November 9, 2014 marked the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Over one million people were expected to take to the streets of Berlin in order to celebrate the destruction of a wall that separated a city for almost 28 years. The festivities included an 8000-balloon release, street festivals and concerts to commemorate the day the East and the West began a reunification of Germany’s capital city.
The Berlin Wall was constructed in 1961 under the direction of the then Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev in order to preserve the East German state. East Berlin had lost almost a sixth of its population to West Berlin as young, educated Germans fled the communist rule of the East for the freer, capitalist West.
Upon completion the Wall stood about 12 feet high and ran a total length of 96 miles. Two 4-foot-wide masses of reinforced concrete were crowned with piping making the Wall nearly impossible to climb over. On the East German side was the so-called “Death Strip” it was a 160-yard gauntlet consisting of trenches, deadly watchdogs, floodlights and trip-wire guns. Running the entire length of the Wall were watch towers manned by armed guards at all times with orders to shoot on sight anyone attempting to flee West over the Wall. The Wall ran for 27 miles directly through the city and divided it into the East and West sides.
Despite the danger, thousands attempted to scale the Wall in order to escape East German rule. It is estimated that at least 5000 East Germans made it over the Wall, while around 170 were killed during their attempts. Some of the more creative ways people successfully made it over were by use of hot air balloon, on a tightrope, and even by zip line.
Beginning in the mid-seventies, even East German leaders began to weaken in their stance that the Wall was not a hindrance to a Germans right to move freely and travel within the country. Further, a strong movement was forming throughout the eighties against the political and social situation in the East. And by the autumn of 1989, borders between the East and West were opening and the Wall was beginning to come down. Although the rise of the Wall was marked by great tension, the Fall was quite peaceful with citizens of both the West and East happy to be unified once again.
The fall of the Berlin Wall affected most significantly the people of Berlin. Their capital city was once again intact and what was once a very clear line between communism and capitalism was erased. East Berlins politics were totally restructured as the Communist leadership lost its stronghold.
However, the fall of the Wall also had worldwide effects. Broadly, the fall signaled the weakening of communism in Europe, thus allowing the United States to make significant moves towards spreading democracy worldwide. Further, the fall ended the Cold War and with that the strong potential for worldwide nuclear war.
Germany today is a much different place than during the Walls tenure. The Walls fall has allowed the country to become much more democratic and a world diplomatic power. The fall freed up markets, allowing capitalism to grow and, as such, unemployment has remained relatively low. Germany is now the worlds fourth-largest economy.
At Brownstone Law, we applaud Germanys successes since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Our lawyers also work specifically on appellate litigation in the areas of federal, criminal and civil appeals. If you would like more information about us or help with your federal appeal please contact us today.
Speak with an appellate lawyer.