Traffic mounted up in long lines along autobahns as East German border guards brought traffic between West Berlin and West Germany to a near standstill on Tuesday (1 December), causing delays of up to 12 hours at border crossings.
Traffic mounted up in long lines along autobahns as East German border guards brought traffic between West Berlin and West Germany to a near standstill on Tuesday (1 December), causing delays of up to 12 hours at border crossings. The delays were part of an East German protest against the meeting of the West German opposition Christian Democratic Party in West Berlin.
The Christian Democrats began their meeting on Monday (30 November) despite the retaliatory harassment of traffic and Soviet and East German protests. Among the speakers was former West German Chancellor and Leader of the Christian Democrats, Kurt Kiesinger. The two-day meeting ended Tuesday, with the party defending its right to meet in West Berlin and announcing a new meeting in the divided city next year.
West German and West Berlin police offered coffee and meals to some of the waiting drivers on Tuesday. A number of lorry drivers, some of whom had been waiting for hours, played a game of football to while away the time.
East Germany controls all civilian traffic to and from isolated West Berlin across 110 miles (approx 176 kms) of its own territory.
East Germany argues that the West German Government or parliamentary officials or bodies have no right to do official business in West Berlin. It regards West Berlin as an independent political entity.
The present delay is the most serious since the election of West German President Gusty Heinemann, held in West Berlin in March last year. At the time more than 1,000 West German federal and state parliamentarians travelled to West Berlin for the poll.
Since the time, inter-German traffic on the whole has been peaceful.
The 250 Christian Democrats meeting in West Berlin coincided with intensified attempts by the four powers responsible for Berlin -- the United States, Britain, France and the Soviet Union -- to stabilise the city's crisis potential.
The four-power talks began in March, with the Western powers interest focusing on improving travel facilities for West Berliners to West Germany and enabling them to visit East Berlin again.
East Germany, however, reportedly fears that a Berlin deal could in-fringe on its sovereign rights and rejects any four power responsibility on civilian traffic over its territory.