Creation of Berlin Wall

After the Soviet Union took over the entire eastern portion of Europe, many people attempted escape through West Berlin, the only outpost of democracy in Eastern Europe.  The Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev, demanded that West Berlin be turned over to the East (and placed under Soviet control).

The situation escalated to the point that American president, John F. Kennedy, increased military spending and increased troop strength.  Tanks were positioned in Berlin. War with the Soviet Union seemed possible. 

Then Nikita Khrushchev did something unexpected: he built a wall around West Berlin in 1961, starting in August of that year. This wall stretched for 87 miles and became a glaring, physical symbol of the Cold War.  This wall made it even harder for people to escape the communist regime of the Soviet Union.

The Building of the Berlin Wall, 1961
(Public Domain)
Berlin Wall, 1986
(Credit:Noir at the German language Wikipedia
Creative Commons 3.0)