The Berlin wall divided families who found themselves unable to visit each other. Many East Berliners were cut off from their jobs. West Berliners demonstrated against the wall and their mayor Willy Brandt led the criticism against the United States who they felt had failed to respond.

The East German government claimed the wall was an 'anti-fascist protection barrier' (antifaschistischer Schutzwall) intended to dissuade aggression from the West, despite the fact that all the wall's defences pointed inward to East German territory.

This view was viewed with scepticism even in East Germany. The wall had caused many families considerable hardship and the western view was that the wall was a means of preventing the people of East Germany from entering West Berlin was widely seen as being the truth.

During the wall's existence there were around 5000 successful escapes into West Berlin. Varying reports claim that either 192 or 239 people were killed trying to cross the wall and many more were injured.

Early successful attempts involved people jumping over the barbed wire fence or leaping from the windows of the apartments that lined the wall. These building were soon boarded up and then demolished.

Later successful attempts include long tunnels, sliding along aerial wires, flying ultra lights and even driving under a checkpoint barrier in a very low sports car. East Berliners became very ingenious in their attempts to flee to the West but sadly many attempts ended in tragedy. One of the most notorious failed attempts occurred on August 17 1962 when Peter Fechter who was shot and left to die in full view of the western media. The last person to be killed whilst trying to flee was Chris Gueffroy on February 6 1989.