You are on page 1of 10

Running Head: The Berlin Wall 1

The Berlin Wall: A Review of Literature

Brenda Pacheco

The University of Texas at El Paso

The Berlin Wall 2


The Berlin Wall, an event in history that will be hard to forget for Berliners. It all started

in August 12, 1961, when the construction of the wall began and Berlin was divided into two

sections, the East and the West. Many families were separated and everybodys way of living

was about to take a huge turn. Most people dont realize how important this even was and are

barely figuring that out now that our former President of the United States wants to make a wall

dividing Mexico and the United States. The purpose of this literary review is to define the

situation from both the East and the West side of Berlin, the reasons why the wall was built and

taken down, and the cause and effect of the Berlin Wall.
The Berlin Wall 3

The Berlin Wall: A Review of Literature

Historical events are just that; historical. In other words, they belong to the past.

However, they seem to have a glimpse of renaissance where they slowly emerge from a cluster

of events that provoke certain decisions to be taken by those who assume their point of view is

the best for a nation. This is the case of the Berlin Wall, a wall that separated a nation into two

sectors. Its construction started in August 13, 1961 and stood still for almost thirty years and it

finally got demolished by those who opposed to such governmental aberration in November 9,

1989. Now, the building of a new wall, that would physically divide not a nation but two nations,

is up on the air. The ongoing issues in the United States of America due to our president, Mr.

Donald Trumps idea of building a wall that would separate Mexico and the United States, bring

to the present time the memories West Berlin went through when the Berlin Wall still existed.

1. What were some reasons why the Berlin Wall was built?

2. Why was the Berlin Wall taken down?

3. What were the effects after the Berlin Wall?

These questions will narrow the purpose of this literature review by providing the background of

some of the reasons why the wall was built, the reasons why it was taken down, and the cause

and effect of the Berlin Wall.

What were some reasons why the Berlin Wall was built?

To understand better what happened, the overall situation must be clear and known. In an

effort to stem the tide of refugees attempting to leave East Berlin, the communist government of

East Germany begins building the Berlin Wall to divide East and West Berlin. Construction of

the wall caused a short-term crisis in and came to symbolize the Cold War. (H, 2009)
The Berlin Wall 4

The main reason why many people seem to believe that the Wall was built was because

throughout the 1950s and into the early 1960s, thousands of people from East Berlin crossed

over into West Berlin to reunite with families and escape communist repression. To stop that

outflow, the government of East Germany, on the night of August 12, 1961, began to seal off all

points of entrance into West Berlin from East Berlin by stringing barbed wire and posting


One theory is that after WWII, Germany was split into four occupation zone: Soviet

Union in the East and the Americans, British, and French in the West. Until 1961, East Germans

could move freely between the East and the West. As time went on, the Eastern Government saw

that many people were fleeing to the West and to add to that more and more people left because

the Easts economy was failing. To the leaders of the East, building the wall was the only way to

keep people leaving to the West.

Source: Holloway, M. (n.d.). IF I ONLY HAD A TIME MACHINE. Retrieved March 02, 2017,

The Berlin Wall 5

Another theory was that the four administrative powers would leave a unified Germany to

itself. On the morning of May 2nd, 1945, a convoy of trucks rolled in from the east. They

brought several soviet political officers and some German communists who had been living in

exile in Moscow. One whose name was Walter Ulbricht. Later, Ulbricht entered Berlin. He had a

complete set of plans for the physical, industrial, and political reconstruction of an independent

East Germany along socialist lines, worked out by his own team in Moscow. On October 7th,

1949, the Soviet Zone formally declared itself an independent State: the DDR, German

Democratic Republic. This followed a manipulated vote in the People's Chamber, and a

Constitution was formulated for the new socialist nation. A vote was promised, but in reality East

Germans would have to wait forty years for it. Elections in East Germany became a farce;

citizens were required to vote under threat of denunciation and repression, and alternative

choices were there none. Thus East Germany produced time and again from 1950 to 1986

miracle voting results showed 98-99% participation and 99% had put "Yes" in favor of the single

party offering.

Why was the Berlin Wall taken down?

On November 9, 1989, the spokesman for East Berlins Communist Party announced a

change in his citys relations with the West. He said that citizens of the GDR were free to cross

the countrys borders. The first thing the East and the West Berliners did was to celebrate, drink

beer and champagne while they were chanting Tor auf! which means Open the gate!. (H,

2009) There were more than 2 million people from East Berlin that visited West Berlin that same

weekend. Some journalist even said that this was the greatest street party in the history of the

The Berlin Wall 6

After knowing that this was no joke and that they could actually cross the wall whenever

they wanted, people started using hammers and picks to knock away chunks of the wall. By

doing this they became known as the mauerspechte which means wall woodpeckers. After the

wall was gone, Berlin was united for the first time since 1945.

A Berliner spray-painted on a piece of the wall Only today is the war really over. Over

the next few weeks, euphoric people and souvenir hunters chipped away parts of the Wall. The

government later used industrial equipment to remove most of what was left. Many parts of the

wall are now for sale or located at different museums. The fall of the Berlin Wall paved the way

for German reunification and was formally concluded on October 3, 1990.

What were the effects after the Berlin Wall?

After having the wall dividing Berlin for such a long time, there were some things that

would change immediately after the wall was taken down. One of the main and most obvious

effects of the Berlin Wall, in the past and present is that Germany, after the wall fell, became one

reunified country. It also made Germany change from a communist party to a Federal

Parliamentary Republic. Another effect of the Berlin Wall was that after Germany was no longer

a communist country, other countries in Russia started to revolt against the communist


Now that the wall was finally taken down, things were about to change. It was like a way

to start over a completely different life. Berliners could now be self-employed, climb up the

social ladder, travel and enjoy foreign media. However, the good life was not going to be

immediate. Most employment in the East was through state owned organizations and when they

went from public to privet ownership after the reunification, job losses followed. Unemployment
The Berlin Wall 7

increased and the West Germans were growing bitter about having their taxes increased to

develop the former Eastern German economy. (A, 2016, June 08)

Source: Twenty-five years on. (2014, November 08). Retrieved March 04, 2017, from


From what we can see from these graphs, the Western states unemployment rate was not

as bad as the Eastern states. The peak of unemployment rate for the Eastern states occurred a

little bit after 2005 which was a few years after the Berlin Wall was taken down. It reached a

little more than 20 percent of unemployed people. The Western States, on the other hand, barely

reached more than 10 percent for unemployment rate. This occurred twice. One between the

years 1955 and 2000 and the second time between the years 2005 and 2007.

Current Event

The new president of the United States, Donald Trump, said that he wanted to build a

wall to divide Mexico and the United States. There are many people who do not agree with this
The Berlin Wall 8

and think that this will not work at all. According to the graph below, there were more people

who opposed the construction of the wall who voted in total. In fact, 59% of the voters were

against the wall and 38% were in favor. For the republican and the democrat side, most of the

democrats were opposed to the construction of the wall, while most republicans were in favor.

Source: McCarthy, N. (2016, April 07). Infographic: How Voters Feel About Trump's Border

Wall. Retrieved February 28, 2017, from



In conclusion, this literary review has analyzed copious amounts of data and has

answered many questions concerning the situation regarding the Berlin Wall and its way of

coming back in a different way to the present. The current situation is not something that we are
The Berlin Wall 9

certain about but there is a big probability that it can happen. Using the information and knowing

the causes and effects of what other walls around the world have done may help us overcome this

situation if it ever does happen. There will be many questions that will be left unanswered until

the actual event happens, if it happens. These type of events that are already in the past, help us

overcome what will happen in the future and it will also help us by being aware of certain

measures that we can take.


A. (2016, June 08). How Did the Fall of the Berlin Wall Effect the World? Retrieved March 05,

2017, from


2017, from


H. (2009). East Germany begins construction of the Berlin Wall. Retrieved March 02, 2017,



Holloway, M. (n.d.). IF I ONLY HAD A TIME MACHINE. Retrieved March 02, 2017, from

McCarthy, N. (2016, April 07). Infographic: How Voters Feel About Trump's Border Wall.

Retrieved February 28, 2017, from


The Berlin Wall. (n.d.). Retrieved March 03, 2017, from
The Berlin Wall 10

The Rise and Fall of the Berlin Wall. (n.d.). Retrieved March 03, 2017, from

Twenty-five years on. (2014, November 08). Retrieved March 04, 2017, from