The Berlin Wall is often associated with the Cold War, which is why it’s important to understand the difference between these two historic events. The dividing of East and West Germany from 1961 to 1989 marked a significant moment in modern history and changed the lives of millions of people living within its borders. On one side, you had strength in unity and solidarity among citizens, while on the other was fear, brutal control, and constant surveillance by government forces.
Nevertheless, those who lived behind this impenetrable iron curtain were resilient — eventually unraveling years of turmoil when they tore down that wall in 1989. But what exactly caused such drastic measures? Uncovering this complex web requires an examination into both the main elements that fueled nearly five decades of geopolitical rivalry: The Berlin Wall and The Cold War.
What is Berlin Wall?
The Berlin Wall was one of the defining symbols of the Cold War. Built by the East German government in 1961, it served as a physical barrier between East Berlin and West Berlin, protecting the East against the influence from its capitalist neighbor. The Berlin Wall quickly became infamous for keeping people within its borders, with Berliners on both sides unable to cross freely between east and west. It finally came down in 1989, symbolizing a new era of international cooperation to solve crises without resorting to division.
What is Cold War?
Cold War is the term used to describe the period of tension between the United States and the Soviet Union in order for both countries to gain a strategic advantage over each other.
- Cold War tactics included political and military involvement as well as propaganda, espionage, and scientific and technological development. Cold War tensions lasted from 1945 until 1991 when the Cold War ended with the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
- During this time, Cold War adversaries did not actually fight each other and limited most of their interactions to proxy wars where both sides supported local allies in different parts of the world.
- In spite of never engaging one another directly, the Cold War strategy posed serious economic, social, political, and cultural threats that were felt by people around the globe.
Difference between Berlin Wall and Cold War
Berlin Wall and the Cold War are often mentioned together due to Berlin Wall’s strong connection to Cold War events. Despite their close connection, Berlin Wall and Cold War have a key difference in their purpose and timeline. Berlin Wall was erected by the Soviet Union to limit migration between East Berlin and West Berlin in 1961, while the Cold War was an ideological conflict between US and USSR that lasted from 1947 until 1989.
Berlin Wall served as a physical structure to separate two ideologically different regions of Berlin, whereas the Cold War represented a power struggle for control over various ideologies such as democracy and communism. Berlin Wall fell in 1989 after the end of the Cold War which marked an end to the East-West Berlin rivalry, much due to Gorbachev’s political reforms throughout the eastern Bloc.
For many, the fall of the Berlin Wall marked the end of the Cold War. However, there is an important distinction between the two. The Berlin Wall was a physical barrier erected by the Soviet Union to prevent people in East Germany from fleeing to West Germany. The wall came to represent the ideological divide between communism and capitalism. The Cold War, on the other hand, was a period of time marked by tension and conflict between the Soviet Union and the United States, even though they never fought each other directly. These were just some key points about the differences between the Berlin Wall and Cold War.