Berlin was divided into sectors of occupation so it was the centre of Cold War rivalry.
Stalin's attempts at taking West Berlin defeated by Berlin Airlift and Khrushchev also backed down after realising America would oppose any attempted takeover.
The Marshall Plan made living standards much better in the West than the East and the West became an advert for capitalism.
The people could afford luxury goods and many East Berliners crossed the border in search for a better life.
Over 2 million people deflected from East to West between 1945 and 1961, including educated and skilled workers.
This was very embarassing for Khrushchev and communism.
New American President John F Kennedy refused to give up West Berlin, Khrushchev decided to close border.
13th August 1961 Khrushchev closed the border overnight.
City cut into two by barbed wire, and crossing points guarded by Soviet tanks.
USA did little but issue protest. Vice President Lyndon B Johnson sent to Berlin with additional troops.
Restored West German morale and made Soviets realise USA would resist any attempt to influence West Berlin with communism.
Small confrontation at main crossing, Checkpoint Charlie, but no shots fired and tanks withdrew.
Barbed wire soon replaced with massive stone wall 45km long and 3.6m wide. Built slightly within East Germany borders.
During building process, soldiers ordered to kill anyone trying to deflect.
Completely sealed off boundaries and separated families and friends.
60,000 commuters travelled daily from East to West for work now couldn't travel.
ANyone trying to cross the wall was shot. In the first year, more than 40 killed.
Some managed to avoid the guards and escape in the early days, but security strengthened and tunnels and other inventive methods appeared.
8 border crossings set up, including Checkpoint Charlie. Visits were allowed but only with a permit. Harder to obtain permit when travelling from East to West.
Reduced number of defectors, West accepted wall with just a protest. Propaganda victory for West: communism had to use cages to stop people escaping.
Views of the Wall
1963 Kennedy visited Berlin and made famous 'Ich bin ein Berliner' speech.
Soviets claimed wall was built to prevent West Berlin agents, spies, and sabotagers.
President Kennedy relieved that Soviets did not attack West Berlin.
Importance of the Wall
Reduced number of deflections. 5,000 successful escapes compared to previous 3 million.
Propaganda victory for Americans, shooting of people added to criticism of the tyranny of communist rule.
Stabilised economy of East Germany, only one currency. Government had greater control of East Berlin citizens.
Settled peacefully, did not want to go to war because of Berlin. Overcame criticism with success when expected to be aggressive.
End of plans for united Germany, no fear of repeated Berlin Blockade. USSR gave up on West Berlin.
Removed area of likely conflict between superpowers.
Official number of deaths trying to cross wall is 136, some say 200+.