1961: The Berlin Wall

The Berlin Wall's construction began on August 13th 1961 by the German Democratic Republic (East Germany– controlled by the Soviets) to prevent East Berliners from fleeing to West Berlin, which was part of the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany– the US, UK and French zones).

Why was the Berlin Wall built?

East German authorities claimed that the Wall was built to protect their citizens from Western aggression and to prevent the flow of Western spies. Moreover, West Berlin was used as a headquarters for Western governments to spy on Eastern Europe and the USSR. 

Checkpoint Charlie (right) was perhaps the most famous border crossing between East and West Berlin. 

Additionally, most historians observe that other (more) legitimate reasons were that...

The Berlin Wall consisted of concrete walls, guard towers, barbed wire, and minefields, and ran for about 155 kilometres (96 miles) through the heart of Berlin, splitting neighbourhoods, streets, and even households.

The Wall came to symbolise the Cold War between the East and the West, Soviet secrecy and the division of Germany. Countless attempts to escape were made, but few were successful as East German border guards were ordered to shoot on sight.

As the Soviet grip weakened, there were weeks of peaceful protests and pressure from the East German people for greater political freedoms and economic reforms leading up to the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The Berlin Wall finally fell on November 9th 1989 after East German authorities announced that citizens could freely cross into West Berlin. 

The fall of the Berlin Wall symbolised the end of the Cold War in Europe and German reunification by 1991. It also marked the collapse of the Soviet Union and Russia's transition away from Communism

This video shows the heavily fortified system of the 155-km-long Berlin Wall. 

Attribution: ZDF/ Terra X/ History Media / Jörg Müllner / Kawom! Wiesbaden u.Till Nowak, frameboxOriginal video link: https://rodlzdf-a.akamaihd.net/none/zdf/20/05/200511_200_43700620_Mauerbau_CC_tex/1/200511_200_43700620_Mauerbau_CC_tex_3360k_p36v15.mp4 

Did the Berlin Wall reduce Cold War tensions?

Successfully reduced Cold War tensions:

Failed to reduce Cold War tensions:

The Legacy of the Berlin Wall

Parts of the Berlin Wall remain standing today and are a stark reminder of the separation between East and West Berlin that lasted for 28 years. 

The photo on the left was taken by me at the 'East Side Gallery' in Berlin. It was taken on the 'East Berlin' side of the Spree River which served as a boundary between East and West Berlin.