The Berlin Wall (German Berliner Mauer) was a physical barrier built by the German Democratic Republic (East German – socialist) during the Cold War, which surrounded all of West Berlin (capitalist), separating it from East Germany (socialist) including East Berlin. This wall, in addition to dividing the city of Berlin in half, symbolized the division of the world into two blocks or parts: Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), which was constituted by the capitalist countries headed by the United States; and the German Democratic Republic (RDA), constituted by the socialist countries under yoke of the Soviet regime. Built at dawn on August 13, 1961, it included 66.5 km of metal railing, 302 observation towers, 127 electrified metal nets with alarm and 255 runways for fierce guard dogs. This wall was patrolled by East German Socialist military with orders to shoot to kill (the celebrated Schießbefehl or “Order 101”) those who tried to escape, which caused the separation of tens of thousands of Berlin families.

The distinct and much longer German internal frontier marked the border between East Germany and West Germany. Both fronts came to symbolize the so-called “iron curtain” between Western Europe and the Eastern Bloc.

Prior to the construction of the Wall, 3.5 million East Germans had avoided the restrictions of Eastern Socialist emigration and fled to West Germany, many along the border between East and West Berlin. During its existence, between 1961 and 1989, the Wall almost stopped all emigration movements and separated East Germany from West Berlin by more than a quarter of a century.

During a revolutionary wave of liberation at the behest of Moscow that swept the Eastern Bloc, the East German government announced on November 9, 1989, after several weeks of civil unrest, that all GDR citizens could visit Capitalist West Germany and West Berlin. Crowds of East Germans climbed and crossed the Wall, joining the West Germans on the other side, in an atmosphere of celebration. Over the next few weeks, parts of the Wall were destroyed by euphoric audiences and souvenir hunters. Later industrial equipment was used to remove almost the whole of the structure. The fall of the Berlin Wall paved the way for the German reunification that was formally celebrated on October 3, 1990. Many also point to this moment as the end of the Cold War. The Berlin government encourages the visit of the collapsed wall, and has prepared the reconstruction of stretches of the wall. Besides the reconstruction of some stretches, the path that the wall made when erected was marked on the floor.

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