On 13 August 1961, communist East Germany built a wall in the dead of night and for 28 years kept East Germans from fleeing to the West. The wall stood as a symbol of the Cold War until it was opened on 9 November 1989 by the East Germans.
At the end of World War II, the Allied powers divided conquered Germany into four zones, each occupied by either the United States, Great Britain, France, or the Soviet Union. The same was done with Germany's capital city, Berlin.
In 1949, the three zones occupied by the United States, Great Britain, and France combined to form West Germany (the Federal Republic of Germany). The zone occupied by the Soviet Union formed East Germany (the German Democratic Republic).
This same division into West and East occurred in Berlin, a major city in Germany, located located in East Germany. The split of Berlin resulted in an island in the midst of the sea of East Germany.
Living conditions in West Germany and East Germany became distinctly different with Germans living in the West being better off. By the late 1950s, many people living in East Germany wanted out. Over 2.5 million people emigrated from the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) to Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany).
Having already lost 2.5 million people by 1961, East Germany desperately needed to stop this mass exodus. Desperate to keep its citizens, East Germany decided to build a wall to prevent them from crossing the border.
Just past midnight on the night of 12-13 August 1961, the Berlin Wall was built around West Berlin
The Berlin Wall stretched over a hundred miles. It ran not only through the center of Berlin, but also wrapped around West Berlin, entirely cutting West Berlin off from the rest of East Germany.
The Berlin Wall shut off access to West Berlin for East Germans. It also made it difficult for people to get out of West Berlin. The wall was heavily guarded and around hundred people were killed and many more were seriously wounded trying to cross the wall. The last person to be killed was Chris Gueffroy on the 2nd June, 1989.