the wall that divided the German city of Berlin from 1961 until 1989
Origin and usage
Berlin Wall is a translation of the German ‘Berliner Mauer’. It is so well-known that it is sometimes referred to simply as ‘the wall’, as in ‘The day the wall came down’.
Saturday was the 30th anniversary of the day when the checkpoints in the concrete barrier that divided the city of Berlin in two were opened on the East German side, allowing more or less free passage from one side to the other. The term ‘wall’ is perhaps misleading here: it was more of a rampart, puntuated by towers and with a wide area in front of it containing trenches and other defences. The demolition of the wall started immediately as people chipped off pieces to take away as souvenirs; the wall was demolished the following year, the year of German reunification, having stood for almost 30 years. The Berlin Wall formed part of the Iron Curtain, the physical borders that divided Eastern and Western Europe during the Cold War, the period of tension and hostility between the Soviet Union and the Western nations between 1945 and the end of the 1980s.
“Walls in people’s heads are sometimes more durable than walls made of concrete blocks.”
checkpoint, cold war, the Bay of Pigs, the Iron Curtain