The Berlin Wall and the Battle for Legitimacy in Divided Germany

Pertti Ahonen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Berlin Wall was a key site of contestation between the Federal Republic and the German Democratic Republic in their Cold War struggle over political legitimacy. On both sides, the Wall became a tool in intense publicity battles aimed at building legitimacy and collective identity at home, and undermining them in the other Germany. The public perceptions and politicized uses of the barrier evolved through stages that reflected the relative fortunes of the two German states, moving gradually from extensive East-West parallels in the early 1960s toward a growing divergence by the 1970s and 1980s, which became increasingly indicative of East Germany's weakness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-56
Number of pages17
JournalGerman Politics and Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2011


  • Berlin wall
  • German Democratic Republic (GDR)
  • Federal Repoblic of Germany (FRG)
  • propaganda
  • border guards
  • cold war
  • West Berlin


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