer north west from where there could not be attack by allied forces. Very soon Chinese communists with back to the wall started advancing and eliminating Chiang Kaishek’s forces. In a couple of years Chiang was thrown out of mainland China and confined to Taiwan and a few islands like Quency and Mastu. After the victory over Germany during Second World War it was USA’s first defeat.

The weakness of Dulles-Eisenhower policy over Berlin is clear to many west Berliners who, as the American ‘Newsweek’ admits, are arguing, “we are not sure the allies are willing to back us all the way this time. Sure, they have promised but is it worth it to them” ( I December 1958). There is not much doubt that the West can stand firm in Berlin, perhaps as firm as it could ten years before, but that would mean, warns Paul Johnson, that “we must recognize that we are abandoning, perhaps for ever, the hope of reunifying Germany (New Statesman, 29 November 1958).

To consolidate their respective positions in the spheres of their influence, USA created NATO and SEATO. On the other hand, not to be left, USSR took strong action against dissenting communist countries like Yugoslavia and Hungary. Soviet intervention in Hungary was very cruel. It led to the execution of Imrey Nagy and his cabinet colleagues. There was hue and cry against Soviet activities in socialist Hungary. In retaliation, USA landed marines in Lebanon and British paratroops occupied Jordan.

USA despite being on the other side of Atlantic and despite the professing of Munro Doctrine got scared of USSR attack as is evident from American expert on diplomacy and world affairs Mr. George Kenan’s remarks on 2 December 1957 on BBC.

“I have never thought that the Soviet Government wanted a general world war at any time since 1945 or that it would have been inclined for any rational political reasons of its own to initiate such a war, even had the atomic weapon never been invented. We must get over the obsession that the Russians are yearning to attack and occupy western Europe and this is the outstanding danger.”

My both articles viz Quemoy in world politics as well as significance of Berlin crises are based on the cold war, American fears of USSR because of defeat in China and soviet fears of Americans intervention in Yugoslavia and Hungary as well as in Berlin and German area under USSR occupation after the end of second world war. This brief review of cold war is based on these observations.

August 24, 2009 Posted by | Cold War, USA, USSR, World, World History | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment