On August 13, 1961, work began on the construction of the Berlin Wall. The barrier was intended to stem the population drain from communist East Germany to West Berlin and West Germany. The wall formalized West Berlin’s situation as an island in otherwise communist territory. The enclave was now surrounded by more than a hundred and fifty kilometers of massive fortifications. Yet West Berlin remained a magnet for those wanting to escape East Germany. At least 136 people were killed trying to get across the Berlin Wall. In total, more than 600 people were killed trying to flee East Germany. The Berlin Wall stood for 28 years, until 1989, when a series of mass protests set off a chain of events that ultimately led to the opening of the frontier and the end of communism in Central and Eastern Europe. During that time, dissidents and activists in East and West Germany helped smuggle thousands of people across the inner-German border. DW’s Christina Küfner caught up with one of them.
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