50 Years Ago The Berlin Wall Is Built

It has been gone for a few years now of course.

I am wondering what even inspired the construction of the thing. People were always going to try and circumvent it- see it as a challenge.

Was it just one upmanship in Communism versus anyone else?

The Communists touted within East Berlin as a bulwark against fascism, but of course the traffic was always going the other way.

How can you have a workers paradise if the workers are all attempting to leave, so you have to turn the country into a prison for their own good.

No; it was just that more and more people left. That’s what happened all over the Warsaw Pact; defenses were built to keep people from leaving. It was just the most dramatic in Berlin because the city was divided.

That’s the Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart to you, Schweinhund! If it wasn’t there everyone would be trying to get into the glorious DDR.

I lived in Berlin while the Wall was still up and heard many of the stories.
I used to go over to East Berlin almost every weekend when I first moved there, simply for financial reasons; I was young and new to the city and had little money. In the East, I could exchange West money on the black market at 5 to 1, and partied nicely in the East at the bars and restaurants. Eventually I made quite a few friends over there and went to lots of their parties at home and even had a long term relationship with a guy I met there.
The East Berliners hated the Wall - official party rhetoric was that the Wall was designed to keep the riffraff out, but nobody believed it and knew it was to keep them in. The border guards were humorless thugs, and going across the border to the East made US airport security today seem like Hawaiians greeting you with leis. They would search everything and make comments about everything and treat you like you were a criminal. Not pleasant, and often it could take hours just to get through - I think the worst was a 4 hour wait just to get to the front of the line to be searched.
I knew some who had escaped to the West, I met some in the East who were arrested for trying to sneak over to the West and spent time in prison. Lots and lots of stories that would take too long to relate, but it was quite the experience.
Shortly before the Wall came down, I remember speaking with a class of West Germans, asking them if they ever thought the Berlin Wall would come down. The most optimistic of them said in 10 years, but most thought not in their lifetime.
Needless to say, they were all (happily) wrong.
The scars are still there. Even today, years after the Wall has been removed, there is still an East/West mentality, and older West Germans make fun of/complain about those East Germans, and many East Germans still sort of long for the good old days when everything was cheaper and life was slower paced, and complaining about the snooty West Germans. This is dissipating, and the younger generation doesn’t have those same viewpoints - but if you travel to Germany, especially to Berlin, it is still easy to see and feel a difference when going to parts of old East Berlin.

It’s amazing, isn’t it? The Wall has been down almost as long as it was up. Time marches on, I suppose.

I was in 8th Grade when it happened, and I was undoubtedly more politically aware than the rest of my classmates in my own naive way. It came as a shock to me. I thought Germany was destined to be divided forever, I thought the Soviet Union was the Evil Empire that everybody said it was, and I thought there was no way that we would ever be rid of the Cold War, which had been a fact for my entire life. When the Wall came down it was indicative of the collapse of everything I had known about politics. For the people that lived in Berlin it must have been a joyful day, but they’re still struggling with the aftermath, as are we in the United States. It’s not every day you can actually see history change, and the construction of the wall and its dismantling are two such days.

DMark- that sounds so interesting.

There are so many dopers who have had far more exciting lives than myself.

Airman Doors, I am afraid I read ypur post as you being in 8th grade when the wall was built! I’m pretty sure you meant when it came down :slight_smile: