Bleak Mood in the GDR
Political circles in West Berlin fear that the bleak mood in the Soviet Zone could assume acute form. It must be reckoned with that people living in communities within the three-mile-wide no-man’s land on the West German border could try to break through to West Germany, with force if need be. Evidently, the Soviets also anticipated dramatic developments. The appointment of Marshal Koniev as commander-in-chief of the Red Army troops stationed in East Germany is doubtless a precisely calculated demonstration to the public, which is supposed to take this to mean that any act of opposition to the Communist order would be senseless. Koniev’s appointment and the concentration of the East German army on the borders won’t be misinterpreted. Developments could threaten to get out of control if Khrushchev were to push the Berlin crisis too far by means of rash policies regarding the corridors between West Berlin and West Germany that are used by the Western powers.
High Alert in West Berlin
The American troops in West Berlin have been placed on alert for security reasons. The city’s Senate convened in the morning for a special session. Afterwards, governing Mayor Willy Brandt met with the leading representatives of the Western powers. That evening a special session of the city parliament was convened. In an initial statement, Willy Brandt, who will be holding a press conference this afternoon, called upon the Western powers to take vigorous measures against the aggression from the East, stressing above all the necessity for a decisive reaction to the measures against cross-border commuters. At the same time, Brandt asked the population of the city to remain calm.
Source: “Abriegelung der DDR gegen den Westen” [“The GDR is Being Cordoned off from the West”], Neue Zürcher Zeitung, August 14, 1961, p. 1.
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Translation: Allison Brown