- a guarded concrete wall, 28 miles (45 km), with minefields and controlled checkpoints, erected across Berlin by East Germany in 1961 and dismantled in 1989.
A wall that separated West Berlin, Germany, from East Germany, which surrounded it until 1989. At the end of World War II, the victorious Allies divided Berlin, the German capital, into four sectors. The eastern, or Russian, sector became the capital of communist East Germany. The French, British, and American sectors continued as a prosperous Western “island” city surrounded by East Germany. From then until 1961, many East Germans, sometimes two thousand a day, fled to West Berlin, often with nothing more than the clothes they had on their backs. In the summer of 1961, the wall was built, and East Germany forbade its citizens to cross the wall, at the risk of being shot immediately by border guards. In November 1989, the East German government reopened the border and issued visas to East Berliners. The Berliners celebrated by breaking off pieces of the wall at a mass demonstration, which lasted into the next day. The wall has since been demolished.