Tony Barber at the Financial Times:
From its construction in 1961 to its destruction in 1989, the Berlin Wall was the world’s most compelling symbol of the moral and material bankruptcy of communism. Other dictatorships, from Albania to North Korea, laid mines and put up barbed wire to stop their oppressed peoples from fleeing to freedom. But no monument to incarceration was more visible and damning of its creators than the Wall, a hideous 156km-long complex of watchtowers, searchlights, anti-tank obstacles, dog patrols and ditches that cut through the once bustling centre of the historic German capital.
East German border guards, with the support of their Soviet-backed masters, fired upon scores of people who tried to escape over the Wall. They were responsible, during its 28-year life, for 136 Wall-related shootings and other deaths. Hundreds more were killed on the inner German border that divided West Germany from East Germany (the German Democratic Republic, or GDR). Right to the end, the East German communist party stuck to the brazen lies that there was no official policy of shooting would-be escapees, and that the Wall’s sole purpose was to repulse an attack from the “imperialist” west.