inner-German border
60 years of the construction of the Wall

60 years of the construction of the Wall

The inner-German border

"No one has the intention of building a wall ..." declared the then GDR Council of State Chairman Walter Ulbricht just a few weeks earlier. In fact, on 13 August 1961, the construction of the Wall began in Berlin, which became a symbol of the division of Germany for over 28 years.

The heavily guarded inner-German border measured a total of almost 1,400 kilometres from the Bay of Lübeck to the border triangle in Bavaria. 40,000 GDR citizens managed to escape. Several hundred people – figures quoted by historians vary widely – lost their lives at the hands of GDR border guards. Since the 1960s, the border on the GDR side has been increasingly expanded, especially to prevent a mass exodus of the GDR's own population to the West. The border area comprised a five-kilometre-wide restricted zone and the 500-metre-wide guarded protective strip directly next to the border fence.

The fall of the Wall in 1989

Video: 30 years since the fall of the Berlin wall – KfW and Germany's reunification (KfW Bankengruppe/Karres/Schuch/Sperl).

After 28 years and almost three months, the Wall fell on 9 November 1989. To mark the 30th anniversary of this epochal event and the simultaneous end of the division of Europe, KfW has released a video:
From the first gap in the Iron Curtain on the border between Hungaria and Austria, to the special importance that Mikhail Gorbatchev played for the end of Germany's and Europe's division, up to the momentous night of 9 November.
Former Federal Minister of Finance, Theo Waigel, former Federal President and State Secretary Horst Köhler, the historians Brendan Simms and Werner Plumpe, as well as other contemporary witnesses look back on the different aspects of a very special year.
The film also remembers KfW's extensive work for the reconstruction of East Germany, as well as regarding the withdrawal of the Russian troops from the former GDR and the completion of 44,000 flats for the soldiers in their homeland.

KfW and the reunification
Brandenburger Tor now and then

We show graphics, retrospects, facts and figures on the reconstruction of Eastern Germany.

Learn more

Published on KfW Stories: 13 August 2021