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3 - The "Wall" system

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  To prevent getting out

La frontièreContrary to the claim of East German propaganda, the Wall was not an " antifascist wall of protection " intended to avoid aggression from the West. It was entirely for domestic use, being designed not to stop people getting in but to prevent them getting out. In this way, on 21st June 1963, the East German Defence Minister issued a decree setting up a 30 to 100 metre wide border zone around West Berlin where residents were subjected to strict controls. This zone was placed under close surveillance and anyone entering it required a special authorization or face a heavy penalty. Also, the automatic firing systems were on the eastern side as well; they were dismantled in 1984, in exchange for two substantial loans granted to East Germany by the federal government.

As time passed, the Wall was gradually perfected and became more and more impassible. Altogether it was overhauled four times over. To begin with, it was made up of 12 kilometres (7.5 mi.) of concrete slabs and 137 kilometres (86 mi.) of barbed wire, covered from 116 watch towers, including 32 along the East-West Berlin border. After October 1964, it was gradually strengthened, doubled up and transformed into a " modern border " which took on its final appearance from around 1979-1980.

The Wall cut through 192 streets (97 between East and West Berlin and 95 between West Berlin and East Germany), 32 railway lines, 8 S-Bahn and 4 underground lines, 3 autobahns and several rivers and lakes. On the waterways, the Wall consisted of submerged railings under constant surveillance from patrol boats.

The Wall was an anomaly that gave rise to a number of peculiarities.

As it was mostly built a little back from the sector demarcation line, in places like Tiergarten, Kreuzberg and the south of the city, there was a sign to indicate exactly where the border was. In this way, anyone approaching the Wall from the west found themselves " on the other side " and were in danger of being arrested by East German guards coming through iron gates in the Wall.

The Wall cut off the small Berlin exclave of Steinstücken, located in East Germany but part of the American sector. This exclave received supplies and protection from US forces until a road was built in 1971. A similar situation was to be found at Eiskeller, an exclave in the British sector.

 

To prevent them
To prevent people
getting out

The border zone
The border zone

More and more impassible
More and more impassible

A modern border
A modern border

 

 

 

Bas de page Renforcement du Mur

 

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