The Berlin Wall, erected by the communist East German Government almost eleven years ago to halt the exodus of millions of Germans to affluent, capitalist West Berlin, may be opened at Easter -- for the first time since the mid 1960's.
The Berlin Wall, erected by the communist East German Government almost eleven years ago to halt the exodus of millions of Germans to affluent, capitalist West Berlin, may be opened at Easter -- for the first time since the mid 1960's. For the East German Government has made what appears to be an unconditional offer to allow West Berliners to visit East Berlin during the Easter holidays later this month, and on Monday (13 March) an office to issue Wall pa??? was opened in West Berlin.
This film, compiled from the Visnews library, is accompanied by a written commentary explaining the background to the current offer. It shows the construction of the wall -- 103 miles (165 kilometres) of concrete wall, metal fence and old building fronts -- and its effect on the people of a divided city.
SYNOPSIS: Berlin, 1948 -- Politically divided into Eastern and Western sectors following the Second World War. By the 1960's, the divisions had gone deeper -- and a wall was erected to keep its people apart. For in the years after the war some two million Germans from East Berlin -- many among the city's best qualified -- flocked to the West. In August, 1961, with ruin facing the East German economy, drastic action was taken. A concrete and barbed wire wall was created almost overnight -- and while it was the beginning of East Germany's economic recovery, it was also the beginning of scores of deaths as East German border guards gunned down refugees attempting to flee to the West. In 10 Years, 65 people died in this way -- and hundreds more were wounded, captured and thrown in prison. Over a hundred miles of concrete and wire held them in, guarded by hundreds of watchtowers, bunkers, electric alarms, trenches, and armed troops.
Hundreds did escape, despite all these precautions. Other attempts failed -- like this one, a tunnel dug half-way under the wall before being discovered and excavated by ever-alert troops.
But now, for the first time singing 1968, the Wall may be legally breached -- for the East German Government has made what appears to be an unconditional offer to allow in West Berliners for the Easter holidays this month and for Whitsun holidays later this year. The offer stems from an important series of access agreements between the governments of East and West Germany. But it comes as a surprise because the agreements were not due to be ratified or even discussed by the West German parliament until much later this year. In making the offer, the East Germans claim "a gesture of goodwill". In West Germany, the offer to open the Wall is interpreted as an attempt to influence West German parliamentarians when discussing the wider access agreements. On Monday, meanwhile, an office opened in West Berlin to issue passes for Easter visits over the Wall.
West Germane member previous offers by the East German Government to allow them to visit relatives and friends behind the Wall. They came to nothing. And even last Christmas, AFTER one access agreement has been initialled, the Wall remained closed The East German Government said it could not make the necessary opening arrangements in time for Christmas. This latest Easter offer, however is not hedged with the usual conditions - and West Berliners are hopeful that they may see East Berlin for the first time since 1966.