By Mehnoor Singh
“The sealing-off measures of the East Berlin government did not increase, but lessened, the danger of a third world war.” – French Premier Paul Reynaud, 19 August 1961
The Berlin Wall has always been seen as the wall that divided the people of Germany, the Wall that divided Europe. It was seen as an evil Communist creation and it is talked about no differently in our history books. The books however, don’t tell you how the Wall prevented World War 3.
Today, if the President of the United States can order the construction of a wall on the border with Mexico, if member states of the European Union can propose to erect walls on their borders to prevent instability in their countries, to protect the sovereignty of their states, I ask them, how was the Berlin Wall which was built for the same purposes any different?
The construction of the Berlin Wall began in 1961 but what preceded that year were years of provocations, sabotage, both economic and agricultural espionage, tunnels were being dug under the GDR, municipal railway cars were being destroyed, bomb attacks were being carried out, guards on the frontier being attacked and shot.
After World War 2, it was decided that all of Germany had to pay reparations to the Soviet Union for the immense damage Nazi Germany had inflicted. However, within a year, in 1946, cracks started to appear in agreements between the Soviet Union and the “allies.”
The Eastern zone now had to pay all of the costs for the West stopped fulfilling their part. The East was given an extra 15 years by the Soviet Union to repay its reparations. As a result, the German Democratic Republic started poor and working hours were longer than those in the West, wages were lower, quality of goods was poorer.
The GDR was losing millions of Marks every year because of this. Its highly skilled labour, including doctors and engineers which had been shaped by socialist education to support industrial growth in the war-torn country, were being lured to West Germany for more money.
People commuted between the West and the East. They earned more working in the West and enjoyed the social welfare (low electricity tariff, low-cost kindergarten facilities for their children, free libraries, the list is non-exhaustive) benefits of the East.
All this was causing the East to lose a lot of money.
The West German government, a puppet of the United States, had converted West Berlin into a centre of provocation from where 90 espionage organizations, the RIAS American broadcasting station in West Berlin, associations organizing acts of sabotage against the GDR operated freely.
Military service was extended from 12 months to 18 months. A Voluntary Police Reserve was established, a Civil War troop of about 6,000 men was established and the organizing of 20,000 reservists was announced. In July 1961, the combined strength had reached 311,000, among them were thousands of Nazis who used propaganda to harden the anti-communist sentiments they had employed against the Soviet Union.
All this was happening in the shadow of West Germany being added to the imperialist military alliance NATO in 1955 and the dangerous act to arm the West with nuclear weapons in 1958.
“On the stones of this wall stand atomic armament, entry into NATO, revanchist demands, anti-communist incitement, non-recognition of the GDR, rejection of negotiations, the front-line city of West Berlin.”
The wall did not fall out of the sky. It was the culmination of events that the West was carrying out against the East. The West was at war with the German Democratic Republic and this aggression wouldn’t have stopped at the borders of the GDR.
The Anti-Fascist wall, as it was called, cannot and must not be viewed in isolation of the circumstances that surrounded it for it would be a great wrong to all the workers and to those who laid their lives fighting fascism!
The wall stopped the war-mongers, the military industrial complex of the United States which forms the very basis of that country from starting a new world war and protected peace.