Thứ Tư, Tháng Sáu 19, 2024
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HomeLISTENING The rise and the fall of Berlin Wall

[Mp4] The rise and the fall of Berlin Wall


In the early hours of August 13, 1961, East German construction workers flanked by soldiers and police began tearing up streets and erecting barriers throughout the city of Berlin and its surroundings. That night marked the beginning of one of history’s most infamous dividing lines, the Berlin Wall. Construction on the wall continued for the next decade as it cut through neighborhoods, separated families, and divided not just Germany, but the world.


To understand how we got to this point, we have to go back to World War II. America, Britain, and France joined forces with the Soviet Union against the Axis Powers. After they defeated Nazi Germany, each of the victorious nations occupied part of the country. The division was meant to be temporary, but the former allies found themselves at odds over their visions for post-war Europe. While Western powers promoted liberal market economies, the Soviet Union sought to surround itself with obedient Communist nations, including a weakened Germany.


As their relations deteriorated, the Federal Republic of Germany was formed in the West while the Soviets established the German Democratic Republic in the East. The Soviet satellite countries restricted Western trade and movement, so a virtually impassable border formed. It became known as the Iron Curtain.


In the former German capital of Berlin, things were particularly complicated. Although the city lay fully within the East German territory of the GDR, the post-war agreement gave the allies joint administration. So America, Britain, and France created a Democratic enclave in Berlin’s western districts. While East Germans were officially banned from leaving the country, in Berlin, it was simply a matter of walking, or riding a subway, streetcar or bus, to the Western half, then traveling on to West Germany or beyond.


This open border posed a problem for the East German leadership. They had staked a claim to represent the Communist resistance against Hitler and portrayed Western Germany as a continuation of the Nazi regime. While the U.S. and its allies poured money into West Germany’s reconstruction, the Soviet Union extracted resources from the East as war reparations, making its planned economy even less competitive.


Life in East Germany passed under the watchful eye of the Stasi, the secret police whose wiretaps and informants monitored citizens for any hint of disloyalty.


While there was free health care and education in the East, the West boasted higher salaries, more consumer goods, and greater personal freedom. By 1961, about 3.5 million people, nearly 20% of the East German population, had left, including many young professionals. To prevent further losses, East Germany decided to close the border, and that’s where the Berlin Wall came in.


Extending for 43 kilometers through Berlin, and a further 112 through East Germany, the initial barrier consisted of barbed wire and mesh fencing. Some Berliners escaped by jumping over the wire or leaving from windows, but as the wall expanded, this became more difficult. By 1965, 106 kilometers of 3.6-meter-high concrete barricades had been added topped with a smooth pipe to prevent climbing.


Over the coming years, the barrier was strengthened with spike strips, guard dogs, and even landmines, along with 302 watchtowers and 20 bunkers. A parallel fence in the rear set off a 100-meter area called the death strip. There, all buildings were demolished and the ground covered with sand to provide a clear line of sight for the hundreds of guards ordered to shoot anyone attempting to cross.


Nevertheless, nearly 5,000 people in total managed to flee East Germany between 1961 and 1989. Some were diplomats or athletes who defected while abroad, but others were ordinary citizens who dug tunnels, swam across canals, flew hot air balloons, or even crashed a stolen tank through the wall. Yet the risk was great. Over 138 people died while attempting escape. Some shot in full view of West Germans powerless to help them. The wall stabilized East Germany’s economy by preventing its work force from leaving, but tarnished its reputation, becoming a global symbol of Communist repression.


As part of reconciliation with the East, the Basic Treaty of 1972 recognized East Germany pragmatically while West Germany retained its hope for eventual reunification. Although the Eastern regime gradually allowed family visits, it tried to discourage people from exercising these rights with an arduous bureaucratic process and high fees. Nonetheless, it was still overwhelmed by applications.


By the end of the 1980s, the liberalization of other Eastern Bloc regimes caused mass demonstrations for free travel and demands for democracy. On the evening of November 9, 1989, East Germany tried to defuse tension by making travel permits easier to obtain. But the announcement brought thousands of East Berliners to the border crossing points in the wall, forcing the surprised guards to open the gates immediately.


Rejoicing crowds poured into West Berlin as people from both sides danced atop the wall. And others began to demolish it with whatever tools they could find. Although the border guards initially tried to maintain order, it was soon clear that the years of division were at an end. After four decades, Germany was officially reunified in October 1990. And the Soviet Union fell soon after.


Today, parts of the wall still stand as a reminder that any barriers we put up to impede freedom, we can also break down.



construction worker (n): công nhân xây dựng

flank  /flæŋk/ (v): bao quanh, kèm (quân sự)

soldier /ˈsəʊl.dʒər/ [B1] (n): binh lính

tear sth up (PhrV): phá hủy cái gì

erect /ɪˈrekt/ (v): xây dựng

barrier /ˈbær.i.ər/ [B2] (n): rào chắn

mark /mɑːk/ (v): đánh dấu

infamous /ˈɪn.fə.məs/ (adj): tai tiếng

join/combine forces [C2] (phrase): hợp lực

the Soviet Union /ˌsəʊ.vi.ət ˈjuː.nj.ən/ (n): Liên Xô

Axis Powers /ˈæk.sɪs paʊ.əz/ (n): Phe Trục

Nazi Germany (n): Đức Quốc xã

victorious /vɪkˈtɔː.ri.əs/ (adj): chiến thắng

occupy /ˈɒk.jə.paɪ/ [C1] (v): chiếm

temporary  /ˈtem.pər.ər.i/ [B1] (adj): tạm thời

ally /ˈæl.aɪ/ [C2] (n): đồng minh

at odds (with sb/sth) (idiom): trong tình trạng mâu thuẫn với ai/cái gì

power /paʊər/ [C1] (n): cường quốc

promote /prəˈməʊt/ [B2] (v): đẩy mạnh

liberal market economy (n): nền kinh tế thị trường thị do

seek to do sth (PhrV): nỗ lực làm gì

obedient /əˈbiː.di.ənt/ (adj): nghe lời

Communist  /ˈkɒm.jə.nɪst/ (adj): Cộng sản

weaken /ˈwiː.kən/ [C1] (v): yếu đi

deteriorate /dɪˈtɪə.ri.ə.reɪt/ [C1] (v): làm cho xấu đi

Federal Republic of Germany (n): Cộng hòa Liên bang Đức

establish /ɪˈstæb.lɪʃ/ [B2] (v): thành lập

German Democratic Republic (n): Cộng hòa Dân chủ Đức

satellite country (n): quốc gia vệ tinh

restrict /rɪˈstrɪkt/ [C1] (v): hạn chế

virtually /ˈvɜː.tʃu.ə.li/ [B2] (adv): gần như

impassable  /ɪmˈpɑː.sə.bəl/ (adj): không thể vượt qua

Iron Curtain (n): Bức màn Sắt

complicated /ˈkɒm.plɪ.keɪ.tɪd/ [B1] (adj): phức tạp

territory /ˈter.ɪ.tər.i/ [B2] (n): lãnh thổ

agreement /əˈɡriː.mənt/ [B2] (n): thỏa thuận

joint /dʒɔɪnt/ [B2] (adj): chung

administration /ədˌmɪn.ɪˈstreɪ.ʃən/ [C2] (n): sự quản lý

enclave /ˈeŋ.kleɪv/ (n): vùng đất bị bao quanh bởi nhiều vùng đất khác

district /ˈdɪs.trɪkt/ [B1] (n): quận

pose a problem (collo): đặt ra vấn đề

the leadership /ˈliː.də.ʃɪp/ [C1] (n): giới lãnh đạo

stake a claim (to sth) (idiom): tuyên bố mình có quyền với cái gì

represent /ˌrep.rɪˈzent/ [C2] (v): đại diện

resistance /rɪˈzɪs.təns/ [C2] (n): cuộc kháng chiến

portray /pɔːˈtreɪ/ [C2] (v): miêu tả

regime /reɪˈʒiːm/ [C2] (n): chế độ

reconstruction /ˌriː.kənˈstrʌk.ʃən/ [C1] (n): sự tái thiết

extract /ɪkˈstrækt/ [B2] (v): khai thác, chiết

resource /rɪˈzɔːs/ [B2] (n): tài nguyên

reparations (n): bồi thường thiệt hại chiến tranh (vì thua trận)

planned economy /ˌplænd ɪˈkɒn.ə.mi/ (n): nền kinh tế kế hoạch

competitive /kəmˈpet.ɪ.tɪv/ [B2] (adj): cạnh tranh

watchful /ˈwɒtʃ.fəl/ (adj): cảnh giác, đề phòng

eye /aɪ/ (n): sự giám sát

wiretap/ˈwaɪə.tæp/ (n): máy nghe lén

informant  /ɪnˈfɔː.mənt/ (n): người cung cấp thông tin

monitor /ˈmɒn.ɪ.tər/ [C1] (v): giám sát

boast /bəʊst/ [B2] (v): tự hào, khoe khoang

disloyalty /ˌdɪsˈlɔɪ.əl.ti/ (n): sự không trung thực

initial  /ɪˈnɪʃ.əl/ [B2] (adj): ban đầu

barbed wire /ˌbɑːbd ˈwaɪər/ (n): dây thép gai

escape /ɪˈskeɪp/ [B1] (v): trốn thoát

expand /ɪkˈspænd/ [B2] (v): mở rộng

concrete /ˈkɒŋ.kriːt/ [B2] (n): bê tông

barricade /ˈbær.ɪ.keɪd/ (n): hàng rào, chướng ngại vật

spike /spaɪk/ (n): gai (dây thép)

strip /strɪp/ [C1] (n): dải (đất…)

landmine  /ˈlænd.maɪn/ (n): mìn đất

watchtower /ˈwɒtʃˌtaʊər/ (n): tháp quan sát

bunker /ˈbʌŋ.kər/ (n): hầm trú ẩn

parallel /ˈpær.ə.lel/ (adj): song song

the rear /rɪər/ [C1] (n): phía sau

set sth off [C2] (PhrV): tạo ra, gây ra

demolish  /dɪˈmɒl.ɪʃ/ [B2] (v): phá hủy

order /ˈɔː.dər/ [B2] (v): ra lệnh

attempt to do sth (PhrV): cố gắng làm gì

nevertheless  /ˌnev.ə.ðəˈles/ [B2] (adv): dẫu vậy

manage to do sth (PhrV): thành công làm điều gì

flee /fliː/ [C1] (v): trốn chạy

diplomat  /ˈdɪp.lə.mæt/ [B2] (n): nhà ngoại giao

athlete /ˈæθ.liːt/ [B1] (n): vận động viên

defect /ˈdiː.fekt/ (v): đào tẩu

ordinary /ˈɔː.dən.əri/ [B1] (adj): thường

in full view (phrase): được trông thấy bởi người khác

stabilize  /ˈsteɪ.bəl.aɪz/ (v): ổn định

work force (n): lực lượng lao động

tarnish /ˈtɑː.nɪʃ/ (v): làm tổn hại

reputation /ˌrep.jəˈteɪ.ʃən/ [B2] (n): danh tiếng

repression /rɪˈpreʃ.ən/ (n): sự đàn áp

reconciliation /ˌrek.ənˌsɪl.iˈeɪ.ʃən/ (n): sự hòa giải

treaty /ˈtriː.ti/ [C2] (n): hiệp ước

recognize /ˈrek.əɡ.naɪz/ [B2] (v): công nhận

pragmatically /præɡˈmæt.ɪ.kəl.i/ (adv): thực tế

retain hope (collo): nuôi hy vọng

eventual /ɪˈven.tʃu.əl/ [C2] (adj): cuối cùng

reunification /ˌriː.juː.nɪ.fɪˈkeɪ.ʃən/ (n): sự thống nhất

prevent sb/sth from doing sth (PhrV): ngăn ai/cái gì làm gì

arduous /ˈɑː.dʒu.əs/ (adj): gian khổ

bureaucratic /ˌbjʊə.rəˈkræt.ɪk/ (adj): quan liêu

nonetheless /ˌnʌn.ðəˈles/ [C1] (adv): dù vậy

overwhelm /ˌəʊ.vəˈwelm/ (v): tràn ngập, quá tải

liberalization /ˌlɪb.ər.əl.aɪˈzeɪ.ʃən/ (n): sự tự do hóa

mass /mæs/ [C1] (adj): nhiều, hàng loạt

demonstration /ˌdem.ənˈstreɪ.ʃən/ [B2] (n): biểu tình

democracy /dɪˈmɒk.rə.si/ [B2] (n): nền dân chủ

defuse /ˌdiːˈfjuːz/ (v): xoa dịu

tension /ˈten.ʃən/ [B2] (n): sự căng thẳng

permit  /ˈpɜː.mɪt/ [C1] (n): giấy phép

rejoicing /rɪˈdʒɔɪ.sɪŋ/ (adj): hân hoan

impede /ɪmˈpiːd/ (v): ngăn cản


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