Life and conditions in the West were in stark contrast to the East. As West Germany was rebuilt in the 1950s, living standards increased. Western democracy offered greater choice in the shops under its capitalist economic system.
However, the Berlin Wall meant that West Berliners lived in a 'sealed' island, surrounded by the Soviet zone of occupation and then the GDR. West Berliners were free to leave their sector at any time and enter other parts of the West by passing through the GDR. Permits could be obtained to visit East Berlin, but this was limited to 30 days a year.
Westerners who visited the GDR had to be careful, because the Stasi were constantly monitoring their movements and bugging their conversations. Westerners were not supposed to mix with the local population, and therefore visiting the oppressive GDR could be an uncomfortable experience and very isolating.