Film Flashback: Berlin

Part One

It was a divided city, and very much a flashpoint in the simmering cauldron of West-East tensions at the time. Berlin was divided into four sectors – American, British, French and Soviet. The Soviets controlled the eastern half of Berlin, while the Americans, British and French controlled the western half. Military checkpoints were commonplace, regulating the movement of German civilians throughout the city. Many Germans who lived in the eastern half of Berlin worked in the more prosperous and growing western half. After the disastrous 1961 meeting between President Kennedy and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviets demanded the withdrawal of western forces from West Berlin as they sought to exercise and solidify more control in Eastern Europe. In August 1961, East German security forces began to close the border between East Berlin and West Berlin. Physical barriers were erected, wire entanglements and fences were strung to prevent entry between the eastern and western halves of Berlin, and along the West Berlin boundary in East Germany.

One of the trips my family and I took in early 1964 was to Berlin. While tensions had eased before our visit, it was a chance to see what West Berlin was like. Being a second-grader then, much of what was going on then didn’t carry too much importance. But, you did understand the people of East Germany, and East Berlin, lived differently with many restrictions imposed on them. As with any trip, the camera was brought along. The only restriction was no photos of East German, Soviet, and Soviet-allied security forces.

The picture taker on this trip was my dad.

behind the guest quarters where we stayed at while in West Berlin


cleared of war debris and ruins, a “field” inside West Berlin


on the move, the Berlin Airlift Memorial


standing in front of the Berlin Airlift Memorial


outside of the main terminal building at Tempelhof Airport


Soviet war memorial just inside the East Berlin side
with armed East German soldiers on guard at the base of the memorial
the coiled wire, in the foreground, represented the border between West and East Berlin


this street dead ends into the Berlin Wall
before the wall was erected, a border control point was located here


Next week: Part Two of this series will feature photos at the Berlin Wall.


For more information on the 1961 Berlin Crisis, please read here.


7 thoughts on “Film Flashback: Berlin

  1. Oh my, look at little you! So cute in your raincoat….I miss those days when everyone dressed up when they traveled. Berlin must have seemed strange through the eyes of a child.

    • Dressing up when you traveled, those were the days. Berlin was certainly a different place with all the signs when leaving one sector and entering another, but you understood and accepted that was the way things were.

  2. Pingback: Film Flashback: Berlin | through the viewfinder ...

  3. David, a great glimpse into the history of Berlin. I thought you would like to know that the Soviet War Memorial in the Tiergarten was in the British Sector of West Berlin. I can only assume that the barbed wire is there to protect it from those who resented a monument to the soldiers responsible for the brutal taking of Berlin. Interestingly, the British allowed the Soviet soldiers to stand guard at the monument.

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