The story behind the Berlin Wall

By Allya Davidson
St. Therese of the Child Jesus School
Mississauga, Ontario

November ninth, 1999 marked the tenth anniversary of the Berlin Wall coming down in 1989 as depicted above. The event was a major monument in world history. Families reunited, barriers broken; But do any of us know the real story behind the wall? That's what I tried to find out.

The Berlin wall was built in 1961 by the Eastern Germans to separate the capitalists from the communists. There the wall stayed until November 9th 1989 when the Eastern officials announced to ease up on security in front of the wall. Previously, any suspicious-looking characters were shot when they approached the wall so they could not escape the freedom of the other side. At least 100 people were killed trying to cross from East Germany to West.


People from both sides of the wall helped to break it down and in 1990, The Republic of Germany was reunited. Some parts of the wall remain up and there is a museum and a shop on remaining pieces. Also, the most famous crossing point, checkpoint Charlie is still standing today.

But the story does not end there, because there is still the ongoing debate of communism vs. capitalism and both arguments are good ones, but I am not stating my opinion only the facts, you can decide for yourself which side if any you're on.

The root of the problem initially began in 1945, May 8th to be exact. Germany had just surrendered to the Allies, ending W.W.II and Germany was divided into four sections, each governed by a different country: Britain, France The US, and the Soviet Union. Then in 1948, The Soviet Union blocked Berlin in an attempt to get the other countries to pull out. The Allies had to airlift supplies for The people of Berlin until The Soviet Union backed down.

In 1949 the two German states were founded : The Federal Republic of Germany ( West Germany) and The German Democratic Republic ( East Germany), East Berlin was chosen as the capital for East Germany. On August 13 th 1961 East Germany sealed the border between east and west and commenced building the wall ( The wall was 166 kilometres long, cut through 194 street crossings and was over 4 metres high at border crossings). On November 9th, 1989 the wall was torn down and on October 3rd 1990 Germany officially reunited as a country.

It sounds like everything in Germany is solved but it's not. Since the reuniting unemployment has gone up and the standard of living has gone down. Some people think that they were better off when they were under communism because everyone had a job and always had enough food and could afford to travel. One 60-year-old glassblower said " I would like to retire now but I can't, I have to support my unemployed children, under communism this wouldn't be happening and I will always vote for communism." This does make a good case for communism but with this as with everything, there is a downside. If the government tells you to do something or move somewhere you can't do anything about it and your freedom of speech, choice etc. can be taken away. Also in communist countries, if a law is passed that you cannot go to a certain place or leave the country at all, you would have to obey these rules.

Capitalism on the other hand gives you freedom of choice, speech and if you want to move to another country, you can. However, in the example of Germany, East Germany had everyone working so everyone made money and could support themselves. Under a capitalist government, there is no one to find a new job for you except yourself.

It is up to you to decide what you think and I'd like to hear from you, please e-mail me at: