BERLIN, Aug. 14, 1961 (UPI) -- East German Communist police today hurled tear gas into crowds of jeering West Berliners protesting the closing of the border between East and West Berlin.
The Reds closed the Brandenburg Gate, main crossing point between East and West Berlin, and ordered their soldiers to break up all anti-Communist demonstrations along the border -- a move that raised the possibility of armed clashes.
The Red interior ministry warned all West Berliners not to get closer than 100 yards of the border.
The order came in the wake of the violent scenes that almost brought open clashes between Communist troops and police and angry West Berliners.
The Red clampdown reduced from 80 to 12 the number of crossing points between Red run East Berlin and free West Berlin and barred more than 50,000 East Berliners from going to work in West Berlin. The Communists also cut telephone communications between East and West Germany.
Despite the border closing ordered by the Reds yesterday and enforced by soldiers and police backed by tanks and machine guns, refugees continued to make their way from the Communist-held East into West Berlin.
Of the refugees registered today, 800 fled between dawn and dusk yesterday, according to West Berlin Mayor Willy Brandt. He said they escaped by "secret means." Some East Berliners, using identity cards borrowed from West Berliners, passed all but close checks at the border and made it to the West. Others were smuggled out in the trunks of western automobiles.
West Berliners shouted insults at Red police and troops at the Brandenburg Gate, and taunted them until the police hurled at least four tear gas grenades across the border. A capricious wind blew the gas back into the Communist's faces.
Reliable sources reported about 300 East German youths battled a group of club-swinging workers militia at the corner of Unter Den Linden and Friedrichstrasse inside the eastern sector at about 3 p.m. There was no confirmation of this, the first report of fighting among East Germans since the current crisis began.
The sources said the brawl began during an argument among about 30 members of the militia and the youths. They added that about 10 of the youths were arrested.
The East Germans wheeled three awkward-looking, but effective, water cannon into position at the gate. They flanked them with five armored carriers mounted with machine guns, and marched additional "alert police" with machine guns into position along the sector border.
Eight tanks were in position near the Friedrichstrasse station of the city's elevated railroad.
The Communists fired a warning shot at a West Berlin policeman near the border, but he was unharmed.
West Berliners pressed so hard against restraining ropes on the border that they broke. They screamed jibes like "swine" and "why don't you dig potatoes" at the Red People's Police, called "Vopos". West Berlin police shoved the crowd back and barred the area.
A U.S. army helicopter patrolled above the border.
At one point, an angry Vopo officer marched to the center of the street, drew himself to attention, and shouted to a United Press International photographer and a reporter: "You are standing on the territory of the free city of Berlin. It is forbidden to take photographs of military subjects."
Then he yelled at a West Berlin policeman to order the UPI men back. The West Berliner grinned and refused.
The border restrictions were applied only to East Germans wanting to go to West Berlin. West Berliners with jobs in the eastern part of the city and casual travelers to the east, were not interfered with except for identification checks. The traffic of the Western Allies in and out of the city and between the various sectors was not bothered.
Communications from West Berlin to West Germany were not affected by the latest Communist move in cutting off contact with the West. The Red regime years ago cut all telephone communications between East and West Berlin. But, until today, it had been possible to telephone from West Berlin to East Germany.
The East German interior minister said the Brandenburg Gate was being closed "temporarily" because of Western "provocations," a reference to West Berliners' demonstrating against the travel ban.
The 11,000 American, British, and French troops in the Berlin garrisons were placed on full alert.
An estimated 3,000 workers of the West Berlin electrical factory through the center of the city. They carried signs saying, "Reunification of Germany Now" and "We Want Retaliation Measures." At city hall Mayor Brandt asked them to break up and return to work.
The West Berlin Trade Union Federation called on all workers in the western part of the city to stop word for 15 minutes this afternoon as a protest against the border closing.
Thousands of Red troops stood guard at critical border-points and patrolled East Berlin's streets under orders from the Soviet-controlled Warsaw Pact powers to establish "effective control" around West Berlin.
Heavy reinforcements of Soviet troops were deployed on East German territory just outside the city, ready to rush in and crush any possible rebellion; as they did when East German soldiers failed to handle the workers revolt of June 17, 1953.