Glencoe World History: Modern Times
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Chapter 21: The Contemporary Western World, 1970–Present
"The Fall of the Berlin Wall"

The fall of the Berlin Wall followed a period of much suffering in East and West Berlin. In this activity students will learn about conditions in the divided city, and how events in the Soviet Union and in East Germany led to a swift decision to tear down the wall and reunify Berlin.

Lesson Description
Students will go to the Concrete Curtain Web site to read about the Berlin Wall and its fall. After answering a series of questions about the Berlin Wall, students will write manifestos from the perspective of an East Berliner who is calling for democracy and the tearing down of the wall in 1989.

Instructional Objectives

  1. Students will be able to describe the events that led to the building and, eventually, the fall of the Berlin Wall.
  2. Students will be able to apply what they have learned by writing a manifesto calling for democracy and the tearing down of the Berlin Wall.

Student Web Activity Answers

  1. Krushchev and the East German authorities closed the border between East and West Germany in response to the flight of thousands of East Germans to the West.
  2. The wall was designed primarily to stop people from escaping to West Berlin. However, the East German government claimed the Wall was an "antifascist wall of protection" designed to protect East Berlin from Western aggression. Erich Honnecker, in particular, referred to the need to block Western espionage and intrigue.
  3. The "kiss of death" for East Germany, according to the authors, was Gorbachev's announcement in 1989 that he was abandoning the Brezhnev Doctrine. This doctrine had prevented democratic transformation in the Soviet Union's satellite states in Eastern Europe.
  4. Inside East Germany, opposition groups with church backing began pressuring the East German government for liberalization. Gorbachev, during a visit marking the fortieth anniversary of the establishment of East Germany, also signaled that it was time for change.
  5. Students' manifestos will vary but should incorporate points about democracy and communist ideology as well as details from the Web site about the difficulties of life in East Germany and East Berlin under communism.

Go To Student Web Activity


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