Germany marks 55 years since the Berlin Wall was built

Germany on Saturday honoured those who died while trying to cross the Berlin Wall, which was built 55 years ago.

Berlin's Mayor Michael Mueller laid a wreath at the central memorial on Bernauer Street and attended a prayer service at the Protestant Chapel of Reconciliation, which was erected on the former border strip.

The building of the wall began on August 13, 1961, and was spearheaded by Walter Ulbricht, communist leader of Soviet-influenced East Germany, the so-called German Democratic Republic (GDR).

Berlin was a special case, as the capital city was divided into four zones of influence between the occupying powers after World War II.

The Berlin Wall physically divided the city's three western zones - with troops from the United States, Britain and France still stationed there - from the eastern zone, and created an enclave within the larger Soviet sector.

At nearly 155 kilometres long, the wall divided Berlin for more than 28 years.

The division of the country finally ended on November 9, 1989.

According to current data, at least 138 people died while trying to cross the Berlin Wall, including Peter Fechter, an 18-year-old who was one of the first victims shot by GDR border guards as he tried to escape to West Berlin a year after the wall was built.

Flower wreaths were placed at a memorial in his honour on Saturday.

The number of victims killed along the nearly 1,400-kilometre internal German border that separated East from West Germany is still being investigated.

Last update: Sat, 13/08/2016 - 14:09
Author: 

More from Europe

British government to table Brexit bill after losing court appeal

The British government said it will table a "straightforward bill" allowing parliament to vote on triggering formal...

Ex-EU Parliament chief Schulz to challenge Merkel in German elections

Former EU Parliament president Martin Schulz is set to lead Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) into battle against...

EP Foreign Affairs Committee warns of rising tensions in W. Balkans

Members of the Committee on Foreign Affairs on Tuesday expressed concern over rising tensions and incendiary...

Gabriel set to become German foreign minister

Social Democrat chief Sigmar Gabriel is set to become Germany's foreign minister after deciding against standing as...

Gabriel proposes Schulz as the centre-left SPD's challenger to Merkel

German Social Democrat (SPD) chief Sigmar Gabriel said Tuesday he will not lead his centre-left party's challenge to...