Patrolled by guards and dogs, illuminated by floodlights and fortified by barbed wire and watchtowers, the Berlin Wall divided the city for 28 years.

Running through the city and around the outskirts, it stretched over 155 kilometres (96 miles). Thousands of escape attempts were made and 140 people died trying to make the crossing.

Find out why the Wall was built and how it changed life in Berlin.

An East and West Divided

© IWM

"I’m here in Potsdamer Platz, a public square in the centre of Berlin where east and west once met. In the years following the Second World War, Germany was divided between the allied nations. Britain, America and France occupied West Germany or the Federal Republic of Germany, the FRG.

East Germany became a satellite state of the Soviet Union known as the German Democratic Republic or GDR. Germany’s capital, Berlin, was situated deep within East Germany but was similarly divided with American, British and French sectors in West Berlin and the Soviet sector in East Berlin.

Beneath my feet is a line which demarcates where an impenetrable border once stood, it was called the Berlin Wall.

The Berlin Wall divided the city for 28 years. It was constructed on the 13th of August 1961 to prevent the movement of people from communist East Berlin and East Germany into democratic West Berlin. A Border already existed, but this new physical barrier meant that the city was completely separated.

The speed at which this happened came as a shock to residents from both sides. Its construction parted families, destroyed buildings and changed the entire cityscape.

Here are some of the original Berlin Wall sections on display in Potsdamer Platz. When the Berlin Wall was first constructed it was formed of bricks, barbed wire and concrete blocks.

But by the 1980s large sections of it were much more sophisticated. L-shaped, reinforced concrete slabs like this one were lined up alongside each other to create a solid structure over 3 meters high.

However, the Berlin Wall was not just one wall, it was two. With an area of land in the middle known as the’ death strip’. This contained watch towers, alarmed wire mesh fencing and anti-vehicle obstacles, all patrolled by armed guards and their dogs and illuminated by floodlights.

Despite these complex fortifications, over 5000 successful escapes took place through the border system between 1961 and 1989.

The total length of the Berlin Wall, through the city and around the outskirts, was over 155km in length. That’s 96 miles long. Surprisingly these sections here are some of the few still standing in Berlin.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, individual sections were dismantled and sold and can now be found in over 100 locations all over the world.

This section of wall was acquired in 1991 by Imperial War Museums and can now be found outside Imperial War Museum London."

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