Free Walking Tour Berlin

When: Every day 10am & 12pm every day
Where: The meeting point is in front of the ehemaliges Kaiserliches Postfuhramt Berlin, Oranienburger Straße, 10117 Berlin, Germany, next to the entrance.
Price: Free

Was West or East Berlin the Free Side of the Wall?

by | Oct 17, 2023 | Walking Tour

The Berlin Wall, erected in 1961, separated the city of Berlin into two parts: West Berlin and East Berlin. It stood as a physical and ideological divide between the Western democratic countries and the Eastern bloc, led by the Soviet Union. The wall symbolized the Cold War era and the tensions between capitalist and communist ideologies.

The Dividing Line

The Berlin Wall ran for approximately 155 kilometers, encircling West Berlin. The wall included numerous barriers such as fences, walls, watchtowers, and a death strip to prevent people from crossing. This division was a manifestation of the political divide between the Eastern and Western blocs.

West Berlin: The Free Side

West Berlin was often referred to as the “free side” of the Berlin Wall. It was part of West Germany, a democratic nation supported by Western allies such as the United States, the United Kingdom, and France. In West Berlin, people enjoyed more personal freedoms, a capitalist economy, and democratic governance.

1. Personal Freedoms

Residents of West Berlin had the freedom to express their political opinions, the right to vote in democratic elections, and the ability to travel abroad more easily. They enjoyed freedom of speech, assembly, and a free press. Moreover, West Berliners had access to a wide range of cultural activities, entertainment, and consumer goods.

2. Capitalist Economy

West Berlin operated under a capitalist economy, embracing free market principles and private ownership of businesses. This led to a higher standard of living compared to the Eastern side. The economic prosperity attracted many young people and professionals from East Berlin and other Eastern bloc countries.

3. Democratic Governance

West Berlin had its own democratic government, which was recognized by Western nations as the legitimate authority of the city. The government represented the interests of its citizens and governed based on democratic principles. It had close ties with West Germany and received support from its allies.

East Berlin: Life Behind the Wall

East Berlin, on the other hand, was part of East Germany, a socialist state governed by the Soviet Union. The region fell under a communist regime, and its citizens experienced a different set of conditions.

1. Limited Freedoms

People living in East Berlin had limited personal freedoms compared to their counterparts in the West. They faced strict control over their political opinions and limited freedom of expression. Dissent was heavily suppressed, and citizens were subject to surveillance by the secret police. Travel to Western countries was tightly regulated and, in many cases, prohibited.

2. Socialist Economy

East Berlin operated under a socialist economy, with a centrally planned system. The means of production were commonly owned, and the state controlled major industries. While this system aimed at equitable distribution of resources, it often resulted in a shortage of consumer goods and a lower overall standard of living compared to the West.

3. Communist Governance

East Berlin was governed by a communist regime aligned with the Soviet Union. The government exercised strict control over various aspects of life, including politics, media, and education. The ruling party held power through a centralized authority, and dissent or opposition was not tolerated.

Conclusion

In summary, West Berlin was considered the “free side” of the Berlin Wall. It provided its citizens with personal freedoms, a capitalist economy, and democratic governance. In contrast, East Berlin was under a communist regime, which resulted in limited freedoms and a socialist economy.

While the Berlin Wall stood as a physical and ideological barrier for nearly three decades, it eventually came down in 1989. This event marked a significant milestone towards the reunification of Germany and the end of the Cold War.

Thank you for reading. If you're inspired by the stories of Berlin and want to delve deeper, why not join us on our Free Berlin Walking Tour? It's a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the city's rich history and vibrant culture. We look forward to welcoming you soon.

Tags:

WHAT TO EXPECT

  • 3.5 hours walking tour
  • Berlin’s major highlights
  • Brandenburg Gate
  • Reichstag and Berlin Wall
  • Historical sites

Free Walking Tour Berlin

When: Every day 10am & 12pm every day
Where: The meeting point is in front of the ehemaliges Kaiserliches Postfuhramt Berlin, Oranienburger Straße, 10117 Berlin, Germany, next to the entrance.
Price: Free