Forum: Security Council Issue: Berlin Wall Student Officers: Aspen Wang

Introduction to Topic and Committee
The Historical Security Council will be looking at a variety of issues that have happened in the past and has previously confronted the nations back then in the Security Council during the time period of such a crisis. The topics we will be looking at largely fall during the timer period of the Cold War. The focus of the committee is not only to diffuse the tension and impending nuclear conflict but also to strive for innovative ways in which to find better solutions to the event than the ones history has offered. The emphasis is to balance historical accuracy whilst striving for innovative solutions. That means historical accuracy is necessary up to the dates delineated in the timeline, but then delegates are not required to recreate the course of history when finding a solution after those dates.

Description of Issue
Constructed on August 13, 1961 until it was torn down on November 9, 1989, never has there been a more stark physical manifestation of the wide divide between Western liberal democracies and the Communist bloc. In a way, the Berlin Wall was the “iron curtain” that Winston Churchill had spoken about. The tenuous alliance that had held together the Soviet Union and other allied powers began to break down towards the end of WWII, evident in the eastern and western blocs that formed to divide much of Europe into camps of communism vs. democracies. Even the capital city of Berlin was divided: West Berlin became an “island of democracy”, as it was completely surrounded by portions of Germany occupied by the Soviets. The Berlin Wall, also known as the Berliner Mauer, separated West Germany (the Federal Republic of Germany) from East Germany (the German Democratic Republic). The differing socio economic conditions of the two Germanys after WWII encouraged many East Germans to migrate to the west. Concerned about the mass exodus from East Germany to West Germany, the Soviet Union on August 12 1961 ordered in construction workers and soldiers to create a wall separating the whole of East Germany from the west. Not only were walls constructed with barbwire, but telecommunication lines between the two Germanys were also severed. The fluid

border between the two Germanys no longer existed. Coupled with this action were the stringent anti-emigration policy and restriction of freedom of movement in East Germany. 1945 - Potsdam Agreement that separates Germany into zones 1948-49 - Berlin Blockade facilitated by Stalin in which food, material and resources could not enter into West Berlin, was responded to by the Berlin Airlift 1948 - Elections in West Berlin 1949 - The German Democratic Republic (East Germany) is declared, however it is granted limited administrative authority and not full autonomy 1950s-70s - "Economic Miracle" ("Wirtschaftswunder") in West Berlin and West Germany 1950s - Mass immigration from East Berlin to West Berlin, 187,000 in 1950; 165,000 in 1951; 182,000 in 1952; and 331,000 in 1953 1952 - Joseph Stalin meets with leaders in Moscow to discuss the emigration problem, formally closes inner German border 1956 - Nearly all travel to the west is restricted in East Germany, leading to 90% of emigration to occur within Berlin 1961 (August 1)- Telephone call between Khrushchev and Ulbricht on the issue of having a Berlin Wall 1961 (August 12) - Preliminary barriers and fences with barb wire are being erected, the National People’s Army and Combat Groups of the Working Class are present to shoot those that defect or try to cross the border. To facilitate monitoring and to make it harder for East Germans to escape, a no man’s land/buffer zone is set. 1961 (August 17) - The first concrete blocks are being placed to solidify the Berlin Wall.

Definitions of Key Terms:
Checkpoint Charlie - Where West Berlin and East Berlin were divided by the berlin wall. Brandenburg Gate –One of the significant and more notable gates on the Berlin wall

Detente - The easing of tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union. Four Power Agreement on Berlin - Also known as the Berlin Agreement signed in 1972 reaffirmed the rights and responsibilities of the four powers for the future of Berlin. Graffiti - Scribbles on Berlin Wall, often derogatory and insulting to the East German authority. Eastern Bloc - A phrase used to describe the Eastern European nations allied with the Soviet Union during the Cold War, mostly belonging to the Warsaw Pact. Berlin Airlift - The USA led an effort by Western countries to supply West Berlin with food and other supplies to break the blockage put up by the Soviet Union. Marshall Plan - An American program to help the Europeans to rebuild their economy after the Second World War.

Positions of Key Member Nations and Other Bodies on the Issue
Ideologically Western/Democratic states (NATO): Post WWII, USA, the UK, France, Japan and West Germany typically had very strong political ties and agreements. Such countries have also generally championed democracy, human rights and western liberal ideals, although to varying degrees in different points of time and also depending on the domestic pendulum swings to different parties. At the height of the cold war, US was seen to be given the lead role in opposing the growing USSR due to the supposed decline in power as stated by the UK and the need for a reconstruction time period for France after the great war. Ideologically Soviet leaning: It would seem as though there are not as many countries that lean towards the USSR, however that is because many of them were simply absorbed by the USSR. In terms of land mass, the communist bloc was bigger than the western bloc. However it is important to notice that within many of these blocs were small pockets of dissent (Czechoslovakia) and also some countries, although communist, did not necessarily buy into the same strain of communism that USSR proposed. One such country being the People’s Republic of China, which although had stronger tendencies towards the Soviet Union had a series of fallout between their two leaders in the formation of the Communist Party in China.

Other blocs There are also a series of countries, such as Cuba, Cyprus, Iran, Ghana fearing the excessive influences of one superpower, those countries would pander to the other superpower and playoff the two to its own benefit rather than for the purposes of truly aligned political ideology. NATO North Atlantic treaty organization was formed in April 1949. Ten European nations, Canada, and the US formed this organization which was a mutual defense pact WARSAW Pact A pact formed by the Soviet Union and its satellites in 1955, seen by many historians as a direct response to the formation of NATO.

Main Issues
The first issue has to do with the stark contrast between the socioeconomic systems of the two Germanys. West Germany operates as a free market economy, whereas East Germany follows the soviet system of planned economy. The capitalistic market system allowed investments to pour into West Germany and to stimulate its economy. However the concessions arising from WWII have put East Germany in a position to be exploited by the Soviet Union; furthermore, the restrictive laws did not make East Germany the most attractive market for revitalization. Thus the UN must cope with the differing living standards and quality of life for the two sides and find a way to make unification of the two Germanys possible. Another issue directly stemming from such economic differences is migration and the mutability of borders. Once certain borders have been decided, neighboring countries need to respond appropriately to legal and illegal immigration in terms of enforcement and respecting borders. It is crucial to understand that the domestic policies of such countries concerning immigration may have a huge impact in the international realm. The discrepancy in socio-political freedoms in the two Germanys has also resulted in a brain drain from East Germany to the West. In 1958, the central committee reported that there was a 50% increase in the number of intellectuals emigrating from East Germany. Emigration for East Germany not only poses a labor issues, but also reduces the percentage of the population that are well educated, with an estimated 22.5 billion marks lost in education investment.

In addition, an issue that resulted from the Berlin Wall is the ensuing social disaster and familial separation. Not only were many families split, but also many East Berliners lost their employment which used to be in the West. Isolated from the world, East Germany’s economy unnecessarily suffered even more with unemployment, lack of stable economic infrastructure and a loss of talent. This led to a myriad of issues, such as dealing with the dual currency and a very active black market. Countries must also deal with the deaths that resulted from attempted escapees. The larger issues at hand here is that the Berlin Wall violated postwar Potsdam Agreements. Flouting international agreements to such a large extent provides a dangerous slippery slope for the obligations countries are bound by and the reality in which they hold up their end of the bargain. The initial reluctance of other countries in responding to the Wall and viewing it more as a domestic affair underscores the dangers of unchecked policing powers of certain nation over other countries, impinging upon the very sovereignty the UN charter holds dear. It is also necessary for countries to consider the implications of such a wall in cementing the control of a totalitarian state or communist ideology in Germany as a reactionary response to fascism. In terms of a public relations gesture, the nuances of propaganda and symbolism emerge to become important characteristics of the Berlin Wall.

Questions for debate
When drafting resolutions, delegates need to keep in mind the character of the separation that the Berlin Wall provided. Was it merely a physical separation, or was it also a symbolic separation with socio-economic ramifications? By understanding such nuances and the discrepancies that may have evolved over time between East and West Germany, delegates can better facilitate reunification of the two states. A natural extension to assimilation of the two states would be the issue of long-term stable socioeconomic development. Delegations must find answers to the issue of a brain drain and offer Germany a solutions pertaining to the sustainability of the economy. Delegates may also realize that in this case, military superiority, even nuclear weapons, may not be able to solve the crisis. Instead better diplomacy may be the key in which delegations are clear on their interests, leaving no room for misinterpretation, and advocating an open platform for discourse to lessen mistrust. Likewise it is important in such situations to give leeway or room for opposing nations to back down without losing face, a compromise that gives a gracious retreat or good terms for the other parties.

Maintaining international order at a certain standard is integral to upholding the legitimacy of international law as well. Delegations are expected to examine the importance of borders and the role they play in the makeup of certain nation states when these borders become more porous and what should the UN’s role be under such circumstances, whether it is to increase the fluidity of such borders or to advocate stricter border control. This question is furthermore influenced by the humanitarian element and the balance between advancing the humanitarian platform and respecting sovereignty that the UN has always struggled to balance.

Further Reading:,29307,1631993_1383208,00.html


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