Paris Agar, Art Curator, Cold War and Late 20th-Century Conflict
Monday 4 November 2019

What was the Berlin Wall?

What was the Berlin Wall?

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

Berlin Wall 30

Berlin Wall
© Crown copyright. IWM (CT 2229)
Cold War
What was the Berlin Wall and how did it fall?
At the end of the Second World War, Germany was divided into four zones of occupation under the control of the United States, Britain, France and the Soviet Union.
A man chips away at a part of the Berlin Wall. Grafffiti above him reads 'Build Doors Not Walls.' Still from the NATO film collection.
Cold War
The Rise and Fall of the Berlin Wall on Film
Explore our timeline of key events in the Berlin Wall’s history using IWM’s film collection.
The opening of the Berlin Wall. The West German flag flies over the Brandenburg Gate, with a graffiti covered section of the Berlin Wall in the foreground in early 1990. The marks on the wall left by hundreds of Berliners chipping away at the concrete are clearly visible. By the end of 1990, much of the Wall had been demolished.
Cold War
8 Photos Of The Fall Of The Berlin Wall
On 9 November 1989, government spokesman Gunter Schabowski announced at a press conference that every citizen of East Germany would be allowed to travel to the West, effective immediately.