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Social Effects of the Berlin Wall

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THESIS: From research and historical analysts, we can conclude that in many cases the people of Germany have been effected socially and economically by the building and construction of the Berlin Wall.

I. Background

A. Beginning construction

B. Closing borders

C. Pre-Berlin Wall

II. History

A. Cold War

B. World War II

C. Economy

III. Post- Berlin Wall effects

A. Economic examples

B. Political examples


In the last fifty years the German Democratic Republic has been a nonstop changing country. In Germany, the terms "East" and "West" do not just represent geographically regions. It runs much deeper than that, and there is still a large gap in the way of life, and political and social conditions of the whole country. While most German's were sleeping on the night of August 13, 1961, the East German government began closing its borders. In the early morning of that Sunday, most of the first work was done: the border to West Berlin was closed. The East German troops had begun to tear up streets and to install barbed wire entanglement and fences through Berlin. Between 1961 and today, the Berlin Wall saw many changes, and so did the people that it entrapped.

Prior to the construction of the Berlin Wall, boarders between East and West Germany were closed in 1952 because of tension between Communists and Democratic superpowers and the only open crossing left in Berlin. West Germany was blockaded by the Soviets and only kept alive because of air drops made by the Western Allies (Time). The Soviets had to do something about the mass amount of people leaving Soviet East Berlin for West Berlin, and the non-communist world.

The most visible aspect of the Cold War was the Berlin Wall. Before the wall was constructed, East and West Germans could travel freely between the two states. The number of East Germans fleeing to West was an embarrassment to the Communists, and something had to be done to protect the intreasts of the Communist movement in Germany. The differences between the vibrant economic life of Berlin and the gray, slow growth of a Communist People's Republic was particularly apparent. The number of trained professionals in particular threatened the economy of East Germany. The Wall changed this. It did stop the flow of people West, but imprisoned the ones living in the west.

Since World War II, about half a million people cross the border separating different parts of Belin daily. East Berliners could attend movie theaters showing Western films, and many had jobs in the strong economy of West Berlin. With the thriving economy, many shopped in the well stocked stores in West Berlin. Items like jeans, fashionable dresses, and seamless panty hoses which were unavailable in East Berlin shops were reaidly available in West Berlin shops. In addition, East Berliners and other East Germans could simply take a subway car to flee to West Berlin and on to West Germany.

Even today Germans are seeing the effects of the wall. To Frank Schulz, a 35-year-old Berlin postman is a prime example of the effects. Six days a week, Schulz sets off to deliver 100 kilos of mail heaped into leather bags on his bright yellow Post Office bicycle in a Berlin neighborhood called Kopenik. Despite the arduous labor, Schulz is paid about $2,400 a year less than most other German mailmen. Schulz is an Ossi, the German

slang for an easterner, and even though the Berlin Wall came down a decade ago, Germans from the eastern part of the country still earn less than their counterparts in the west. "I feel like a second class citizen now," he says. "I'm really disappointed with the way



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