One of many memorials to those who died at the Berlin Wall
There were numerous deaths at the Berlin Wall, which stood as a barrier between West Berlin and East Germany from 13 August 1961 until 9 November 1989. Before the rise of the Berlin Wall in 1961, 3.5 million East Germans circumvented Eastern Bloc emigration restrictions, many by crossing over the border from East Berlin into West Berlin, from where they could then travel to West Germany and other Western European countries. Between 1961 and 1989, the Wall prevented almost all such emigration.
The state-funded Centre for Contemporary History (ZZF) in Potsdam has confirmed at least 140 deaths, including people attempting to escape, border guards, and innocent parties. However, researchers at the Checkpoint Charlie Museum and some others had estimated the death toll to be significantly higher.
The escape attempts claimed the lives of a wide variety of people, from a child as young as one to an 80-year-old woman, and many died because of the accidental or illegal actions of the guards. In numerous legal cases throughout the 1990s, several border guards, along with political officials responsible for the defence policies, were found guilty of manslaughter and served probation or were jailed for their role in the Berlin Wall deaths. Out of an estimated number of 5,000 escapees, a total of 239 people died while trying to cross the Berlin Wall.