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History Lesson in Germany: The Berlin Wall

- Caroline

I’m one of those students who finds myself day dreaming about my future while in history class. I usually wonder ‘what does this have to do with anything now?’ However, over spring break I had the great opportunity to travel to Germany where I saw and learned about German history. Actually seeing the landmarks that I’ve read about in texts books helped me understand the great impact that history has on our lives today.

The first city I went to was Berlin, Germany, which is also the capital of Germany and famous for the Berlin Wall.  As travelers, could you image not being able to adventure to another part of the USA to enjoy sites and entertainment? Well image that you now have a poor way of life and wanted to move a few states over for a better opportunity and new government structure and when you tried you were shot at! Hard to picture isn’t it? That’s the basic outline for the Berlin Wall.

The Berlin Wall was put up in Berlin to separate East and West Germany. In 1961 the wall was closed and no one could travel between East and West Germany.  Prior to it closing citizens would travel back and forth for various reasons.  Once the wall was closed people wanted to escape into West Germany because it was a better way of life and government structure.  There are many famous stories about people trying to escape over the wall; about 5,000 people attempted and an estimated 171 people were killed in the attempt.  This went on for 28 years.

Checkpoint Charlie is an area that I got to visit on my tour. This was one of the three checkpoints on the wall used to register and inform tourists about the Western Military Forces before entering East Berlin.  The famous story that our tour guide shared with us is that one day the Russian and the American armies were tank to tank threatening each other and could have possibly started a World War Three. Check out the cool old school picture I found online

Fortunately the story gets better; On November 9th 1989 the wall was torn down.  Germans celebrate their holiday on Oct 3rd [which is compared to our 4th of July] because that is when the Germany was declared as being reunited.  Today pieces and parts of the wall are still up and a big memorial that outlines the history of the Wall can be viewed.

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