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The Berlin Wall: August 13, 1961 – November 9, 1989 by Frederick Taylor is a history of a violent and futile episode during the Cold War period.
The Berlin Wall was put up on August 13, 1961. It came crashing down on November 9, 1989. There has been a recorded number of 86 people who died as a direct result of violence in the Berlin Wall. The count may include more. The Berlin Wall stood as a powerful symbol of the division between East(Communism) and West (Capitalism). The Berlin Wall also served as a repudiation of Soviet style communism. The Berlin Wall was a propaganda catastrophe for communism. For the 28 years that it stood, it represents how communism directly competed with capitalism and then lost.
The reason why East Germany’s leaders put up the Berlin Wall was because they wanted to prevent movement into encircled West Berlin. West Berlin was a part of West Germany but was inside East Germany’s territory. East Germans were defecting to the West in record numbers via West Berlin. It was Josef Stalin who authorized Walter Ulbricht and Erich Honecker to make sure that the frontier between the two Germanys was made secure and prevent the movement of people. The East German government initially closed traffic only to their citizens passing through the Soviet sector (East) to the Allied (West) sector. Passage from West to East was permitted but in was in theory only.
The Berlin Wall was built on a Sunday (a rest day for workers) and it became permanent, heavily guarded and highly impassable. On the morning of August 13, 1961, the residents of East Berlin woke up and found themselves cut off from family, friends and jobs in West Berlin by barbed wire which cut Berlin (a city of four million) in two. Within days the barbed wire metamorphosed into an imposing 103 mile wall guarded by three hundred watchtowers. The Berlin Wall was a physical symbol of the struggle between Soviet Communism (totalitarianism) and American capitalism (freedom). The Berlin Wall stood for nearly thirty years and could have triggered war between East and West.
Frederick Taylor combined official history, archived materials and personal accounts to tell the story of the Berlin Wall’s rise and fall. It started with the postwar political tensions that created a divided Berlin to the internal and external pressures that led to the Wall’s demise.
What is lacking in this book was that no emphasis was made about Ronald Reagan‘s famous speech at the Brandenburg Gate, President Reagan challenged Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall!“. “Tear down this wall!” is a line from a speech made by US President Ronald Reagan in West Berlin on June 12, 1987, calling for the leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, to open up the barrier which had divided West and East Berlin since 1961.
A sturdy contribution to Cold War history.
OTHER BOOKS ABOUT HISTORY, POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT THAT I HAVE READ AND REVIEWED: