The Creation of the Berlin Wall
The end of World War II triggered the start of the Cold War. The victors of WWII, The United States, Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union divided Germany and Berlin into four. The United States, Great Britain, and France were all capitalist and democratic, and the Soviet Union was communist. The United States, Great Britain, and France all were part of the same “team.” The Soviet Union, however, wanted nothing to do with the others, so they decided to build a wall around their sector to keep the others out and their people in. (Divided In Unity 87).
The Berlin Wall went up in the middle of the night, 2 a.m. on August 13, 1961. It was, at first a low barbed wire fence, and then workers used cement to construct a permanent structure that was 96 feet long, and about 12 feet high. (Kelly 1). Travel between east and west was nearly impossible due to the restrictions. There were 14,000 guards, 600 dogs, and approximately 302 watchtowers were placed to make sure that no one from the East escaped to the West. (The Wall).
The Soviet Union had complete control over what went on in the Eastern sector. They had taken control of the only radio tower, and they decided what was broadcasted over it. It was a crime to listen to broadcasts from the West. (Kelly 2). And the newspapers that were produced in the East, the government had complete control over what was published in them: “Newspapers are the written voice of the state. Reporters do not launch independent investigation or expose government corruption. Journalists are more like secretaries, reporting what they are told, and nothing more.” (Kelly 4).
People that were prisoners in the East yearned for the freedom that people had in the West. About 10,000 people tried escaping, around 5,000 made it, roughly 3,200 were jailed, and approximately 200 were killed and 200 injured from shootings at the Wall. One man, Peter Fechter who was an 18-year-old bricklayer, was shot while he was trying to escape, the guards wouldn’t let anyone help him, so he bleed to death. (Kelly 2). He ended up becoming a symbol of everyone killed at the Wall. People risked everything to get to the West, escaping over, through, and under the Berlin Wall.
There were some pretty amazing ways that people found to escape. Kelly at The Freedom Forum, writes that, the Wetzel’s and Strizyck's bought little pieces of cloth very slowly so they didn’t raise any suspicion, and when they had enough, they pieced it together to form a hot air balloon. They had just enough fuel to make it over to the West side, which took them a few hours. Because of this escape, the purchase of lightweight cloth was very strictly controlled. Other people that went over, a team of young mechanics made ladders that used pulleys and ropes, went over the wall without touching it, and two other men, used a bow to shoot a cable over, then they attached pulleys and did the 65 feet to get to the other...