Lesson Plan: Events Leading to the Building of the Berlin Wall

The Division of Germany and Berlin after World War II

This 1962 film documents Germany and the city of Berlin after World War II. It highlights the factors that led to the division of Germany and the city of Berlin.


This lesson uses archival films developed by NATO, the United States and the United Kingdom to explain the events contributing to the building of the Berlin Wall. Students will develop a graphic organizer that illustrates these important events and explain the factors that led to the building of the Berlin Wall.


  • WARM-UP:

    Before beginning the class, have the students brainstorm answers to the following question:

    • Which countries were allied at the end of World War II?

    • Describe how World War II ended in Europe.

    • What do you know about the Berlin Wall?

    After students have a general understanding of alliances and ending of World War II in Europe, have the students research define or review the following terms and concepts:

    • Communism

    • Iron Curtain

    • Joint Occupation

    • Refugee

    • Soviet Union

    • Unification

    • Western Allies

    Once students have a working understanding of the vocabulary terms listed above, students should view each of the following video clips. Students can use the handout below to access the videos and charts. They should describe the differences between East and West Berlin and summarize the major events that led to the building of the Berlin Wall. Student can also use the guiding questions associated with each video clip.

    HANDOUT: Events Leading to the Berlin Wall (Google Doc)

  • VIDEO CLIP 1: The Division of Germany and Berlin after World War II (5:37)

    • How was Germany divided after World War II? Why did they do this?
    • How did the allied powers divide control of the city of Berlin?
    • Who controlled the area in Germany where Berlin was located? Why was this a potential problem?

    • What occurred after the first election in Berlin?

    • What was meant by the term “Iron Curtain?”

    • What actions did the Soviets take to increase their influence in Berlin?

    • Why did the Soviet Union cut off West Berlin?
  • VIDEO CLIP 2: The Berlin Airlift (3:17)

    • How did the separation of East Germany impact residents of West Berlin?

    • How did the United States, France, and Britain supply West Berlin?

    • What risks did the U.S., Britain and France face with the Berlin Airlift?

    • Describe the success of the Berlin Airlift.
  • VIDEO CLIP 3: Travel Out of East Berlin (3:57)

    • Describe the type and amount of travel that was occurring between the different sectors of Berlin after the Berlin Airlift.

    • Describe the movement out of East Germany and the reasons for leaving.

    • What were the differences between the eastern and western sectors of Berlin?

    • How did the three western powers cooperate to balance Soviet control in Germany?
  • VIDEO CLIP 4: The Building of the Berlin Wall (5:15)

    • What actions did Soviet premier Nikita Krushchev take prior to the building of the Berlin Wall?

    • What was the purpose of separating East and West Berlin?

    • How did many residents of East Berlin respond to the division of Berlin?

    • How did the western allies provide support to West Berlin? How did this compare to the Soviet Union?
  • VIDEO CLIP 5: The Wall (5:20)

    • Describe the physical appearance of the Berlin Wall.

    • How did the Berlin Wall impact the lives of individuals and families?

    • What tactics did residents of East Berlin use to escape?

    • How did the Soviets attempt to prevent refugees from leaving?

    Using the notes from the handout, have the students develop a graphic organizer that illustrates and explains the significance of at least five significant events that led to the building of the Berlin Wall. Students should explain how each event contributed to the eventual building of the Berlin Wall. Students are encouraged to be creative in how they represent the information on the graphic organizer.


    As an exit slip or similar summative assessment, have the students answer the following prompt:

    • Using evidence from the video clips, why was the Berlin Wall built? Answer this question by exploring the factors and events that contributed to its creation.

    Mapping the City of Berlin- Using the article from City Metric, view the maps included in the article. Based on this information, how did East and West Berliners use map to represent the city differently. How did their representations reflect the politics and events occurring at the time.

    Berlin Wall RAFT Writing- Write a letter from the perspective of someone at the time. In your letter, include your role, audience, form and topic (RAFT). Choose between the following options:

    • Resident of East Berlin

    • Resident of West Berlin

    • Soviet soldier

    • American/British/French soldier

    • How might the Soviets view the events leading to the creation of the Berlin Wall differently than the United States?

    • Was the closing off of West Berlin inevitable?

    • How did NATO, the U.S., and the UK use propaganda videos like these as a tool to fight communism?

    • How did the city of Berlin change from 1945 to 1961?

    • Describe how the wall changed the lives of residents of East and West Berlin.

Additional Resources


  • Allied Powers
  • Berlin
  • Berlin Airlift
  • Brandenburg Gate
  • Britain
  • Civilians
  • Cold War
  • Communism
  • Communist
  • East Berlin
  • East Germany
  • Exodus
  • France
  • Iron Curtain
  • Joint Occupation
  • Joseph Stalin
  • Nikita Khrushchev
  • Red Army
  • Refugee
  • Regime
  • Sector
  • Sovereign State
  • Soviet Union
  • Unification
  • United Nations
  • West Berlin
  • Zones Of Power


U.S. HistoryWorld History


Middle SchoolHigh School