Wall Goes Up in Berlin

Published: 1961
Play Audio Archive Story - UPI
WAP122803 - 1961 - WEST BERLIN: Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-AZ), seen in a 1961 file photo walking by the Berlin Wall during a visit with former USAF officers. Goldwater who died May 29, 1998 at the age of 89 in his home in Mesa, Arizona, was a reserve general in the Air Force. cs/files UPI

Announcer: Since the close of World War II, Berlin has been a city divided: Russia in the East in a sector which remains a grim reminder of the ravages of war; England, France and the United States in the West, where skyscrapers, apartments and autos line the broad streets. For months, refugees streamed across the border to freedom in the West, and on August 22nd the Voice of Germany reported the beginning of the end.

Unknown Speaker: "The British Commander in Berlin, Major-General Delacombe, has had four tanks posted on the sectoral boundary between West Berlin and the Soviet zone. He came to this decision after People's Policemen from the Soviet zone had appeared on the boundary at Staken part of the city and began to lay a barbed-wire barricade along a one-and-a-half-mile stretch. News is being broadcast by loudspeakers from the West Berlin side into the Soviet zone to the southeast of the city. The crowds of people who gathered on the Soviet-sector side were distressed by People's Police using teargas. This news broadcast comes to you from the Voice of Germany."

Announcer: The Wall grew. Crossing points became fewer in number. Strict security by the People's Police was maintained. A huge no man's land was cleared to provide a clear line of fire at fleeing refugees.

But there were many. Houses and even churches fronting the wall were evacuated and sealed off. Still, desperate people leaped from upper stories, trying to hit Western fire nets held only a few feet beyond the Wall.

West Berlin's Mayor, Willy Brandt, visited the city, and he told imprisoned East Berliners that they would not be forgotten. "We," he said, "are one with you."

Willy Brandt: "(German.)"

Announcer: Chancellor Adenauer also visited the border and found the East Germans had arranged a reception for him, a PA system designed to drown out any speech he might feel inclined to make.

Unknown Speaker: "The music now was an extraordinary affair someone identified as a number entitled 'The Old Red Indian Chief,' and it echoed off the neighboring buildings in a deafening blast full of whoops and war cries ...

"Adenauer smile bravely, but grimly. 'Now, just listen to that,' he said. And now the loudspeaker voice shouted, 'Too late, Mr. Chancellor; we've acted in the meantime.'"

Announcer: Freedom-loving peoples the world over protested. U.S. State Secretary Rusk commented.

Secretary of State Dean Rusk: "The Wall certainly ought not to be a permanent feature of the European landscape. I see no reason why the Soviet Union should think it is -- it is to their advantage in any way to leave there that monument to Communist failure."

Announcer: But the Wall remained, even strengthened and extended, narrowing the few remaining gaps to freedom.

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Announcer: Machine, you've gone too far. Take over the world if you like; but, please, leave the romance department to us.

This, then, is 1961 -- not all of it by any means, but those events which attracted the public's eyes and ears. Perhaps history will access other happenings as more important; but, for the present, these were the things that gripped our hearts and minds.

Announcer: This has been 1961 in Review, a capsule documentary of living history in word and sound produced by United Press International.