Friday, 18 May 2012

Wall Paper


Wall Paper Biography
Aside from the refugee problem, there were political troubles that threatened not only the peace and stability of Berlin and Germany, but also the world. In 1958, the Soviet Leader, Nikita Khruschev (1894–1971) demanded that several thorny post-war issues be resolved within a six-month period. The Soviets wanted negotiations on European security, an end to the four-power occupation of Germany, a final peace treaty signed with a reconstituted Germany, and the creation of a nuclear-free Germany to act as a buffer zone between the two superpowers.
The Soviets threatened that if their demands were not met then they would sign a separate peace treaty with East Germany, officially splitting Germany in two (even if in practice it already was so.) Summit talks were held in Geneva (May-August 1959), Paris (May 1960), and with the newly elected President John F. Kennedy (1917–1963) in Vienna (June 1961), but no agreements were forthcoming.
On the night of August 12, 1961, on the Eastern side of Berlin, large numbers of army units, militiamen, and People's Police (Vopos) began to assemble near the border. Beginning shortly after one in the morning the troops were posted along the border, and the wire and posts were deployed to seal East from West Berlin. Traffic was prevented from crossing, including the underground railway trains. When Berliners awoke on the morning of August 13 their city had been split in two.
The closure of the border between the two halves of Berlin came as a surprise to Western intelligence agencies. After the fact, a number of reports and individuals surfaced claiming to have foreseen the events of August 13, but at the time there was no credible source that was believed by the West. Some historians have suggested there was an overload of information at the time, with too many spies and informers supplying information. Sorting through the sheer volume of reports was one problem, as well as sorting the useful signals from the noise of half-rumor and disinformation. Reports from civilians who noticed that something "big" was occurring before the border was sealed were dismissed, as they were considered less reliable than the professional spies and informers. Credit must also be given to the secret planning and execution of Ulbricht, Erich Honecker (1912–1994), and their forces, who managed to stockpile 40 kilometres of barbed wire and thousands of posts without arousing suspicion. Even as the border was being sealed, many people on both sides had no idea what the ultimate purpose was, including those laying out the barbed wire.
The initial Western lack of response was baffling to many, who expected a more aggressive approach from the Western military in Berlin. The Kennedy administration appeared to accept that the Soviets had a natural right to protect their borders, and the other Western leaders followed his lead. Despite the fact that the East German actions violated the agreements the Four Powers had made after the Second World War, the United States only protested in a feeble manner. While Kennedy has been criticized heavily by biographers and historians for doing nothing, in effect, the lack of an active Western response stabilized the situation. While tension remained high for the next two years, the walling of the Berlin border did not threaten to boil over into armed conflict in the same manner as the Berlin Blockade had done.
If there had been too much intelligence information before the Wall, after the border was sealed there was the opposite problem. Before the Wall, spies crossed as easily as anyone else did. The massive tide of refugees that moved to the West Berlin before the sealing of Berlin caused many intelligence problems, as it was simply not possible to effectively screen all potential communist agents when the numbers crossing were high. After the wall, it became much harder to send spies across the border, simply because there was no longer any civilian traffic. Potential spies were now much easier to spot, and security forces on both sides could now shadow all suspected persons in official parties who crossed the divide.
Over the years, the East Germans modified and added to the initial barbed wire fence between the two Berlins. As soon as it became obvious that the West was not challenging the erection of the barricades, the first concrete sections were moved into place. Within the first few months, the Wall began to take on a more permanent shape, consisting of concrete sections and square blocks. Weak points were quickly identified and sealed. In mid-1962, modifications were made to strengthen the Wall, and in 1965, a third generation of Wall building began, using concrete slabs between steel girders and concrete posts. The last major reconstruction of the Wall began in 1975, when interlocking concrete segments were used.
The border fencing off West Berlin from East Germany was 155 km. (96 mi.) in length. The actual concrete structure that became infamous was only 107 km. (66.5mi.) in length, the remainder of the border was sealed off by wire and fences. More than 300 watch towers were built along the border, as well as 105 km. (65 mi.) of anti-vehicle ditches, more than 20 concrete bunkers, and all patrolled by several hundred dogs and more than ten thousand guards.
While the Wall was a formidable barrier that did not stop many East Germans from trying to cross it. In the first few days and weeks of its construction there were many gaps in the border. Escapees jumped, burrowed, climbed, and swam their way through weak points in the fence. Some East German residents lived in apartments that had windows and doors that opened into the West. Some fled to West Berlin simply by walking through their front doors, and when they were sealed, by climbing out the windows. Over time the holes and weak points in the Wall were found and blocked. Those attempting to escape in later years faced many more hazards, and while some were successful, many were wounded or killed in the attempt.
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