Berlin Wall: Why the conflict happened?

During the Yalta Conference in February 1945, when Germany was looking as if it would be defeated; ”The Big Three” were deciding what they were going to do with the country.

It was decided that Germany would be separated into four main sections and split between the main allies.

Following the surrender of Germany in May 1945, plans to divide the country were fully agreed upon. West Germany was split between America, France and the United Kingdom. Whilst East Germany was now under the control of the Soviet Union, known as the German Democratic Republic (GDR).

It was also decided that Poland would receive a part of former East Prussia - resulting in many Germans having to migrate out of the area.

Treaties and agreements have often existed throughout conflicts - see how the Punic Wars came to an end compared to the Treaty of Versailles after the First World War

The capital of Germany, Berlin, was also split into four sections – the Soviet Union had control of the East side of the city, whilst again, the West was divided between America, France and the United Kingdom.


Although the Second World War was over - tensions throughout the world were still incredibly present, the Cold War was a war of ideologies: Capitalism versus Communism. 


Capitalism: Also called “free market economy”. It is an economic system, where most of the means of production are privately owned, and a person’s income is dependent on their job.

Communism: A political and economic system that aims to create a classless society. All wealth created by the public is divided among citizens equally or according to individual needs.


After Germany and Berlin were divided, tensions between the previous allies (the Soviet Union and West Europe) started to grow. As Berlin is in the middle of East Germany, (which the Soviet Union had control of), they felt as if they should have full control of the capital city, so they tried to starve the West out of West Berlin. However, the United Kingdom did not want to lose control and certainly did not want communism to gain further territory. Therefore, they flew aircraft over the barriers and dropped food and supplies to the starving West Berliners - see here for more details on the Berlin Airlift.

Aware that the population was declining at a rapid rate, the GDR felt that something had to be done. In a desperate attempt to monitor people crossing the boundaries and eventually completely stop them passing through and leaving East Germany a barrier was set up.

To do this, they put up a wall around West Berlin - separating the Western half from the USSR controlled areas (See map above). The initial construction of this barrier began on 13th August 1961, but as time went on a more official, harder to cross border - which was known as the Berlin Wall was constructed. See more about the immediate construction of the wall here…



Nearly 2,000 East German refugees were fleeing to the west through West Berlin each day by 1961!