Causes of the fall of the Berlin Wall

The fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989 is one of those iconic images that have gone down in history and have marked an entire generation. It not only meant the collapse of a physical barrier, but also symbolized the end of an era and the fall of an ideological and mental wall.

For almost 30 years, the wall that covered 120 kilometers and separated Berlin, was a border that divided brothers, neighbors and citizens, which separated two countries and two worlds. But if for three decades he remained immobile and unalterable, how could he fall?

Below in .com we explain the causes of the fall of the Berlin Wall .

Origin of the wall

The Berlin Wall was part of the border that separated the Democratic Republic of Germany (GDR) from the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), and by extension to the western block of the communist bloc, between 1961 and 1989. The official name that gave it the government of the GDR was the "wall of antifascist containment", however, between the press and Western public opinion was called as "the wall of shame."

Although the argument that was given during its construction was that it had to serve to protect federal Germany from fascist elements that could be installed in the new Soviet country, the reality is that the wall was raised to prevent the flight of the population of the East. towards western Germany.


Once the Second World War ended and after the Allied troops liberated Berlin from the regime established by Adolf Hitler, the soldiers who participated in the liberation settled in the German capital separating the city into four occupation zones controlled respectively by the United States. Soviet Union, France and the United Kingdom. In 1949 the other western areas, those of France, the United Kingdom and the United States, were unified creating the Federal Republic of Germany while the USSR encouraged the creation of a Soviet state in the area they controlled, which was called the German Democratic Republic . In this way Berlin, Germany and Europe were divided in two, with a militarized border, but still without a wall.

The construction of the wall

The economic differences between the West Berlin and the Soviet caused that until 1961 up to 3 million people left the communist block direction to the Federal Republic. Alerted by this loss of population, since most of them were well-educated people with high profiles, on the night of August 12, 1961, they erected a provisional wall, protected with a fence, and closed 69 of the 81 control points that were there. along the border.

The next morning the transport between both sides was interrupted by the 155-kilometer wall that separated the two zones. During the following days the people who had houses in the vicinity were evicted and the construction of a brick and concrete wall of 4 meters high began, surrounded by innumerable security systems and watchtowers called "the death strip" .

Causes of the fall of the Berlin Wall

Starting from the basis that all historical events have multiple causes and it is impossible to identify them all, it is true that in the months prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall a series of events followed that led to the end of that outcome.

Crisis of governability

The years prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall were marked by a great crisis of governability, the population did not understand which of the two governments, Berlin or Moscow, had the legitimacy and the reason in the way of commanding the nation . During these years the leader of the USSR is Gorbachev, who intends to open the Soviet bloc to the world in an attempt to alleviate the deep crisis they were going through, in turn, the head of the GDR government, Erich Honecker, saw that opening with bad eyes, and opposed any attempt at renewal. The differences between the government of the GDR and the Soviet Union meant that even those people who felt comfortable and protected within the Soviet Union distanced themselves from the orders of the state apparatus .

Demands for change

As a result of the previous point, more and more people opposed the communist regime and demanded a profound renovation of the country, opening up to Germany and the western bloc. In the weeks leading up to the fall of the Berlin Wall, mass demonstrations took place in cities such as Dresden, Leipzig and Berlin itself, calling for the resignation of the government and the holding of elections. In turn, the organizations that opposed the regime were growing rapidly, both in the number of supporters and in their ability to mobilize and make themselves heard.

Open door policy

Finally, one of the episodes that most clearly dictated the future of the wall was the opening of the border between Austria and Hungary in May 1989. It had been a long time since many Germans from the Soviet area emigrated to Hungary with the intention of seeking political asylum in Hungary. the embassy of the RFA. With the opening of this border West Germans could transfer to the western block through the Austrian border, initiating the breaking of the blocks and anticipating the breaking of the wall.

The end of the wall

Because of this there were demonstrations calling for the opening of the wall that ended with the resignation of Erich Honecker, leader of the GDR. The central committee of the communist party took command, and in the face of popular pressure, on November 9, 1989, it decided to allow travel abroad. Before his words thousands of people went towards the wall, believing that they could pass without restrictions. The guards who were guarding him were not warned and they ran into a crowd that wanted to cross from one side of the border to the other, fortunately they did not dare to shoot and finally opened the access points. The people who listened to him on the radio and saw him on television came to see how the town broke the wall that had separated them for 28 years with picks and hammers. From the other side of the border they also dared to jump over the wall, and in the nearby bars they gave free access to everyone who crossed the wall.

The fall of the Berlin Wall not only meant the reunification of Germany, but it is the symbol of the end of the Soviet Union, of block politics and of the Cold War. With the wall fell much of the history of the twentieth century and began to forge the foundations of the twenty-first century.