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What was the Potsdam Conference?

At the end of World War II, the United States, United Kingdom, and U.S.S.R. met at Potsdam, Germany, from July 17 to August 2, 1945, for a conference to determine how to control Germany and other eastern territories. The Potsdam Conference divided Germany and Austria into Soviet, French, American, and British zones of control.

What was the Berlin Wall?

At the end of World War II, Germany was divided into four zones, each occupied separately by the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and the U.S.S.R. The city of Berlin, while located entirely within the Soviet-occupied zone, was itself divided into four zones. Soon thereafter, the Soviets stopped cooperating with the other Allied powers. The three zones occupied by the United States, United Kingdom, and France joined together to create West Germany, while the Soviet zone became East Germany. A similar split occurred in the city of Berlin.

The city of Berlin held the dichotomy of east versus west, Communist versus capitalist. Many people who lived in East Berlin could see that those in West Berlin generally had a higher standard of living. It is estimated that over two million East Germans fled to the West within Berlin. In August 1961, the Communist government, determined to stop this mass exodus, began to build the Berlin Wall, a wall that physically divided East and West Berlin. On the west side, the wall became the location of spray-painted messages that voiced free opinions; on the east side of the wall lay a deserted area of barbed wire and armed guards called "No Man's Land."

For decades, the Berlin Wall stood as the physical version of the psychological "iron curtain" that separated east from west. On November 8, 1989, the Berlin Wall came tumbling down, and soon thereafter the era of the Cold War also ended.

Where was Checkpoint Charlie?

Checkpoint Charlie was a famous crossing point on the Berlin Wall between East and West Berlin, used mainly by tourists and U.S. military personnel.

What is Hadrian's Wall?

Hadrian's Wall was built under the direction of the Roman Emperor Hadrian in 122 C.E. Located in northern Great Britain, it was intended to keep out the Caledonians of Scotland. Built of mud and stone, the Wall stretched nearly 75 miles (120 kilometers), from Solway Firth in the west to the Tyne River in the east (near Newcastle).

What was the Maginot Line?

The Maginot Line was a defensive zone that was built in the 1930s to defend France against the possibility of a German invasion. The zone consisted of underground tunnels, artillery, anti-tank obstacles, and many other defensive structures and stratagems to slow down invading Germans. The Maginot Line stretched for approximately 200 miles (322 kilometers) near the French-German border.

During World War II, when the Germans did invade France, the Germans bypassed the Maginot Line by storming through neutral Belgium. Thus, the Maginot Line had failed its one great test because it was too short. The Line was also rendered obsolete by the fact that it did not provide defense against the new, modern warfare that included aircraft.

What is Benelux?

Benelux stands for Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg, and represents an economic alliance between the three, that was formed in the 1940s. At the time Belgium was primarily industrial and the Netherlands was primarily agricultural, the two countries' economies complemented each other, a relationship strengthened by an economic union. Luxembourg, which has a varied economy and is extremely small, has long been closely affiliated with its two larger neighbors, and thus also benefited from the union. Today, the countries are referred to as Benelux whenever referred to in terms of market analyses, commerce, and trade.

How many Irish left during the Great Starvation?

In the mid-nineteenth century, Ireland suffered from the "Great Starvation." From 1845 to 1850, a fungus ravaged the potato crops of Ireland, destroying the primary food source of Irish peasants. Though many have called this tragic event the "Great Potato Famine," the mass starvation of the Irish people was caused more by the lack of assistance from the British government than by the famine

Who was Otzi the Iceman?

In 1991, two German tourists were hiking in the Otzal Alps, on the Italian side of the border between Italy and Austria, when they happened upon what appeared to be a corpse buried beneath the ice. Astounded, they alerted authorities. It was found that Otzi (as the body was named) was a 45-year-old traveler himself who was more than 5,300 years old. It was likely he faced what investigators believe was a violent death. On his body were more than 50 tattoos, jewelry, and weapons, all of which gave researchers clues into the lives of our copper age ancestors.

itself. It is estimated that over one million people died during these catastrophic times, and approximately twice that number left their homeland in an effort to find food and solace.

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