Thousands of West Berliners poured through the checkpoints in the Berlin wall to visit relatives in the eastern sector of the city on Friday, as border restrictions imposed by the East German Government were relaxed for the first time since Whiteun, 1966.
GV Traffic waits on West Berlin side Staaken checkpoint (4 shots)
SV Sign "End of British Sector"
SV People carrying cases walking through checkpoint
SV Traffic queueing on West Berlin side of Checkpoint Brave
CV Sign "Allied Checkpoint Bravo"
SV Traffic passing along road and through checkpoint
SV People carrying cases passing through checkpoint into East Berlin
GV Crowd at East Berlin railway station.
SV West Berliners arrive and pass through check and greeted by East Berlin friends and relatives (5 shots)
SV East German soldier on guard
GV West Berliners admiring sights of East Berlin and walking through street (3 shots)
SV Traffic along East Berlin road.
Initials BB/0245 GL/AS/BB/0235
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Background: Thousands of West Berliners poured through the checkpoints in the Berlin wall to visit relatives in the eastern sector of the city on Friday, as border restrictions imposed by the East German Government were relaxed for the first time since Whiteun, 1966.
Some were due to travel on into the East German countryside, the first time they have been allowed to do so for 20 years.
The Easter concession period lasts for eight days, and police estimate that 400,000 West Berliners will take the opportunity to spend up to three days across the border.
Border guards and customs officials kept the formalities to a minimum, but long queues built up at the checkpoints. West Berliners were only allowed to take their cars if they were accompanying disabled people, travelling long distances or going to places not accessible by public transport. Even so, cars with western plates swelled the East Berlin holiday traffic to unaccustomed levels.
SYNOPSIS: At the Staaken checkpoint, West Berliners queued up on Friday to visit East Berlin for the first time in six years. The East German Government had announced an eight-day concession period during which West Berliners can visit the East for up to three days. And the West Berliners are being allowed to travel on into East Germany itself for the first time in 20 years.
The same scene was repeated at all the checkpoints in the Wall. Long queues of cars and buses formed up, even though the authorities were only allowing cars through for special reasons--to carry an invalid or small child, to travel long distances or to places not easily reached by public transport. Most people want by train or on foot. West Berlin police estimated that nearly half a million would take advantage of the Easter concession.
Border guards and customs officials kept the formalities of the crossing to a minimum, and there was a warm welcome on the other side for relatives and friends long separated by the Berlin Wall.
Conditions for the visits have been greatly relaxed compared with the past-West Berliners were being allowed through simply as tourists, not necessarily to visit relatives. One immediate effect was a spats of unusually heavy traffic in East Berlin.