The Foreign Service Journal, November 2019

Looking Back on a Divided City From the FSJ Archive The Berlin Wall FSJ JULY 1971 Washington was, at this time [mid-1961], becoming increasingly concerned about the growing flood of refugees intoWest Berlin. After Vienna, many East Germans again were gripped by the fear that the door was about to be closed. Many who had hesitated to abandon their homes and loved ones before now decided that they had better make their escape while they could. Although the border withWest Germany was sealed, they could travel by train or bus to East Berlin. From there, they easily skipped intoWest Berlin on foot, by streetcar, or subway, for the controls at the sector boundary were perfunctory. … [East German head of state Walter] Ulbricht began controlling movement between East andWest Berlin in 1951. Over the years, the number of crossing points were progressively reduced. While these still permitted a great deal of movement back and forth—an estimated half million a day—he had established the principle that he controlled the number of crossing points. During 1960 Ulbricht introduced new controls regarding travel by West Germans and West Berliners to East Berlin but eased off when Adenauer threat- ened to suspend interzonal trade. The issue subsided until after the Vienna conference. Washington knew that something was afoot when Ulbricht flew off toMoscow in early August 1961. … During the week of August 6, the war clouds accumulated rapidly. The NATO ForeignMinisters concluded their meeting in Paris and reaffirmed their determination tomaintain the freedom of West Berlin. OnWednesday, August 9, Khrushchev boasted of his superbomb. …OnThursday, August 10, Kennedy admitted the seriousness of the situation and expressed the hope that the Berlin question could be settled with negotiations. ... On Saturday, August 12, Khrushchev and Ulbricht drew twomore cards. The East German Council of Ministers adopted a decree making the line through Berlin a state boundary. East Germans and East Berliners could cross only with special permis- sion. …The Minister of the Interior, Karl Maron, issued a decree, which designated 13 crossing points. The decree concluded by 80 NOVEMBER 2019 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL saying, euphemistically, “Citizens of the German Democratic Republic who do not work in Berlin are asked to refrain from trav- eling to Berlin until further notice.” … Meanwhile, Marshall Konev had flung an armed ring around Berlin. Soviet and East German forces were placed on alert. Shortly after midnight, on Sunday, August 13, the subways stopped at the sector boundary. Police told the passengers to get off. They could not cross the line. Police also halted all vehicles and streetcars. Soon people on foot or on bicycles were caught in the net. Guards began stringing barbed wire. Others placed obstacles in the roads. Gradually, movement across the boundary ground to a halt. In the morning, Berliners awoke to find their city divided— with both incongruous and tragic results. Aman who had gone to East Berlin for a party and stayed the night found himself trapped. Another, who had gone to East Berlin to visit his mother, was separated fromhis wife and children. Men and women who had worked in the other half of the city were suddenly unemployed. Moreover, thousands of East Germans who had waited one day too long were trapped in Ulbricht’s concentration camp. … For six days, Ulbricht watched the reactions and strength- ened his fence. He began construction of the wall on August 19. Four days later, he reduced the number of crossing points from 12 to seven. … —John Ausland, from excerpts of his manuscript on the Berlin crisis published in the July 1971 FSJ . He was as a member and later deputy director of the Berlin Task Force from 1961 to 1966. American Foreign Policy and East Germany FSJ APRIL 1975 Three years after signing the 4-Power Accords on Berlin [on Sept. 3, 1971], the United States has entered into full diplomatic relations with East Germany. … Washington should immediately recognize that the nature of East German-Soviet relations FOCUS ON THE FALL OF THE BERLIN WALL