Berlin Wall

B Wall Graffitti FixedGrafitti on remaining section of wall. 20 Anniversary of the fall – 2011

(Click to enlarge)

Construction of the Berlin Wall began on this date – 1961. After World War II. Berlin lay completely within Soviet territory, but it was also divided. Soviet forces controlled the eastern part of the city and the country, and they were increasingly concerned about locking it down against the democratic West. The border was porous after the war, and millions of East Germans immigrated west in search of greater opportunities. By 1961, they were leaving at a rate of a thousand per day.

In the early hours of August 13, 1961, East German soldiers quietly began laying down barbed wire inside the border of East Berlin. People woke up and discovered that they had been separated from families and jobs, with no advance warning. And two days later, on this date, the government of East Germany began to replace the wire with a six-foot block wall. People still tried to escape, even after the wall was raised to ten feet. About half of them made it. West Germany wanted the United States to do something, but President Kennedy was reluctant to act. He told his staff, “It’s not a very nice solution, but a wall is a hell of a lot better than a war.”

Finally, in 1989, with the end of the Cold War, the gates between East and West Berlin were opened again. Over the next year, souvenir hunters known as Mauerspechte, or “Wallpeckers,” began chipping away at the wall, knocking off blocks with sledgehammers and climbing back and forth over it. The wall was formally dismantled, and Germany reunified, in 1990.


About Bruce Louis Dodson

Bruce Louis Dodson is an American expat now living in Borlänge, Sweden with his wife, cat and dog. He is an artist and world traveler who writes fiction and poetry and practices photography in his less than copious free time. His work has appeared in: Barely South Review - Boundaries Issue, Blue Collar Review, Pulsar Poetry (UK), Foliate Oak, Breadline Press West Coast Anthology . The E-buffet, Qarrtsiluni, Struggle Magazine, Pearl Literary Magazine, Contemporary Literature Review: India, 3rd Wednesday, Sleeping Cat Books - Trip of a Lifetime Anthology, Northern Liberties Review, Authors Abroad - Foreign & and Far Away Anthology, The Path, Page & Spine, The Crucible, Sleeping Cat Books -Trips of a Lifetime, Vine Leaves, Pirene's Fountain,Tic Toc Anthology - Kind of a Hurricane Press, Cordite Poetry Review, Buffalo Almanac and mgv2.
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10 Responses to Berlin Wall

  1. A fine reminder, Bruce

    Thank You


  2. ShimonZ says:

    Yes, when they put up the wall… that seems very long ago, I remember those years when the wall was up, I had some communist friends who used to complain about capitalism all the time then. And we were socialists here. And I used to ask them… ‘but which way do they risk their lives to cross the wall in Berlin?’ That wall was a great advertisement for the west.

  3. Chris says:

    I remember the news of the wall coming down, and the glee, the images of the Mauerspechte breaking it down piece by piece. Such exciting news! I was working on a BA in German Studies at the time.

    • Do you speak German now? Where were you studying?

      • Chris says:

        I do, though I need to use it more. I’m less fluent than I once was. McGill, but I spent a couple of months at Freiburg Uni as well, on a scholarship. That was wonderful, but not long enough. Do you speak German?

      • @ Chris.
        No. I’ve been trying to learn Swedish for the last 2 years.
        I am not good at languages. Have attempted German, Spanish, Japanese, and Italian at different times of my life. Never with much success.
        I’m so impressed by those who are able to do it!

      • Chris says:

        I’ve been under the impression that you are doing quite well with Swedish. Trouble with languages is that as soon as you stop using one, you regress in that language. I’ve lost the ability to communicate in two languages–was fluent in Spanish and could get along quite nicely in Twi. As a kid, I thought I could just learn a language and move on to the next. I wish that were true!

      • @ Chris

        I’m going to low side of ‘fair’ with Swedish. I can tell what time it is, or that my wife will be home in three hours. Very simple stuff. You can get along easily with English here, that’s what makes it so hard to learn Swedish. The Somali people coming in here need to learn it in a hurry, as not many Swedes speak Arabic. Funny you mention having ability in one language and the other kind of slipping away.
        I can see that in my wife, who is Swedish but spent 14 years in the States and could speak perfect English before she arrived. She’s talking lots more Swedish than English now, and I start to see funny things happening with her syntax.

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