8.13.2011

August 1961: Berlin Wall (a photo timeline)

* Saturday, August 12, 1961: East German leader Walter Ulbricht signs the order authorizing the closing of the border with West Germany. On that day, a wife passes her son to her husband, who is standing in West Berlin. (Original caption and photo sequence: @)











* August 13: At 2 a.m. local time, the wall begins as a barbed-wire fence. (BBC story: @; account in The Guardian newspaper: @)
















* August 14: Brandenburg Gate is closed. In this photo from late August, West Berlin police look across the East-West border. (Short history of Brandenburg Gate: @)









* August 15: East German soldier Conrad Schumann defects to the West by hopping over the barbed wire (More on Schumann: @ ; footage of defection: @)










* August 17: The United States, Britain and France issue their first formal protest to the Soviet Union. At left, the front page of the Bild Zeitung newspaper from August 16. The headline reads, "The West does NOTHING!" (August 17 protest by U.S. and Soviet reply the following day: @)














* August 18: The barbed-wire barrier is augmented by concrete blocks. (Facts and figures, including layout of fortications: @)
















* August 20: From Stars and Stripes: "West Berliners cheer as a 1,500-man U.S. Army convoy from the 1st Battle Group rolls past the ruins of the Kaiser Wilhelm Church. The troops were sent to join the 11,000-man garrison already in the beleaguered city by President John F. Kennedy in a show of solidarity." (The convoy went 110 miles through East German territory, starting near Mannheim and traveling along the autobahn.)









* August 22: The first death, as Ida Seikmann dies from injuries suffered when she jumped from her third-floor apartment window. The photo is of a monument put up in her honor. (More on Seikmann: @ and @)















* August 24: G√ľnter Liftin is shot dead while trying to escape East Berlin by swimming across the Spree Canal. (More on Liftin: @)


* August 26: All crossing points closed for West Berlin citizens. From The New York Times: "The East Germans began issuing permits for West Berliners to visit East Berlin at two West Berlin stations of the Communist-operated elevated railway. The permits were handed out at the ticket offices until West Berlin police told the Communists to close them. ... The Allied commandants supported the action of the West Berlin city authorities. It was understood that the action would create hardships for some West Berliners, but the authorities decided to accept this rather than permit the East Germans to get in a thin wedge of sovereignty on West Berlin territory."




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