The Berlin Wall was a guarded concrete barrier that physically and ideologically divided Berlin from 1961 to 1989. Its demolition officially began on 13 June 1990 and was completed in 1992, the barrier included guard towers placed along large concrete walls, which circumscribed a wide area that contained anti-vehicle trenches, fakir beds and other defenses. The Eastern Bloc claimed that the Wall was erected to protect its population from fascist elements conspiring to prevent the will of the people in building a socialist state in East Germany. In practice, the Wall served to prevent the massive emigration and defection that had marked East Germany, the West Berlin city government sometimes referred to it as the Wall of Shame—a term coined by mayor Willy Brandt—while condemning the Walls restriction on freedom of movement. Between 1961 and 1989, the Wall prevented almost all such emigration, during this period, around 5,000 people attempted to escape over the Wall, with an estimated death toll ranging from 136 to more than 200 in and around Berlin. After several weeks of civil unrest, the East German government announced on 9 November 1989 that all GDR citizens could visit West Germany, crowds of East Germans crossed and climbed onto the Wall, joined by West Germans on the other side in a celebratory atmosphere. Over the next few weeks, euphoric people and souvenir hunters chipped away parts of the Wall, contrary to popular belief the Walls actual demolition did not begin until the summer of 1990 and was not completed until 1992. The fall of the Berlin Wall paved the way for German reunification, the capital of Berlin, as the seat of the Allied Control Council, was similarly subdivided into four sectors despite the citys location, which was fully within the Soviet zone. Within two years, political divisions increased between the Soviets and the occupying powers. Property and industry was nationalized in the East German zone, if statements or decisions deviated from the described line, reprimands and punishment would ensue, such as imprisonment, torture and even death. Indoctrination of Marxism-Leninism became a part of school curricula, sending professors. The East Germans created a political police apparatus that kept the population under close surveillance. In 1948, following disagreements regarding reconstruction and a new German currency, Stalin instituted the Berlin Blockade, preventing food, materials and supplies from arriving in West Berlin. The United States, Britain, France, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and several countries began a massive airlift, supplying West Berlin with food. The Soviets mounted a public campaign against the Western policy change. Communists attempted to disrupt the elections of 1948, preceding large losses therein, in May 1949, Stalin lifted the blockade, permitting the resumption of Western shipments to Berlin. The German Democratic Republic was declared on 7 October 1949, by a secret treaty, the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs accorded the East German state administrative authority, but not autonomy. The Soviets permeated East German administrative, military and secret police structures and had full control, East Germany differed from West Germany, which developed into a Western capitalist country with a social market economy and a democratic parliamentary government
View from the West Berlin side of graffiti art on the Wall in 1986. The Wall's "death strip", on the east side of the Wall, here follows the curve of the Luisenstadt Canal (filled in 1932).
Satellite image of Berlin, with the Wall's location marked in yellow