Today In History 1961, soldiers of East Germany begin laying bricks for the foundation of what would become the Berlin Wall. The wall would serve as a separation line between Soviet-controlled communist East Berlin and democratic West Berlin. After the German defeat in 1945, Germany was split between the Soviets, Americans, British and French. Although the capital city of Berlin was in the Soviet zone of occupation, the city itself was also split. The conditions in East Berlin were poor, and many people defected, up to 1,000 East Berliners were leaving a day. For the next 12 years, people would migrate in mass until finally in August 1961, the Communist leader of East Germany, Walter Ulbricht, received permission to begin sealing off access from East to West Berlin. Soldiers immediately began building, laying more than 100 miles of barbed wire along the border. The wire would ultimately be replaced with something more robust: a six-foot-high, 96-mile-long wall of concrete blocks. The wall was complete with guard towers, machine gun posts, and searchlights. East German officers known as Volkspolizei (“Volpos”) patrolled the Berlin Wall day and night in search of any defectors, their orders simple: Shoot to Kill. The next day, many east berlin families woke up separated from relatives in West Berlin. The west Berlin mayor, Willi Brandt, criticized Western democracies, for failing to take a stand against it. President John F. Kennedy would later respond publicly that the United States could only help West Berliners and West Germans, and that any kind of action on behalf of East Germans would only result in failure. It would be 28 years later that the two Berlins would reunite when fueled by the decline of the Soviet Union masses people from both Berlins gathered at the Berlin Wall and began to climb over and dismantle it. As this symbol of repression was destroyed, East and West Germany became one nation again, signing a formal treaty of unification on October 3, 1990. #todayinhistory #thisdayinhistory #onthisdayinhistory #germany #germanhistory #berlin #berlinhistory #ussr #soviethistory #berlinwall #coldwar Should the Western powers have taken action before?