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Berlin: focal point of international relations in 1948,1961 and1989
After the second world war in 1945 the Allies took over Berlin and divided the city into four sectors France, the United Kingdom and the United States as Capitalists and the Soviet Union as Communists. They were thinking that Berlin as the former Capital of Germany was to be of special interest, but they also divided Germany in four sectors: firstly to weaken it, but also to share the power equally. It was meant to be a temporarily division, but the East- West Separation separated Capitalists and Communists. Although, they had very different ideologies, they built an ally against the Germans to end the war and to defeat Nazigermany. Their ideologies where still very different and after the war it was Communism against Capitalism -they had to decide how to divide Germany up and no one wanted the other one to have any advantages. Good against evil? Everyone thought of himself to be right and of the other one to have the wrong ideology. Germany provides a unique opportunity for the Super Powers to observe each other at close quarters, both opine and secretly. Any deterioration in relations between East and West Germany was usually an indication of increased tension between the Super Powers.
Although Berlin lay in the Sovietzone of occupation, the Westernpowers expected the Soviets to permit them free access to the city. However in March 1948 the Russians walked out of a meeting of the Control Council because the Western Allies would not let them know their plans for the future. When the Western Zones introduced a new currency in 1948, the "Deutschemark" the Soviets saw this as western interference in East Germany and they closed all transport links between West Berlin and the West. The Soviets hoped the blockade would drive Western troops out of Berlin. Of course the Americans didn't want to give in and give the triumph to the Soviets and as Berlin was in the Soviet zone, there where too many troops surrounding the city for the Western Allies to risk an invasion, without causing another war, so the Americans organized a gigantic airlift to supply West Berlin with supplies (including coal, food, food, drinks, oil, electricity). The Americans stopped flying to Berlin in May 1949 after 324 days of uninterrupted planes flying to Berlin. The flights continued though until September as stockpiles were built up. Millions of tons in hundreds of / thousands of flights were transported during that time. By 1961 more than 1000 East Germans were fleeing to West Berlin everyday, because of dissatisfaction with the economic and political situation(forced collectivization of agriculture, repression of private trade, supply gaps, simply the influences of communism). They were welcome in West Germany, because it showed them very lively, that the people were dissatisfied with the communist regime. Also the International political situation was tense. On November 27 1958, the soviets delivered their Berlin Ultimatum, demanding that the Western Allies should withdraw their troops from West Berlin and that West Berlin should become a "free-city" within six months. Generally, measures of the government of the GDR, were expected with the aim of preventing people from leaving the GDR; officially, they said though from preventing Wises coming to East Berlin, because the Communists couldn't admit of course, that people liked it better in the West, what brings us back to the old problem East against West. At a press conference on June 15, 1961 Ulbricht (the leader of the East German communist party, SED) said:... No one has the intention of constructing a wall. .." During the night from August 12 to 13, the east German police began under the leadership of Erich Honecker to block off West Berlin, from the Soviet Zone, by means of barbed wire. The subways and local railway services between the two parts Berlin, were cut off. Inhabitants of the Soviet zone were no longer allowed to enter West Berlin, amongst them 60,000 commuters who had worked there so far. In the following days, the replacing of the provisional barriers by a solid wall began. The West had only offered verbal opposition to the building of the wall and it is highly probable that President Kennedy's apparent weakness concerning Berlin encouraged Krouschev to go ahead with his plans of placing nuclear missiles in Cuba. Many people were killed at their attempts to cross the border between East and West Germany, although a few succeeded: some tried flying over the boarder with balloons etc, others with digging tunnels. Westerners were making fun of the eastern part of Germany, who had to build a wall to keep its people in. This was not at all approved by the communist regime and at least 100 people were killed by East German boarder guards at the attempt; some left to bleed to death. Chris Gueffroy was the last one to loose his life at the wall -only a few month before the wall was opened, shot at 2 June 1989! Still around 5000 people crossed the wall in one way or the other in 28 years.
There was improvement in conditions and relations between East and West Germany since 1961 and in the 1970s various agreements enabled West Germans to visit families in the other sector. Whereas the process of European integration continued steadily in the West, the transition from the 1970s, the decade of détente, to the 1980s was marked by fresh conflicts in Eastern Europe. The Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan, the imposition of martial law in Poland and the emplacement of new intermediate-range missiles in the Soviet Union worsened the climate of East-West relations. In 1973 both East and West Germany joined the United Nations. In the 1980s the renewed tension in international affairs brought new movement in the relationship between East and West Germany. In 1989, dramatic events such as massive flights of inhabitants of the GDR via Hungary and demonstrations in Leipzig on Mondays took place. On November 9 1989 Guentler Schabowski announced that the border would be opened for private trips abroad without restrictions; an onrush of East Berliners towards the wall and West Berlin began and there were celebrations all over Berlin and the demolition of the wall began. Soon pieces of the wall were sold as souvenirs. Millions of people from all over Europe came to celebrate this dramatic change in German and European history. People were dancing in the streets until the next morning. While the wall was crumbling the East German government began massive reforms. It promised free elections and a switch to market economy. First free elections took place and the new prime minister Hans Modrow called for more reforms. Communist leaders hoped, that by allowing more freedom, they could prevent people from 'escaping' to the West, but it became clear that this didn't prove to be right and communist power continued to loose power. During that time, shocking discoveries were made: files on millions of citizens suspected of having anti Communist opinions, kept by the secret police were found and until today leaders are convicted of the crimes connected to the wall and the communist regime. On July l 1990, an economic, monetary and social union between East and West Germany was formed and all travel restrictions were dropped. By February 1990 it was accepted, that the GDR could not survive for long on its own, -economy was collapsing even more. West Germany spend huge amounts of money to help East Germany : for example they were able to exchange their money, which was hardly worth anything, into the « Deutschemark » at a rate of one to one, what cost the government of West Germany billions of marks, but it was just fair enough. On the evening of Tuesday , October 2 1990 people gathered in Berlin and all over Germany, toasting to the new Nation and singing German songs. At midnight, bells were ringing all over Germany -finally announcing the new, united nation. After 40 years of division of Germany and Germany, it was one Nation again. The unified Germany would have to define a new role, in a new Europe and a changing world, based on lessons and shaped on experiences of the recent past. In the first all-German elections in December 1990 the CDU rode to victory under the 'unification chancellor' Kohl. Today the 3 October is still celebrated as the German National Day .
- The story of the unification of Germany" by Jim Hargrove 1991
- The two Germanys 1945-1990 problems of interpretation by Marry Fulbrook 1992
- Germany-the reunification of a nation" by Catherine and John Bradley 1991
- The wall came tumbling down- the Berlin wall and the fall of communism" by Jerry Bornstein 1990
- Quote paper
- Helga Haller (Author), 1999, Berlin: focal point of international relations in 1948, 1961 and1989, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/102392