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1.  “The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 signaled the end of the Cold War and the end of history as we knew it.” Analyze the causes and the consequences of the fall of the Berlin Wall.


  • The Berlin Wall (1961-1989) was an important symbol of the Cold War marking the separation of West Berlin and East Berlin. It signified ideological separation of the Western capitalist bloc led by USA and Europe and the Eastern Communist bloc led by USSR. The Berlin wall finally fell on 9th November, 1989 marking an end of the history. The causes for the fall of the Berlin wall can be seen as:
  1. Stressed communist bloc: Acute economic problem and food shortage in 1980s in the Soviet Union symbolised that the communist bloc was on the verge of collapse.
  2. The Sinatra doctrine:
  3. a) The ‘Sinatra doctrine’, as opposed to Brezhnev doctrine, allowed more autonomy to the Eastern bloc countries to decide their own internal affairs.
  4. b) Also, the doctrine meant that the Soviet Union did not come to the aid of East German communists when the citizens of East Germany protested.
  5. Opening of borders by Hungary to Austria: Consequently, Hungary opened its borders to Austria and many thousands fled across the iron curtain towards the west. Many people from East Germany also fled towards west via the route of Hungary.
  6. Widespread socio-economic disparities: People of West Berlin were relatively well off and prosperous. On the contrary, East Germany was affected by food shortages and poverty.
  7. Policies of Mikhail Gorbachev: Mikhail Gorbachev’s policies of “glasnost” (openness) and “perestroika” (restructuring) also paved the way for the fall of the Berlin wall.
  8. Removal of travel restrictions: Civil unrest across East Germany put pressure on the East Germany administration to loosen some travel restrictions.

The fall of Berlin Wall marks a watershed movement in the course of events during the Cold War and had far reaching implications, such as:

  1. The ideological rift/conflict symbolized by the cold war between the ideologies of capitalism and socialism was decided in the favor of capitalism.
  2. The grip of Russia over the erstwhile Soviet members and its allies loosened. Eg, Yugoslavia split into six nations; Czechoslovakia broke into two countries.
  3. The appeal of socialism diluted across the world and was replaced by market led growth.
  4. The paradigm of democracy and human rights deepened, both in the West and the erstwhile socialist states.
  5. Geopolitically, the bipolar global order made way for a unipolar. While the Russia retreated as a super power, the United States of America emerged as the sole global superpower.
  6. Economic reforms took place as many countries opened up their economies in post 1990 era.

Even though the fall of Berlin wall is cited by experts as leading to end of history, it will not be accurate to call it so, as:

  1. The end of ideological war has been followed by a ‘clash of civilizations’. E.g., rise in the issues surrounding cultural and religious identities.
  2. As per experts, the rise of China in the global arena is challenging the position of USA as the global superpower. E.g., China’s unilateral rise in the Indo-Pacific.
  3. A rapid rise seen in the activities of non-state actors like terrorist groups challenges the idea of end of history. E.g., rise of ISIS, religious fundamentalists etc.
  4. The global order is fast embracing the multipolar realities. E.g., emerging powers like India, Brazil, South Africa etc.

The fall of Berlin Wall was a very important event in the history of world. Its geo-political, economical and strategic implications were far reaching that are reflected even today in the 21st century

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