Click image to enlarge X From left to right: The Berlin Wall overlay. This map of the Berlin Wall was saved as a file that specifies a set of features for display in Google Earth and subsequently overlaid on a Google Earth image of Berlin by the staff of the Map Room, Olin Library.
Map of the Berlin Wall, Showing Checkpoints.Checkpoints in blue are for Germans only, and those in red (the well-known Bravo and Charlie) -- for both Germans and non-Germans. Created by Chris O. for Wkimedia Commons on Jan. 26, 2005.
President John F. Kennedy at the Berlin Wall, June 26, 1963. Photo taken by Robert Knudsen. In the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston. Graffiti Art on the West Berlin Side of the Berlin Wall, 1986. The infamous "death strip" on the east side of the wall, here follows the curve of the long-closed Luisenstadt Canal. Photo taken by Thierry Noir at Bethaniendamm in Berlin-Kreuzberg. Wkimedia Commons. The Berlin Wall in 2010. Photo taken by the Olin Library Map & Geospatial Information Librarian. Berlin, Germany, 2010. All that's left from the Berlin Wall. Plaques like this indicate the location of the Berlin Wall. Photo taken by the Olin Library Map and Geospatial Information Librarian. Berlin, Germany, 2010.
Construction began on The Berlin Wall early in the morning of August 13, 1961. It was a desperate—and effective—move to stop East Berliners escaping from the Soviet-controlled East German state (the GDR) into the west of the city, which was then occupied by the Americans, British and French. By 1961 an estimated 1,500 people a day were fleeing East Berlin for the West, damaging both the credibility and more importantly, depleting the workforce of the GDR. In a masterfully planned operation spanning just 24
hours, Berlin streets were torn up, barricades erected, and tanks parked at
crucial locations designed to interrupt subway and railway services. Within a
day, West Berlin was completely sealed off from the eastern part of the city.
At the same time, inhabitants of East Berlin and the GDR were no longer allowed
to enter West Berlin, including about 60,000 commuters. The GDR claimed it had
raised the barricade as an “anti-fascist protection wall” to prevent a third
The “Wall” erected so dramatically in 1961 was in fact not a wall but 96 miles of barbed wire fencing. After it proved too easy to scale, work started in 1962 on a second fence parallel to the first, but 100 yards further in. The area between the two fences was an empty space that became known as the “death strip,” where many would-be escapees met their deaths. The strip was covered with raked gravel, where footprints were easy to
spot. As it offered no cover and was mined and booby-trapped, it was easy for
armed guards to follow instructions to shoot on sight. Even these measures were
deemed insufficient; a concrete wall was added in 1965. It served until 1975,
when the final and most sophisticated version of the Berlin Wall was
constructed. Built from 45,000 separate sections of reinforced concrete, each
unit was 3.6 m high, 1.5 m wide and topped with a smooth pipe intended to make
it more difficult to scale.
Despite various security measures, escape attempts were
commonplace, especially in the early years of the Berlin wall. Some 5,000 are
thought to have reached the other side. In its thirty-year history, about 100
people were shot dead attempting to escape East Berlin.