Berlin Wall, the night a world collapsed: thirty years after the Fall that changed history


The "death strip" The train of history passed at full speed through what are now wrecked ruins, but which until the day before were considered the "strip of death". Thus it was called the fortified frontier, formed by two parallel walls of reinforced concrete and a few tens of meters wide, which divided East Berlin from West Berlin, Communism from Capitalism. In its time the Wall represented the most ghostly and lethal construction carried out in the West. The 302 watch towers, now incorporated by the urban panorama, did not leave the escapees for escape: to climb over the Wall meant to receive a bullet in the back. In the space of a step, a better society could be accessed. This was what the more than 200 people who died trying to do that step thought.

The night when everything exchangeThe symbolic action German reunification, which was formally concluded on 3 October 1990, had been prepared and heralded by the summer escapes of eastern Germans through Hungary and Czechoslovakia. But also, on October 18, from the resignation of the leader of the GDR, Erich Honecker, who still in January had vainly advocated "one hundred years of the Wall" Not only. The opening of the borders between Austria and Hungary, which had opened a lethal passage in the Iron Curtain, made the existence of the Berlin Wall, which had constituted the symbol of that curtain, useless.

The announcement of the 19 and the "river" of Berlin In Berlin it is almost 7pm when the DDR government spokesman, Guenter Schabowski, convenes a press conference to announce: the Wall can be crossed. In the space of an hour, tens of thousands of East Berliners go to the border. The guards, taken by surprise by such a massive influx, raise the red and white bars allowing everyone to pass without checks. After all, resisting the river of the people would have been impossible. The most astonished and helpless of all were the Vopos, the police officers of the people who for almost thirty years had shot at anyone who tried to climb the Wall and who had been more or less directly responsible for the death of at least 140 fugitives only in Berlin.

Germany is Germany again The hour had struck. That night the Berliners celebrated between pickpockets and hugs. The first gaps in the blocks began to bleed people, greeted by applause from their fellow citizens of the West. After decades of division, many could finally be reunited with their relatives. Many young people saw places they had only heard of, as in the bedtime stories. And then torchlight processions, screams, toasts and waving German flags. The newspapers had already prepared the title which they could not wait to print: "Berlin is Berlin again".

But when and why was the Wall built? The idea of ​​dividing Berlin into spheres of superpower influence dates back to 1945, just before the end of the Second World War. The city would be fragmented into four sectors controlled and administered by the Soviet Union, the United States of America, the United Kingdom and France. The Soviet one was the largest quadrant. It was clear: the city and the world were playing East and West. Never before was it clear how much Germany was the heart of Europe and the planet, geographically and politically.

Militarized barrier Initially the citizens of Berlin were allowed to move freely in all sectors, but with the development of the Cold War the movements were limited. The border between East Germany and West Germany was closed in 1952. The resulting migratory river was overflowing: around 2.6 million East Germans passed to the west between 1949 and 1961. To stop such an exodus, the regime Communist began the construction of a wall around the three western sectors, on the night between 12 and 13 August 1961. The next morning the troops of the Kampfgruppen already guard the border line.

Germany divided, united Europe It may seem a paradox, but the division of Germany took steps together with the first processes of unification of Europe. Faced with the two superpowers, the United States and the USSR, the Old Continent had no choice but to continue to have its say on the world stage. On March 25, 1957, only four years before the construction of the wall, the Treaty of Rome was established which established the EEC.

These were extremely difficult and complicated years, but they forged the European consciousness as perhaps never before. There isn't much left of the Berlin Wall today. In November 1989, just one month after the "Fall", the entire wall inside the city had been torn down except for six points that were kept as a monument. A monument to the forces that resist divisions. And that eventually breaks them with a hug.

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