Film Flashback: Berlin

Part Two

At the conclusion of World War II, Berlin was divided into four sectors as part of the postwar occupation of Germany. The western half the city was under the nominal control of the US, UK, and France while the eastern half was under control of the Soviets. In the 18-month long Berlin blockade of 1948-49, the Soviets closed land, rail and canal access into West Berlin. The Soviet aim was to gain control over the entire city. It was deemed by the Soviets as inconceivable that West Berlin could be resupplied by the western allies. The Berlin Airlift proved otherwise. When the Soviets lifted their blockade, its failure did little to change their aim to control Berlin.

Throughout the 1950s, the status of Berlin was examined and re-examined. With the increasing number of East Germans escaping to the West through West Berlin, the East Germans and the Soviets sought to curb those numbers by erecting the Berlin Wall. While much of the initial barriers between West and East Berlin were made of wired entanglements and fences, the wire barriers were eventually replaced by concrete barriers and buildings were demolished. The concrete sections of the wall included large broken glass and metal fragments embedded into the top of the wall, making it more difficult to gain a handhold or a foothold.

While the tensions ebbed and flowed, the US military in West Germany sponsored tours into West Berlin on a limited basis. We were fortunate to take one of those tours. The centerpiece of the tour was to the Berlin Wall. Before reaching the first point along the Berlin Wall, we were advised not to make any motions that could perceived as provocative. Occasionally, East German security forces at the wall would fire over the wall at “motions observed” on the western side.

The picture-taker on the trip was my dad.

this street cut by a section the Berlin Wall, the sign indicating you’re leaving the American Sector seems out of place

 

a memorial at the Berlin Wall commemorating those who died crossing over the wall

 

Checkpoint Charlie

 

the groomed border crossing into East Berlin with propaganda sign extolling the virtues of how your vote “truly counts” in East Germany

 

the apartment building with bricked windows and doors used as a portion of the Berlin Wall

 

the steeple of the church was used as an observation post and sniper’s nest for East German and Soviet security forces

 

Next week: Part Three will include more photos along the Berlin Wall.

 

Part One of this series can be found here.

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