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A Neutral’s Description of the Building of the Wall (August 14, 1961)

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Ulbricht’s regime proceeded according to the methods of a cold occupation. Everything was taken into account, and the regime took extensive measures to nip any rebellion in the bud. This step by Pankow is a peace-threatening violation of international agreements. Through it, this area of more than a million residents – which does not belong to the Soviet Union under international law, but rather forms part of the special Berlin zone under joint administration by the four powers – has been incorporated into the Communist sphere of control. For the first time since the Prague Coup of 1948, the Soviet Union has again annexed a piece of European territory. This despotic act is a direct challenge to the three Western powers, but the government in Bonn is drawn into the matter as well, since the agreement of December 29 of last year on German interzonal trade is based on the precondition of free traffic in Berlin.

The Flow of Refugees Dries up

Last night 16 million people in the Soviet zone and in East Berlin disappeared entirely behind the Iron Curtain and were thrown into the night of non-freedom. For Polish and Czechoslovakian citizens, too, as well as for residents of other eastern European satellite states of the Soviet bloc, the gate to freedom has slammed shut. Because of its four-power status, up until now, West Berlin had been easier for residents of Eastern Europe to reach than the area west of the heavily guarded Soviet bloc border. Through these GDR measures, the border that divides Europe into two halves has been completely closed. No more refugees arrived here this morning. There is no way to break out of Ulbricht’s prison state. The flow of refugees over the weekend had swelled to an unprecedented level.

Simultaneous with the GDR decrees, a declaration by the governments of the member states of the Warsaw Pact organization was published, in which Pankow’s despotic acts were characterized as the execution of a “suggestion” by the Eastern bloc states. So Ulbricht has rear cover from the entire Eastern bloc. It is clear that the decision to annex East Berlin to the Soviet zone was made in Moscow not Pankow, and that Khrushchev is directly responsible for this aggressive act. The declaration by the Warsaw Pact countries explains that the cordoning-off measures did not affect travel between West Berlin and West Germany and that the “necessity of these measures will cease as soon as the peace settlement with Germany is realized.” The “incorporation” of the Soviet sector of Berlin into the Soviet Occupation Zone is thus being brought into the context of Moscow’s project of promoting a general peace treaty, and Pankow’s step appears to be a partial anticipation of the “Free City” of West Berlin.

The role of West Berlin as a Western center radiating into the Eastern bloc is seriously hindered by the aggressive policies of fait accompli. At the same time, the city loses much of its function as a gateway to freedom. Every year an estimated nine million residents of the Soviet zone and the Soviet sector visited cinemas, theaters, and other cultural institutions [in West Berlin].

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