On August 3, 1961, the Communist government of the German Democratic Republic began to build the antifascist barrier between East and West Berlin. It was meant to keep Western fascists from entering East Germany and to keep East Germany safe from West Germany. But it was really to keep people from East Germany from entering the West.
While building the wall, many of the people from East Germany tried to climb from tall apartment buildings to reach the West side before the windows were bricked up. There was essentially an outer wall and an inner wall, hence creating something called the death strip. The death strip was about 160 yards from the inner wall to the outer wall, and it contained an endless amount of traps. If you happened to get away with climbing over the inner wall and jumped down, then you would get impaled by large metal spikes that stuck up from the ground. If you were lucky enough to get passed the metal spikes, you would have to find a way to keep out of sight from the watch towers that littered the death strip. Search dogs and patrol vehicles also roamed the death strip, searching for people trying to escape. You could try and run, but the ground was made of sand, so it was almost impossible to outrun anything. If you managed to get by the metal spikes, watchtowers, patrol vehicles, and search dogs, still more traps awaited for you. Scattered around the death strip were trip wires which did one of two things. If you ran into one of these trip wires, it would send a signal to the nearest watch tower and set off an alarm. You wouldn’t know that you have run into one of these trip wires though because the alarm only goes off in the watch tower. If you hit another trip wire, it would trigger hidden shotguns, which would most definitely kill you. If you managed to get through ALL of the traps, the 12-foot high outer wall lined at the top with barbed wire awaited you.
Very few people made it across the death strip without dying, but those who did were mostly guards who knew all of the ways. People who didn’t try and get through the death strip came up with different ways to escape. Some people tried hot air balloons. A lot of people went through underground tunnels, and a couple of people from West Germany tried smuggling their relatives into a car, as people in West Germany were allowed to go in and out East Germany as they please after a few years of the Berlin wall being up.
On November 9, 1989, the Berlin wall was finally taken down letting East Germany access the West.
Today, only small parts of the Berlin wall still stand, and you can even see a tiny bit of the death strip. Some of the parts of the wall that were left were filled with different artworks.
These are some of the artworks that are found on the Berlin wall: