Friday, March 30, 2007


Photo of Berlin Wall by Henri Cartier Bresson

The following quote is from a 1962 brochure from the East German government (GDR) defending the Berlin Wall. It was published in English for foreign distribution.

"We no longer wanted to stand by passively and see how doctors, engineers, and skilled workers were induced to give up their secure existence in the GDR and work in West Germany or West Berlin. These and other manipulations cost the GDR annual losses amounting to 3.5 thousand million marks."

Attempts to scale the wall varied in their success. Some figures show that out of approximately three thousand attempts, around two thousand were successful. Two hundred and thirty-nine people died while attempting to cross into West Berlin - the last of these was 20 year old Chris Gueffroy, shot on February 5th, 1989.

The wall "fell" on Novemeber 9, 1989 in the wake of mass demonstrations against the East German government - it was clearly time for it to go. 80% of East Germans went on holiday for a week and streamed across the border. Official demolition of the Berlin Wall started June 13th, 1990 by East German border guards and demolition experts from the West German Federal Defense Force.

In July of 1990, Roger Waters lead a star-studded performance of "The Wall" on the no-man's land of Potsdamer Platz, a location where escapees from East Berlin had been gunned down by border guards. Ticket prices were far too expensive for most East Germans, but they gathered on surrounding rooftops to watch. After a few of the opening acts performed, concert security opened the gates for all to enter.

The GDR ceased to exist on October 3, 1990.

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