The Berlin Wall was constructed in secret overnight on 13 August 1961 by the GDR, a Communist satellite state of the USSR, and with the support of Soviet president Khrushchev. It was a physical barrier that separated East Berlin from West Berlin, erected in response to the thousands of East Germans defecting to the West.
Initially a 'wall' of barbed wire with a permanent armed-guard patrol, a more permanent concrete wall was soon built to contain East Germans behind a physical barrier. East German guards shot anyone trying to escape; however, this did not prevent people trying to escape.
US president Kennedy remarked that a wall is better than a war. However, West Germans were angry about the wall and felt betrayed that the US did not act after it went up. It separated Communism in the East and Capitalism in the West. The Berlin Wall became the symbol of the Iron Curtain and of the Cold War.