Did the fall of the Berlin wall end the Cold War?
The fall of the Berlin Wall during the night from 9 to 10 November 1989 symbolised the end of the Cold War era for the whole world. It culminated in one of the most famous scenes in recent history. The Berlin Wall came down partly because of a bureaucratic accident but it fell amid a wave of revolutions that left the Soviet-led communist bloc teetering on the brink of collapse and helped define a new world order.
When the Berlin Wall fell, more than 2 million people from East Berlin visited West Berlin that weekend to participate in a celebration that was, one journalist wrote, “the greatest street party in the history of the world.” People used hammers and picks to knock away chunks of the wall–they became known as “mauerspechte,” or “wall woodpeckers”—while cranes and bulldozers pulled down section after section. Soon the wall was gone and Berlin was united for the first time since 1945. “Only today,” one Berliner spray-painted on a piece of the wall, “is the war really over.”
But was the Cold War really over?
Actually it wasn’t. The Cold War went subversive like a dormant virus, noticable only for those with a keen eye and a thorough understanding of world history. One of the KGB officers stationed in Dresden when the Berlin Wall fell, was Vladimir Putin.
When Putin later became president of the Russian Federation, he openly vowed to restore the greatness of the former Soviet Union and many of its principles, but the Western World wasn’t listening – western economy was great and Europe highly dependant on Russian gas. So when Putin said it out loud for the whole world to hear in his Famous Munich Speech (2007), NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer reacted: ‘This is not constructive’ and the next day resumed business as usual. When Russia invaded Georgia (2008), annexed the Krim (2014) and openly defied the ‘free world’ by helping Assad in Syria, still the Western World did want to talk about a revival of the Cold War. It wasn’t until Putin invaded Ukraine that the Western World realized that the Cold War had never been gone.
Why was the Berlin Wall Build?
Following World War II, at the Yalta and Potsdam peace conferences, it was determined among the war’s victors that Germany’s territories would be split into four “Allied occupation zones.” The eastern part of the country went to the Soviet Union, while the western part went to the United States, Great Britain and eventually France. Berlin, as the capital, would be likewise split.
On May 23, 1949, the three Allied zones became the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) while the former Soviet occupation zone became the German Democratic Republic (GDR) on Oct. 7, 1949.
Because the city of Berlin was located entirely within the Soviet zone of occupation, West Berlin became an island within Communist East Germany. The economy in West Germany, as a result of the help provided by its occupying forces, quickly grew. The opposite occurred in East Germany. Valuable assets were shipped back to the Soviet Union and economic recovery was slow and stagnant. With many East Berliners fleeing that situation, a physical barrier between the two sides of Berlin, known as the Berlin Wall (die Berliner Mauer), was built starting in August of 1961. It became an ugly scar on the German landscape and a symbol of division in the country.1What happened the day the wall fell, Time