45 Facts About West Berlin


West Berlin was directly or indirectly represented in its federal institutions.

FactSnippet No. 480,555

West Berlin was formally controlled by the Western Allies and entirely surrounded by the Soviet-controlled East Berlin and East Germany.

FactSnippet No. 480,556

West Berlin had great symbolic significance during the Cold War, as it was widely considered by westerners an "island of freedom" and America's most loyal counterpart in Europe.

FactSnippet No. 480,557

On 3 October 1990, the day Germany was officially reunified, East and West Berlin formally reunited, joined the Federal Republic as a city-state and, eventually, became the capital of Germany.

FactSnippet No. 480,558

In 1948, the Soviets tried to force the Western Allies out of Berlin by imposing a land blockade on the western sectors—the Berlin Blockade.

FactSnippet No. 480,559

The West responded by using its air corridors for supplying their part of the city with food and other goods through the Berlin Airlift.

FactSnippet No. 480,560

However, because the occupation of West Berlin could be ended only by a quadripartite agreement, West Berlin remained an occupied territory under the formal sovereignty of the allies.

FactSnippet No. 480,561

On 4 August 1950, the House of Representatives, the city's legislature, passed a new constitution, declaring West Berlin to be a state of the Federal Republic and the provisions of the Basic Law as binding law superior to West Berlin state law.

FactSnippet No. 480,562

Article 87 is interpreted as meaning that during the transitional period West Berlin shall possess none of the attributes of a twelfth Land.

FactSnippet No. 480,563

Male residents of West Berlin were exempt from the Federal Republic's compulsory military service.

FactSnippet No. 480,564

In many ways, West Berlin functioned as the de facto 11th state of West Germany and was depicted on maps published in the West as being a part of West Germany.

FactSnippet No. 480,565

West Berlin remained under military occupation until 3 October 1990, the day of unification of East Germany, East and West Berlin with Federal Republic of Germany.

FactSnippet No. 480,566

On maps of East Berlin, West Berlin often did not appear as an adjacent urban area but as a monochrome terra incognita, sometimes showing the letters WB, meaning West Berlin, or overlaid with a legend or pictures.

FactSnippet No. 480,567

Since West Berlin was not a sovereign state, it did not issue passports.

FactSnippet No. 480,568

Active immigration and asylum politics in West Berlin triggered waves of immigration in the 1960s and 1970s.

FactSnippet No. 480,569

West Berlin was a destination for many people fleeing East Germany both before and after the construction of the Berlin Wall.

FactSnippet No. 480,570

These different naming conventions for the divided parts of West Berlin, when followed by individuals, governments, or media, commonly indicated their political leanings, with the centre-right Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung using "Ost-West Berlin" and the centre-left Suddeutsche Zeitung using "Ostberlin".

FactSnippet No. 480,571

NATO took an increased interest in the specific issue related to West Berlin, and drafted plans to ensure to defend the city against an eventual attack from the East.

FactSnippet No. 480,572

On 3 October 1990—the day Germany was officially reunified—East and West Berlin formally reunited as the city of Berlin, which then joined the enlarged Federal Republic as a city-state along the lines of the existing West German city-states of Bremen and Hamburg.

FactSnippet No. 480,573

City-wide elections in December 1990 resulted in the first "all Berlin" mayor being elected to take office in January 1991, with the separate offices of mayors in East and West Berlin expiring by that time, and Eberhard Diepgen became the first elected mayor of a reunited Berlin.

FactSnippet No. 480,574

West Berlin's border was identical to the municipal boundary of Berlin as defined in the Greater Berlin Act of 1920 and amended in 1938, and the border between the Soviet sector and the French, British, and American sectors respectively, which followed the boundaries of Berlin administrative boroughs as defined in the same years.

FactSnippet No. 480,575

West Berlin had its own postal administration first called Deutsche Post Berlin and then Deutsche Bundespost Berlin, separate from West Germany's Deutsche Bundespost, and issuing its own postage stamps until 1990.

FactSnippet No. 480,576

West Berlin was integrated into the West German telephone network, using the same international dialling code as West Germany, +49, with the area code 0311, later changed to 030.

FactSnippet No. 480,577

On 2 October 1967, six years after the Wall was constructed, tram tracks in West Berlin were removed because the authorities wanted to promote car usage, meaning that the tram system remaining today runs almost entirely within the former East Berlin.

FactSnippet No. 480,578

West Berlin had – with the exception of a few small private railway lines – no separate railway administration.

FactSnippet No. 480,579

West Berlin employees were trained in East Germany and employed under East German labour laws.

FactSnippet No. 480,580

The Reichsbahn ran its own hospital for them in West Berlin, the building of which is used as the headquarters of Bombardier Transportation.

FactSnippet No. 480,581

Flights between West Germany and West Berlin were under Allied control by the quadripartite Berlin Air Safety Center.

FactSnippet No. 480,582

Flights by Lufthansa or the East German airline Interflug servicing connections between East and West Berlin Germany began in August 1989, but these routes had to go through Czechoslovak or Danish airspace.

FactSnippet No. 480,583

Many church congregations in Berlin owned cemeteries outside the city, so many West Berlin congregations had cemeteries that were located in East Germany.

FactSnippet No. 480,584

On 28 August 1951, trains usually serving Berlin Lehrter Bahnhof were redirected to stations in East Berlin, while trains from West Germany were redirected to the Western Berlin Zoologischer Garten.

FactSnippet No. 480,585

These routes originated from several East German suburbs bordering West Berlin, crossing West Berlin non-stop until reaching its destinations in East Berlin.

FactSnippet No. 480,586

Commuters in the East German suburbs around West Berlin now boarded Sputnik express trains, which took them into East Berlin without crossing any western sectors.

FactSnippet No. 480,587

Rail traffic between East and West Berlin was sharply reduced and restricted to a small number of checkpoints under GDR control.

FactSnippet No. 480,588

The 'electricity island' situation was noticed most in situations of particularly high demand; in other areas of Europe peaks in demand could be met by tapping into electricity supplies from neighbouring areas, but in West Berlin this was not an option and for certain users the lights would go out.

FactSnippet No. 480,589

Free entry to East West Berlin remained possible until 1961 and the building of the Wall.

FactSnippet No. 480,590

In East German propaganda this was a point for the East, arguing that the West Berlin did not allow drivers coming with their trams from the East to continue along their line into the West Berlin, but remaining silent on the fact that the end of cross-border tram traffic was most welcome to the East.

FactSnippet No. 480,591

One-day visas for East West Berlin were now issued in a quickened procedure; visas for longer stays and visas for East Germany proper needed a prior application, which could be a lengthy procedure.

FactSnippet No. 480,592

West Berlin paid for the treatment of its sewage in Western Deutsche Marks which were desperately needed by the East German government.

FactSnippet No. 480,593

Since the methods used in the East did not meet Western standards, West Berlin increased the capacity of modern sewage treatment within its own territory, such that the amount of its sewage treated in the East had been considerably reduced by the time the Wall came down.

FactSnippet No. 480,594

The removal, burning or disposal of the ever-growing amount of West Berlin's rubbish became a costly problem, but here too an agreement was found since West Berlin would pay in Western Deutsche Marks.

FactSnippet No. 480,595

The lines were separated and those mostly located in West Berlin were continued, but only accessible from West Berlin with all access in East Berlin closed.

FactSnippet No. 480,596

Finally, the Reichsbahn agreed to surrender operation of the S-Bahn in West Berlin, as had been determined by all Allies in 1945, and on 29 December 1983 the Allies, the Senate of Berlin and the Reichsbahn signed an agreement to change the operator from Reichsbahn to BVG (West) which took effect on 9 January 1984.

FactSnippet No. 480,597

Eastern controls were slowly eased into spot checks and finally abolished on 30 June 1990, the day East and West Berlin introduced the union concerning currency, economy and social security.

FactSnippet No. 480,598

Passengers could change there between U 6, S 2 and the elevated S 3 or for the transit trains to West Germany, buy duty-free tobacco and liquor for Western marks in GDR-run Intershop kiosks, or enter East Berlin through a checkpoint right in the station.

FactSnippet No. 480,599