How the destruction of the Berlin Wall ended the cold war and helped reunify the world.


This is a small piece of the wall that divided Berlin.

Olivia Howell, Copy Editor and Opinion-Editorial Editor

The current generation has never witnessed the fear and panic that the possibility of nuclear war created. Our history classes have never explained it yet it is one of the most defining times in the nation’s modern history. 

The tensions really started with the end of World War II. The Allied powers decided to split Europe so that no Nazi powers could gain control again. The USSR (communist) gained the Eastern part of Europe and the rest of the powers (non-communist) controlled the rest of Europe. 

The non-communist powers were afraid that communism would spread and that it would endanger the rest of Europe. They banded together to create NATO to present a united front against communism. This made the communist USSR create the Warsaw Pact. 

The tension between the two became so impassible that it created the Iron Curtain, an imaginary line that separated the communist and anti-communist sections of Europe. 

At this time the United States adopted the Marshall Plan. It provided aid to European countries, but its real purpose was to bribe countries into staying non-communist. 

China became communist and started spreading communism into North Korea. This started the Korean war. The same thing happened later in Vietnam and started another war. This affected the lives of millions of Americans. 

The next major event in the cold war was the successful launch of sputnik. Sputnik was the very first satellite to orbit the Earth. This would normally be a huge advancement for science and humankind, but we were in the cold war.

Americans were afraid that the Russian satellite would spy on them or drop bombs on them. The most important realization due to Sputnik was the failure of the American education system. It was realized that the American Education System did not put enough emphasis on math and science and had created a deficit in the science field. You have the cold war to thank for STEM. 

This started the space race. This race truly elevated the level of technology gained in a period of time. Humanity went from the first computer to the moon in 130 years. For reference, it took 1.9 million years from the discovery of fire to make bronze. 

The space race only further raised tensions. One night in the early hours of the morning, The communist government in East Berlin started building a wall that separated the two parts of the city. There was no warning to the citizens of the city, so some people had gone to visit the opposite sides of the city and were not able to return home because of the wall. There are pictures of people jumping and throwing possessions out of windows to escape to the other side of the city before the wall was built. 

This wall remained up for almost 30 years, until Ronald Reagan persuaded the President of the Soviet Union, Michael Gorbachev, to open up to the rest of the world. 

This was truly the ending moment of the cold war. With this one move, tensions eased all over the world. It showed the rest of the world that Russia was no longer as powerful or as aggressive as at their height in the cold war. 

While the US and Russia have not been true allies since then, there is no longer a hysteria over nuclear war. 

This event allowed two separated halves of the world after almost 30 years of hostility.