“Mr.Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” exclaimed U.S. President Ronald Reagan.
Fifty-six years ago, a historic event took place as a consequence of the Cold War–the construction of the Berlin Wall. The Berlin Wall physically divided Berlin, the only border that connected East and West Germany, into two distinct regions of a continent, which ideologically signified the separation between Eastern and Western Europe. Although the German Democratic Republic (GDR) claimed the Berlin Wall as the Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart.
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The East is dominated by the Communist USSR, and the West is dominated by the Capitalist Allies, including Britain, France and their friend in North America, the United States of America. The Berlin Wall tore families apart, caused many to lose their employment and security and alienated the East to entirely break contact with the West. What triggered the leader of the USSR, Nikita Khrushchev, to authorize the German Democratic Republic (GDR) to build the Berlin Wall in 1961? Evidence points to the economic disparity and the political turmoil, as contributing factors to the appearance of the Berlin Wall. One of the economic disparities contributed to the formation of the Berlin Wall is the flood of immigrants from East Germany. The economy barrier between East Germany and West Germany drove East Germans that were well educated moved to the West to work, while, many East Germans who suffered from the suppression by the Communist party and the shortages of housing, food, and health tried to escape from the East. Many were dissatisfied with the Socialist economic conditions in East Germany, where everyone shared the same salary and lifestyle, therefore, about 8,000 to 10,000 people would attempt to escape East Germany to West Germany every day by crossing Berlin, the only border that was opened in East. Furthermore, more than 100,000 easterners commuted to work in West Berlin on the East German-run S-Bahn urban railway and the U-Bahn subway. By 1961, 3.
5 million East Germans had fled to the West, which stood for 20 percent of the entire population. With that, East Germany suffered a large loss in their population, which damaged the credibility and the workforce of the German Democratic Republic (GDR). Without the workforce, there wouldn’t be people working in the factory supplying the nation with goods or office workers who would sustain the nation’s economy. And the skilled workers were all in the West, which made the GDR lose the brain of East Germany, who stands in an important role in the society. Highly skilled workers such as doctors, teachers, and engineers all fled to the West, leaving the poor economic back in East Germany.
The other economic disparity contributed to the formation of the Berlin Wall is the invention of the new currency in West Germany, the Deutsche Mark. The Deutsche Mark was introduced to West Germany to solve the problem that the black market had brought, which attempt to make the economy to collapse. Deutsche Mark favored people who owned property, and the value of the Deutsche Mark was extremely more than the original currency, the Reichsmark. The USSR saw the new currency as a threat to East Germany’s economic, therefore, the USSR responded to the new currency with the Berlin Blockade to force the Allies out from West Berlin, they were eager to occupy the only Capitalist Island on the land of East Germany. Nevertheless, they did not succeed. Airlifts sponsored by the Allies delivered the supplies for the West Berlin citizens for 11 months, until on May 12, 1949, the USSR pulled their forces from West Berlin.
It should have marked the end of the tensions between the Allies and the USSR, but it did not. The consequences of the Deutsche mark, the Berlin Blockade, sparked the fire that resulted in the Berlin Wall. The USSR saw the Berlin Blockade as one of their defeat to the Capitalism, so it hurt their pride. For the proud Soviets, it was unacceptable, the Berlin Blockade had further ignited the tensions between the Allies and the USSR.
The political factor contributed to the formation of the Berlin Wall is the diversity between the Communist and Capitalist ideology. Their conflict lasted for 44 years, both of them tried to get rid of each others’ ideology from their sides. East Germany occupied by the USSR was built on a socialist system both socially and economically. The East against the ideology of Capitalism, where private ownership is allowed. Under a socialist government, East Germany suffered from conditions such as low pay long hours, and fewer and poorer consumer goods, and they’ve been restricted to travel to West. In comparison with the West Germans, they were living in a terrible and harsh condition.
In 1946, German and Berlin were divided into four regions which were governed by the United States, Britain, France, and USSR. While the Allies strove to reconstruct West Germany, the USSR wanted Germany to demilitarized and to pay the war reparations to help the USSR to get back on its feet. As a result, East Germany suffered from descent in its economic conditions and a large fall in its population.
Meanwhile, as the West proposed from economic improvements, it also offered an economic inducement to skilled workers in East Germany to move to the West. East Germans were offered with interest-free loans, access to scarce apartments, immediate citizenship and compensation for property left behind, to relocate to the West. The offer from West given to the East was a great deal. Two region on the same continent located next to each other, yet there is a disparity in their lifestyle. The Soviets worried when the Easterners observed the type of lifestyle that the West was enjoying, the Easterners would begin to envy and yearn for the same for themselves.
By building a wall and totally secluding the two sides, this thinking could be avoided.In conclusion, the loss in Eastern population, the establishment of the new currency, and the diversity between two different ideologies led to the construction of the Berlin Wall. Many tried to escape from the East to reunion with their families or to live a better life. Casualties were made as people escaping to the West. The cause of the Berlin Wall was first, due to the declination of East Germany, many wished to improve their lifestyle, so they moved to the West, which reduced the workforce and skilled workers in East Germany, causing the economy of East Berlin to fall. Second, the creation of the new currency had led to the Berlin Blockade, which indicated the defeat of the USSR to the United States, for the Soviets, it was a predicament for them, it further burst the tension between the USSR and the United States.
Third, two discrete ideologies creating two distinct lifestyles, a fair share life in East Germany, where everyone shares the exact same lifestyle, and a partial life in West Germany, where private ownership is allowed in the West. People in the East would often look to the West, and envy for the kind of lifestyle that they were having, and questioned themselves why they couldn’t live like the Westerner. These three main factors led to the building of the Berlin Wall, the leader of the USSR, Nikita Khrushchev sees a wall as the only solution to end this dilemma, as a result, the Berlin Wall was built. The Berlin Wall would last half a century, until 1989, the protest movement grows to a point that the GDR government wouldn’t be able to ignore it, whose consequences the fall of the Berlin Wall.