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This Happened

This Happened — August 13: Construction Of Berlin Wall Begins

The construction of the Berlin Wall began on this day in 1961. It was constructed by the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) to prevent residents from escaping to West Berlin. It was intended in particular to halt the mass exodus of skilled laborers, professionals, and intellectuals from East to West, which was causing economic and political problems for the East German government.

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How was the Berlin Wall constructed?

The Berlin Wall was initially a barbed wire fence that was quickly replaced with a more substantial structure. It consisted of concrete walls, guard towers, anti-vehicle trenches, and a "death strip" made out of sand, gravel, tripwires, and other obstacles. Over time, the wall was reinforced and expanded, becoming more fortified and difficult to breach.

What were the consequences of the construction of the Berlin Wall?

The construction of the Berlin Wall had profound consequences on the city of Berlin and the German people. It physically separated families, friends, and communities, and symbolized the ideological divide between East and West during the Cold War. It led to increased tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union and solidified the division between East and West Germany.

How long did the Berlin Wall stand?

The Berlin Wall stood for nearly 28 years, from 1961 until its fall in 1989. It became a powerful symbol of the division between East and West and a focal point of international politics during the Cold War.

What led to the fall of the Berlin Wall?

The fall of the Berlin Wall was the result of a combination of factors, including widespread public discontent, mass protests, and political changes in East Germany and other Eastern Bloc countries. The opening of the wall on November 9, 1989, marked a significant moment in history and paved the way for the reunification of Germany in 1990.

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FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War

India, That (Imperfect) Template For A Two-State Solution

At the moment, a two-state solution to end the conflict between Israel and Palestine seems impossible. But should a miracle occur, there is one example that, although not perfect, could serve as a model to build a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural federation: the ethno-federal democracy of India.

Photo of a cCrowd in New Delhi, India

Crowd in New Delhi, India

Prem Shankar Jha*


NEW DELHI — In a televised news conference on October 28, Israel’s President Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Israel had opened a “new phase” in the war by sending ground forces into Gaza and expanding attacks from the ground, air and sea. It’s “very clear objective” he said, was destroying Hamas’s military and governing capabilities. A past master at depicting every Israeli act of oppression as defense, he linked Hamas’s October 7 attack to the Holocaust and roared ,“We always said, ‘Never again’. Never again is now.”

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