|The Story of the
Section 1 Germany and Berlin at the End of WWII
Section 3 The Cruel Border
Section 4 Checkpoint Charlie
Section 5 Breakthrough -- Part One
Section 6 The Wall
Section 7 Breakthrough -- Part Two
Section 8 The Wall between Concrete, Art and the Exchange of Agents
Section 9 The Brandenburg Gate
Section 10 The Final Breakthrough
"I understand the pain and outrage you feel."
Lyndon B. Johnson, August 19, 1961
In the Beginning Was the Lie
"No one intends to build a wall." These were the words with which the powerful General Secretary of the SED, Walter Ulbricht, responded to a West German journalist on June 15, 1961, when she asked how the East German leader intended to stop the daily flood of refugees moving from East to West. Just two months thereafter, on August 13, 1961, precisely what Ulbricht had expressly denied did indeed happen. A "wall" was put up through the middle of Berlin. The statement by the General Secretary was later repeatedly denounced on the placards brandished by protesters on the West Berlin side.
The actual erection of the wall began in the early morning hours of August 13, 1961 - a weekend. First, soldiers and members of the People's Police marched up to seal off the eastern part of the city. At strategically important locations, as at the Brandenburg Gate, massive numbers of armored vehicles were deployed to prevent any popular protest from the outset on either side of the border, thereby automatically severing communications. Then the trains stopped running. Wire-mesh fences and barbed wire were unrolled. Occupants living on the eastern side of buildings straddling the boundary were compelled to evacuate, and the buildings were subsequently razed. By the end, the frontier consisted of stones and barbed wire patrolled day and night by militant border guards.