Everywhere around the world, barriers located on each and every continent. From the common American’s back yard to the Great Wall of China, we use them for privacy and security, but not all uses of walls have good intentions behind them. An example such as the Berlin Wall, created in 1961, divided East and Western Germany until it’s fall in 1992. The North-South Korean border (also known as the Korean DMZ) was created to diffuse tension between the two sister countries, and although it was created with peaceful intentions in mind, the border has suffered thousands of casualties since it’s creation in 1953.
A more recent boundary is the Israeli-Palestinian wall, which is seen as highly controversial in the middle east ( some Arabs even call it the wall of apartheid), yet the Israeli government insist that it protects the people. Though all of these walls were built for different purposes, they all achieved one goal, and \that is the separation of the people. Since the Berlin wall is the most infamous wall in recent time, I will be focusing on the economical, social, and environmental consequences of its construction.
On August 12th 1961, Berliners awoke to the sight of barbed wire that divided Germany’s capital city. Turmoil and confusion was widespread until Walter Ulbricht, head of the German Democratic Republic, stated that “ Nobody intended to put up a wall” (Ulbricht), however his actions contradicted his statement. Though no one intended to create a wall (or so they say), the GDR needed something to stop eastern Germans from abandonning their homes for the west, so a wall surrounding West Berlin fit the discription perfectly.
German citizens were outraged by the bohemoth wall that was erected over night, but the GDR claimed it was going to put a stop to the spread of Western ideals. Those who vocalized their dissent, atleast in eastern Germany, were arrested by the Stasi ( the secret police of the Communist party). During this time, foriegn allies were reluctant to interfere with German politics because of the Soviet union-controlled East in fear that it would cause another war (remember, this was during the cold war and both sides had nuclear arms). The German people were distraught over the sudden spilt, yet this was only the tip of the iceburg.
The cost of the Berlin wall is approximately 29,535,196 USD (adjusted for inflation), but this does not include the hundreds of lives that were claimed along the treacherous border. Beside the financial cost and the lost of life, thousands Germans, both East and Western, lost their jobs. Those who had invested into real estate were devastated by the loss, and much like in the crash of the stock market, some resorted to suicide. Trade between East and West Berlin was abruptly halted, and some in east Berlin starved due to the their dependance on the west.
Poverty was a familiar sight in Eastern Germany, and a paragraph from an unnamed author depicts this: We drove across West Germany, enjoying as always its orderliness and comfortable – bordering on conspicuous – prosperity, its beautifully restored and maintained historic buildings, cathedrals and churches, its paved pedestrianized town centres served by clean modern tramcars, its low-key town bypass roads carefully integrated into the landscape, and its scenic orderly countryside of woods, hills and immaculate farms. . .
As we drove the short distance towards Eisenach in East Germany our hearts began to sink as the dismal socialist scene gradually unfolded before us. The main road leading into the town was of prewar cobbles, full of potholes, the road edges overgrown and untidy, with rusted and leaning street lights many with their light fittings missing. . . As it is shown here, the divide of Berlin severely damaged Eastern Germany while the Western side was hardly affected. After the collapse of the wall, Eastern Berlin was able to bask in the wealth of it’s Western counterpart.
And with help from the federal government, both halves of the city are indistinguishable. It is said that you can never separate a family, but this is exactly what the Berlin wall did in 1961. Not only were families split, but a social hierarchy was formed as a result. Similar to the Outsiders book with “Greasers” and “Socs”, the Eastern Germans were referred to as “Ossis”,and they were people who wore drab clothing and drank off-brand soda. While the West Germans, called “Wessi”, drank Pepsi and drove BMW s