Revision Diary

Berlin Wall


Berlin Wall; President Kennedy’s visit to Berlin, 1963.



In the early 1960s, the focus of the Cold War turned again to Germany, and especially to Berlin.   Berlin was a HUGE embarrassment to the Russians, because people in the Soviet bloc were desperate to get out, and they were fleeing in their millions to the West via West Berlin.   So the Russians were determined to get the Americans out of West Berlin.


As you revise this confrontation, it is VITAL that you now the story of the Berlin Wall and its importance.




The Berlin Wall, 1961


I have never marked a set of exams when some FOOL did not

muddle up the Berlin Wall with the Berlin Blockade.

If you do this - ZERO MARKS!!! - get it sorted.



•   Tension in Cold War - Kennedy was helping the war in Vietnam.

•   Tension over West Berlin - by 1961, 2000 people a day (3 million since 1945) were fleeing to the West through West Berlin.

•   West Berlin was a centre for American spies

•   At the Vienna Summit (June 1961) Khrushchev again demanded that the Americans leave West Berlin.

•   Instead, in July 1961, Kennedy INCREASED his arms spending


•   13 August 1961: the East Germans erected a barbed wire wall overnight, later replaced with concrete. 

•   All movement between East and West was stopped.

•   The Wall was fortified with barbed wire and guns.


•   Western powers protested but couldn't do anything.

•   Wall remained until 1991, a symbol of the division between East and West.

•   MANY East Germans died trying to escape through the Wall.



Results of the Berlin Wall

•   Cold War tension grew - both sides began testing nuclear bombs.

•   Berlin was split into two.  

•   The Wall remained until 1991, a symbol of the division between East and West.


•   At first, it was a Russian propaganda victory - the Americans couldn't do anything.

•   BUT as time went on, MANY East Germans died trying to escape through the Wall - it became a symbol of the failures of Communism, poor, oppressed, and cut off from the West.

•   It therefore also inspired people in the West to try to defeat communism - the West became more anti-Communist.

•   In 1963, President Kennedy went to West Berlin and - in his 'I am a Berliner' speech, given right next to the Wall - made HUGE propaganda out of the Wall, about the need to defeat communism.   He said that it showed that there could be no accommodations made with the communists - they must be opposed.   (On the other side of the Wall, East Berliners listened and cheered him).


Revision Focus

This is a Paper 1 topic, so concentrate on learning:

1.   WHAT happened

2.   EFFECTS/ Importance



e-book on the Berlin Wall



Online revision sheet  




•    The Berlin Wall