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The Berlin Wall: Architecture That Symbolized Lack of Freedom

Nov 13, 2019 | Architect, Architecture, General News, German Architecture, Historic Architecture

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In honor of the 30th anniversary of the Berlin Wall coming down this month, we thought we’d share some interesting facts about this historic monument.

The irony of the Berlin Wall was that the idea was conceived and built by the East German administration, led by Soviet Leader Nikita Khruschev, as a way to separate East Germany and Federal Republic of Germany (aka West Germany). Their goal was to protect their citizens from a capitalist society, but it actually caused East Germany from progressing forward.

The Berlin Wall was built on August 13th, 1961, and was 12 feet high and approximately 27 miles long. The Berlin Wall had armed East German border guards, 302 guard towers, and  had more than one million landmines and approximately 3,000 attack dogs. 

Families were separated and numerous people lost their lives trying to cross the Berlin Wall from the east side to the west side. Desperate attempts were made; the first one recorded was by a woman named Ida Siekmann. She jumped out of her apartment window and fell onto the concrete on the west side of the Berlin Wall.

It’s safe to say that symbolically speaking, those of us who see the wall as imprisonment for the East Germans are on the west side of the story, regardless of where we lived. To cut off freedom and progress as a way to maintain control will only lead to negative consequences. 

Today’s former East Germany still suffers, because the unification of Germany wasn’t an equal one and still suffers the remnants of what the division brought. West Germany encouraged capitalism and is rich in its resources, as well as being very progressive and in touch with the world. 

Once the Berlin Wall came down, millions of people on the east side lost their jobs. All of the east side now had to abide by West Germany’s laws, rules, and currency. Almost no major corporations have headquarters in East Germany, and the entire society still suffers economic issues.   

The wall came down on November 9th, 1989, but unfortunately like any other torture that’s inflicted, it has left scars among many who have lived through this torment.

Let this serve as a valuable and visual lesson that separation of an entire nation or society is never the answer.

Check out our picture gallery from our time at the Annenberg Space for Photography. Their newest exhibit is called W|ALLS, which explores the historical use and artistic treatment of walls over the centuries.


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