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Condemnation of the Wall by the West German Government (August 18, 1961)

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It is ready to support any starting point for negotiations between the Four Powers responsible for Berlin and Germany as a whole. The Federal Government regards it as absolutely essential, however, to point out that the unilateral action taken by the rulers of the Soviet zone, with the consent of the government of the USSR, is a strain on the readiness to negotiate exhibited by the West.

The Federal Government, however, will not abandon the hope that negotiations may be started at once and that they will enable a solution to the German problem and thus to the Berlin question on the basis of the right of peoples to self-determination. The principle that all peoples should be given the right to determine their own state system is making a triumphal procession throughout the world. The Federal Government is confident that this principle can also be implemented in effect in the heart of Europe, where right now 16 million Germans are still being denied this right.

[ . . . ]

Let me finally say a few words to the residents of the Eastern sector of Berlin and of the Soviet zone. Your misfortune and your trouble is our misfortune and our trouble.

(General applause.)

In your difficult situation you had at least found some consolation in the thought that, if your lot were to become unbearable, you could escape it by fleeing. Now it looks as though you have been deprived of this consolation as well. I ask our brothers and sisters in the Eastern sector of Berlin and the Soviet zone, from the bottom of my heart: Do not give up hope for a better future for yourselves and your children.


We are convinced that the efforts of the free world, and our efforts in particular, will succeed one day in giving you back your freedom.

(Renewed applause.)

[ . . . ]

Source: Konrad Adenauer, Bundestag Speech of August 18, 1961, Deutsche Bundestagsprotokolle, 3. Wahlperiode, 167, pp. 9769-72.

Source of English translation: Berlin (1944-1962), file on Berlin affairs, prepared by A. Molter (Paris: Assemblée de l'Union de l'Europe occidentale, 1962), pp. 44-48. Reprinted on the website: [CVCE – Centre Virtuel de la Connaissance sur l’Europe]. This translation was edited by GHDI staff.

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