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Chronicle 1961

In the night of the 12 to the 13 of August, Walter Ulbricht, as SED (Socialist Unity Party of Germany (Ger.: Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands)) party leader and Chairman of the National Defence Council of the GDR, (German Democratic Republic [East Germany]. (Ger.: Deutsche Demokratische Republik or DDR)) gave the order to seal off the sector border in Berlin. Having obtained the agreement of the Soviet Union a few days previously, and with the support of the Soviet troops in the GDR, the regime closed off the last route for escape from the Party dictatorship: in the early morning of August 13, border police started ripping up streets in the middle of Berlin, pieces of asphalt and paving stones were piled up to form barricades, concrete posts were driven into the ground and barbed-wire barriers erected. more
  • January

    • 1961

      1 January

      Marienfelde Reception Centre in West Berlin: transit point for hundreds of thousands of refugees from the GDR, photo from 1958
      In 1960, 199,188 people fled from the GDR, three quarters of them (152,291) over the still open sector border from East to West Berlin. In January 1961, the stream of refugees continues: 16,697 people from the GDR arrive in the West; 47.8 percent of them are young people under the age of 25. The flow of refugees from the GDR up to the end of 1960, 17 February 1961 (in German)
    • 1961

      5 January

      West German Chancellor Dr. Konrad Adenauer (photo taken April 1961)
      In Bonn, West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer celebrates his 85th birthday. Bishop Otto Dibelius conveys the best wishes of the Protestant Church in Germany and touches upon the serious situation in Berlin.

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    • 1961

      11 January

      The press office of the prime minister (Ministerpräsident) of the GDR states that the GDR government rejects plans to hold the all-German Protestant Church Congress in Berlin and regards it as a provocation. more
    • 1961

      19 January

      The economic crisis in the GDR puts paid to the resolution, taken at the 5th SED Party Congress in 1958, to demonstrate the superiority of socialism over capitalism: by 1961 the per capita consumption of all major foodstuffs and consumer goods in the GDR was to catch up with and overtake that in West Germany. more
    • 1961

      20 January

      John F. Kennedy takes up office as President of the United States. The main sentence in his inaugural address refers to relations with the Soviet Union: "Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate."
    • 1961

      21 January

      SED leader Walter Ulbricht orders Defence Minister Heinz Hoffmann to confer with the Supreme Commander of the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany (GSFG) to clarify questions of military security that would arise if the situation in Berlin and on the western border were to grow more serious. more
    • 1961

      25 January

      The CPSU’s main mouthpiece, "Pravda", publishes a speech by Nikita Khrushchev in which he threatens once more to sign a separate peace treaty with the GDR in order "to remove the splinter – the occupation regime in West Berlin – from the heart of Europe."
    • 1961

      26 January

      The Germany Academy of Agriculture holds a two-day scientific conference on "open-stall systems" for keeping cattle on the Soviet model. GDR agriculture is suffering a severe crisis. On average, 720 cattle are dying every day. more
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