Berlin has been one of the world’s most culturally rich cities for many years, being the home to a copious range of art and history, but what was it that really shaped Berlin into the artistically diverse city it is today?

Shortly after the end of World War II in 1945, the Cold War broke out and the world was once again thrown into a chaotic state of unknowing and disarray. For Germany, this feeling was heightened, as the country’s punishment for its actions in World War II was one of the main disagreements that caused the divide between the East and the West. Berlin was a continual target throughout the 45-year period of the Cold War, the most famous events that happened there being the Berlin Blockade in 1948 and, most notably, the formation of the Berlin Wall in August of 1961, which did not come down until November of 1989.

Many East Berliners faced tough hardships throughout this time, living in a period of one of the worst financial depressions in European history. Censorship and restriction was affluent and the quality of life was low. But despite the hardships, Eastern Berliners found a way to work through the troubles, by creating paintings and murals which decorated the east side of the Berlin Wall along the border which went over the river Spree.

The East Side Gallery, which this stretch of wall is known as today, has been a strong representation of ordinary people’s struggles in East Berlin throughout the Cold War and shows personal comments on the political changes that the city endured in the late 20th century. The gallery has posed as a lasting sentiment to the deprivation that the East kept Berlin in and shows the people’s opposition to the state it was being ruled over by. The East Side Gallery is continually changing, with new paintings being created even now, showing how the struggles that the city faced will never be forgotten and how art brought the city together as a way to fight passively back against the state.