Every schoolchild knows who created the Berlin Wall and the reasons for its construction. This edifice served as more than simply a partition between East Germany and West Germany; it also contributed to the division of the German people. The wall created a sharp division between the two halves of the whole planet. It emerged as the most significant symbol of the cold war.
For decades, a certain heap of concrete and iron ruined lives, tore apart families, and even took some people’s lives. The Germans continue to feel embarrassed that this hurdle harbors such shameful secrets. Further on in this article, we will discuss what the Berlin Wall, which was built in one night, hides inside itself and why it was not destroyed completely.
The wall that divided the world
A few days ago marked the anniversary of the beginning of the building of the Berlin Wall, which is widely regarded as one of the most shameful events to have taken place in the history of the 20th century. The goals that the Allied powers had in mind after beating Nazi Germany in World War II were not hard to deduce and understand. It was necessary to put as much pressure as possible on the fascist hydra to ensure it would never rear its head again. It did not appear nearly as aesthetically pleasing as it did in my head. The only thing that changed was how the superpowers divided their spheres of influence, resulting in many decades of financial hardship for many Germans.
The wall not only divided the nation and its population in two but also ruined the lives and futures of countless families. Official statistics in the GDR indicate that 125 persons lost their lives while attempting to defect to the opposing side. Several hundred are indicated by some of the information originating from the FRG.
The Berlin Wall has become the Cold War’s most important and famous symbol. Among other things, August 13, 1961, became a new starting point in German history. Before the construction of this structure, more than two million people left East Germany. The outflow of young people and the intellectual elite forced the government of the GDR to take tough measures.
The Berlin Wall was built overnight. One hundred and sixty kilometers of concrete and barbed wire could not stop those who chose a different path for themselves in this life. The escapes continued. Many of them were successful, but some ended in tragedy.
The escape of Konrad Schumann
Konrad Schumann became a symbol of the struggle of people in East Germany for freedom of choice. An East German soldier named Konrad Schumann makes a desperate wall jump. This was the first escape from the GDR to the FRG. After that day, tens of thousands of people will follow his example. Some crossed the border on foot, hid in cars, and built aircraft and underwater vehicles. Most fled from East Germany under the wall, through secret underground tunnels.
The topic of hidden underground tunnels in Berlin will be covered thoroughly during the expedition. It all begins in a secret bunker under the Gesundbrunnen metro station. This is the beginning of the exhibition’s first section. The second location involves the basement of one of the homes on Bernauer Strasse. It was here that would-be fugitives often attempted to build tunnels. Initially, individuals would use the accessible loopholes, which were just sewage tunnels and subways. After that, the government took every measure possible to make these routes unavailable. It was physically impossible to run along the huge iron bars with their sharp edges.
The underground sewer was blocked with beams and gratings, and an alarm system was installed there. All these buildings were very carefully guarded. The tunnels were constantly patrolled. True, not all of these patrols sometimes returned … Fourteen years after the construction of the Berlin Wall, criminal liability was introduced for attempting to cross it. Despite all the tough measures taken, the number of those wishing to overcome the obstacle did not decrease but, on the contrary, only grew.
People began to dig underground passages under the wall themselves. Official data speaks of the presence of four dozen such artificial tunnels, and some say there were more than sixty. The most famous was the tunnel, now called “Tunnel 57”. It got its name because 57 people crossed the border in one night. Perhaps there would have been more, but this was reported to the MGB.
They successfully dug an underground tunnel known as “Tunnel 27,” which is exceptionally deep and long. This tunnel was dug to get over the Berlin Wall. Its length is over one hundred and fifty meters, and its depth is more than a dozen meters. Its width is also greater than a dozen meters. They dug it from both the front and the back. One hundred twenty people were able to access this hidden route. The building of this underground tunnel required the expertise of approximately forty professional engineers, making it a unique and magnificent structure.
Several students who escaped from East Berlin decided to help their compatriots on the other side. They started digging the tunnel. It was difficult to work not only physically, but having dug 12 meters deep, the guys were completely exhausted. It was also extremely dangerous. West Berlin of those times was teeming with Stasi agents, and this activity could end very badly for young people. In addition to the fact that there were not enough workers, the students were in desperate need of finances. Help came from a completely unexpected source across the Atlantic.
TV producer in New York called Reuven Frank had an excellent idea: he chose to produce a film about the escape from the GDR in real-time. Frank had a brilliant idea, and this had the potential to bring about a bona fide revolution in the world of television news. He contacted a person who collected money for kids and offered his assistance. Frank paid in full for all of the equipment, including the participation of the appropriate professionals, and in exchange, he was granted the only right to film and publish all of the contents. In little over a month and a half, brave adventurers made it to the Berlin Wall. Now everything became more difficult because patrols continuously moved from the other side. They gathered information about the environment using specialized acoustic equipment, which they placed on the ground and then listened to. When the source of the suspicious sounds was found, machine guns were used to shoot at it, or explosives were thrown at it.
Today everyone knows that brave students achieved their goals. This tunnel has helped hundreds of people reunite with their loved ones or start living again where they wanted to. Of course, the Stasi secret move was quickly exposed, and many were captured and convicted. Experienced diggers dug another tunnel, and more than one documentary film has been made about all these events.
Berlin Wall Today
Visitors are met with a statue of Konrad Schumann jumping over the barbed wire as they approach the entrance of the Berlin Dungeon branch on Bernauer Strasse today. The memorial and documentary information centre of the Berlin Wall (also known as the Gedenkstatte Berliner Mauer) is not too far away from this location. They are dedicated to this dark period in German history, known as the Cold War when Germans were classified as either “us” or “enemy,” and the book is named after this era.
The Berlin Wall has come to represent the struggle endured by the German people. Fight for your freedom, your right to choose, and your right to choose your fate. Freedom is worth fighting for. To prevent a situation similar to the one that occurred in the past from occurring again in the future, the authorities in Germany do not let the German people forget about the dark period in their history. It is expected for descendants to remember and learn from the mistakes made by their predecessors. The history has to be preserved.