A City Divided Against Itself
On May 8, 1945, millions of people in cities and towns across North America and Europe poured into the streets to celebrate V-E Day — Victory in Europe.
After six long years of war, Nazi Germany was finally defeated.
With the war over, the victorious allies - the United States, Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union - prepared to implement decisions they made previously about the fate of post-war Germany.
The Allies were united in their determination to prevent Germany from rising from the ashes of defeat to wage yet another war in Europe.
That unity, however, included division - the splitting of Germany into two new nations, a free West Germany and a communist East Germany.
But there was one exception. Berlin, Germany's capital, was located deep in East Germany.
The allies were not willing to let the Communist government control Germany's most important city.
The four allies divided Berlin into four sectors, each nation controlling one sector.
From the time Berlin was divided, East Germans, suffering under communist control, sought freedom and opportunity by fleeing to West Berlin and West Germany.
By 1961, upwards of 1,000 people a day were defecting from East Germany to West Berlin.
To prevent any further losses, the Soviets erected a heavily guarded wall.
For 28 years, the Berlin Wall stood as a powerful and tragic reminder how far the communists would go to keep people from living in freedom.