Berlin Wall Lesson Plans
Berlin Wall lesson plans can teach students how this barrier divided a country and why it gained so much international attention.
By Carrie Jackson
Germany is a country that has a long history. Major historical events, including the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, occurred in Germany. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the event which made international headlines. The Berlin Wall, that once divided the eastern and western portions of the country, came down.
After World War II, Germany experienced many changes that shaped and divided the country in numerous ways. Between the years of 1945-1991, the world went through the Cold War. During this time, the United States and the USSR were competing for economic, political and military control in various parts of the world. Germany was one of the areas heavily affected by this competition. While one part of Germany was under German control, the other was governed by the Soviet Union.
The Berlin Blockade was another turning point for the country. During 1948-1949 the eastern part of Berlin was blocked by the Soviet Union. The blockade was unsuccessful, and allied forces airlifted food and other supplies to help people located on the other side of the blockade.
In 1961, East and West Berlin were divided by a wall that was constructed to separate the city. The Berlin Wall was built to block Allied forces from controlling parts of Germany. The wall was originally made with barbed wire, but quickly was replaced with concrete. The wall had checkpoints along it so that citizens could not freely pass between East and West Berlin. The wall was continuously guarded, which made it almost impossible for individuals to get across.
On November 9th, 1989 people from Berlin rejoiced in the streets when the government officially announced that the wall would come down, and they could pass freely. Immediately following that announcement, steps were taken to reunite Germany. People in Germany have celebrated this historic event in many ways. Here is a clip to a theatrical group's performance to celebrate the Fall of the Berlin Wall. What follows are some lesson plans that involve a discussion of the Berlin War and related topics.
Berlin Wall Lesson Plans:
The Cold War and Beyond- This two part lesson plan offers insight into the Cold War and the Arms Race. The focus of these lessons is on the people who influenced policies duties the Cold War. Students will learn about the roles of President Ronald Reagan and the President of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics Mikhail Gorbachev.
The Formation of the Western Alliance- This lesson details the Berlin blockade and airlift of 1948-49. Students will read primary sources and view photographs connected to this period in history. Students will also learn about the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Tolerance in Times of Trial- Students will examine the treatment of German and Japanese citizens in the United States during World War II. Students will also look at surrounding ethnic conflicts, discrimination, and stereotyping.
The Great War- Students will learn about the motives for the Treaty of Versailles. They will also examine how Germany responded to this treaty. In addition, students will discuss how the details of the treaty contributed to the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany.
Mock Nuremberg Trials- This lesson focuses on the Nuremburg Trials after the Holocaust. Students will develop an understanding of the term "crimes against humanity". Students will also create skits and re-create the trials.