East Berlin to West Berlin- The 3.6 Metre journey that took decades to finish.

BerlinWall-58a5f8bd3df78c345b549131

When we hear the stories of Berlin wall, we don’t often realize that basically the dimensions weren’t that great, and it is often forgotten that it was actually West Berlin that was surrounded by the wall and not East Berlin.

Berlin-wall-map_en.svg

The height of the wall was 3.6 Metres (11.8ft). On August 13 1961 the works to build the wall started.

In November 1989 the wall came down. So for 28 years the people from Berlin were divided by a 3.6m high wall. The collapse of the Eastern European communist regimes didn’t start in Germany though.

In May 1989 the Hungarian government began dismantling the electrified fence along its border with Austria (with Western TV crews present).

_45559552_hungaryborder466

in September, more than 13,000 East German tourists escaped through Hungary to Austria.This set up a chain of events. The Hungarians prevented many more East Germans from crossing the border and returned them to Budapest. These East Germans flooded the West German embassy and refused to return to East Germany.

Below are some pictures of the events of late 1989 when the people from East Berlin were finally free again to travel to the west which eventually resulted in Germany to be re-united and Berlin to become one city again.

People crossing Bronholmer Road to get to West Berlin.

By the time this photo was taken, the Soviet Ministry had already given out 10 million visas for travel and 17,500 permits to permanently emigrate from East Berlin.

$ (2)

A line of thousands make their way toward the Berlin Wall, ready to leave East Berlin.

$ (4)

East German ruling party spokesman Günter Schabowski announces that people can pass freely across the Berlin Wall.

Berlin. November 9, 1989

$ (5)

East German border guards demolish a section of the Berlin Wall.
November 11, 1989.
$ (6)

A worker tearing down a statue of Vladimir Lenin sneaks in a quick kick to its head.

Berlin, Germany. November 13, 1991.

$ (7)

Crowds in East Berlin help one another climb over the Berlin Wall and into the freedom of West Berlin.

November 1989.

$ (8)
Advertisements

The dismantling of Checkpoint Charlie

f4004136fa

During the Cold War, Berlin’s Checkpoint Charlie was one of the crossing points between West and East Berlin (and West and East Germany). It was operated by members of the U.S. military in the American Sector of the city.

Located by the Berlin Wall, which divided the German city during the Cold War, Checkpoint Charlie was at the junction of Friedrichstrasse with Zimmerstrasse and Mauerstrasse.

Checkpoint Charlie was dismantled on the 22nd of June, 1990, about seven months after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

abc_archive_WNBB2012A_wg

The checkpoint, marked by a beige-painted metal shack, was built on the Western side of Friedrichstrasse shortly after the Berlin wall was begun in 1961. The East German Communist Government, with Soviet approval, had designated Friedrichstrasse as the only crossing point between East and West Berlin for non-German vehicles and pedestrians.

It was the scene of a tense confrontation between Soviet and American tanks in October 1961, and later of successful and unsuccessful attempts by East Germans to escape to the West.

RETRO-BERLIN WALL-CHECKPOINT CHARLIE

On June 22, 1990 the guardhouse at Checkpoint Charlie was removed with great ceremony.
The former Allied guardhouse is now located in the Allied Museum.
A copy of the US Army guardhouse was errected on the original place on August 13, 2000

CHARLIE.

 

Ida Siekmann & Günter Litfin-The first two victims of the Berlin Wall.

2314479_orig

There were numerous deaths at the Berlin Wall, which stood as a barrier between West Berlin and East Germany from 13 August 1961 until 9 November 1989. Before the rise of the Berlin Wall in 1961, 3.5 million East Germans circumvented Eastern Bloc emigration restrictions, many by crossing over the border from East Berlin into West Berlin, from where they could then travel to West Germany and other Western European countries. Between 1961 and 1989, the Wall prevented almost all such emigration.

Ida Siekmann (23 August 1902 – 22 August 1961) was the first person to die at the Berlin Wall, only 9 days after the beginning of its construction.

Idasiekmannbz

Ida Siekmann was born in Gorken near Marienwerder (West Prussia) (now Górki, Kwidzyn County, Poland). She had moved to Berlin where she worked as a nurse, and lived at Bernauer Straße 48 in the center of Berlin.

Bernauer_Strasse_1973

As of August 1961, she was already a widow; it is not known when she was actually widowed.

After World War II, Berlin was divided in four Allied sectors. While the street and the sidewalk of the Bernauer Straße lay in the French sector of West Berlin,

Berlin, Bernauer Straße, Grenze

the frontage of the buildings on the southern side lay in the Soviet sector of East Berlin. Until 13 August 1961, the day the Berlin Wall was built, Siekmann crossed the sector’s border just by leaving her house.Her sister’s apartment was also in the French sector of West Berlin.

Immediately after the border between East and West Berlin was closed on 13 August 1961, numerous families and individuals from 50 Bernauer Straße addresses fled to the West. On 18 August 1961, Walter Ulbricht ordered the East German border troops to brick up the entrances and windows on the ground floor of the houses on the southern side of the street.

Berlin, Mauerbau, am Brandenburger Tor

Members of the Combat Groups of the Working Class and police controlled every person who tried to enter the houses and the residents were subject to rigid controls, even in the hallways.

Berlin, Mauerbau, Kampfgruppen, NVA, VP

Many residents of such tenements still fled to West Berlin: residents of the upper floors were often rescued by jumping-sheets of the West Berlin fire department. On 21 August, the entrance and windows of Bernauer Straße 48 were barred. In the early morning of 22 August, Siekmann, living on the fourth floor (by North American standards, third floor/dritter Stock/Obergeschoss by German standards), threw eiderdowns and some possessions down onto the street and jumped out of the window of her apartment before the firefighters were able to open the jumping-sheet.She fell on the pavement and was severely injured. Siekmann died shortly after on her way to the Lazarus Hospital, thus becoming the first casualty at the Berlin Wall.

Günter Litfin (19 January 1937 – 24 August 1961) was the second victim at the Berlin Wall, and the first to succumb to gunshots.

800px-2010-03-08-berlin-mauer-by-RalfR-04

A tailor from the borough of Weißensee, like his father, he was a member of the illegal local branch of the West German Christian Democrats. Litfin was already working in the West, near the Zoological Garden, and had already found a flat in the western part of the city. Even on 12 August, one day before the first barbed wire fences were built, he had driven to Charlottenburg with his brother, to furnish his new flat. His intention to escape East Germany was abruptly halted the next morning, as road blocks had already been built. Therefore, around 4pm on 24 August, he undertook the escape attempt that would prove fatal to him.

Starting from Humboldthafen, a small harbour in the River Spree, his plan was to swim through a small canal branching off from the river westwards. However, upon crossing the railway bridge that constituted the border, he was discovered by officers of the transportation police, and was ordered to swim back. He lifted his hands from the water and was then fired upon and mortally wounded.

800px-2010-03-20-mauer-berlin-by-RalfR-09

In memory of Günter Litfin as well as all other victims of the Wall, a memorial was installed in 1992. Additionally, a street in his home district of Weißensee was named after him. One of the crosses at the White Crosses memorial site next to the Reichstag building is devoted to him.