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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 
  • February

    • 1961

      10 February

      The commanders of the National People’s Army of the GDR and the Group of Soviet Armed Forces in the GDR decide to work out a new plan for joint military actions. At the same time, special working groups within the SED party apparatus and in the GDR Ministry of Transport work on plans to stop the flow of refugees.
    • 1961

      12 February

      Leading representatives of the Protestant Church in West Germany and West Berlin are not given permission to travel to East Berlin to take part in the opening service of the Protestant Synod in the Marienkirche (Church of St. Mary’s). The Western city commanders and the West German government lodge protests.
    • 1961

      13 February

      GDR newspapers report on their title pages that the Soviet Union successfully launched a space shuttle to Venus the previous day, thus proving once more the supremacy of Soviet science.
    • 1961

      17 February

      Statistics on the flow of refugees from the Soviet-Occupied Zone/GDR are published in the bulletin of the West German Federal Press and Information Office. It says that 2,531,540 refugees were registered in West Germany and West Berlin in the period from September 1949 to the end of 1960. The number of refugees from 1945 to 1949 is estimated at 438,760, so that the total number of refugees from 1945 to 1960 comes to around 2,970,300.
    • 1961

      17 February

      In an aide-mémoire to the West German government, the Soviet government iterates its demand for a peace treaty to be signed with Germany. It says the Soviet goal is "to secure the situation that has arisen in Europe after the war, to give a firm legal footing to the inviolability of the borders established after the war and to normalise the situation in West Berlin on the basis of a sensible consideration of the interests of all sides." more
    • 1961

      28 February

      The 14th conference of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon) takes place in East Berlin. At a reception, SED leader Ulbricht stresses that the GDR has to assert itself "under very complicated economic conditions with an open border". He says that to achieve the "Störfreimachung" of the economy – that is, its independence from Western deliveries – the GDR needs the absolute support of socialist countries, particularly the Soviet Union. Disregarding the difficult economic situation of the GDR, Ulbricht maintains that the GDR is among the ten leading industrial nations of the world. more
    • February 1961

      In February 1961, 13,576 people flee from the GDR. Of these, 49.5 percent are young people under the age of 25.
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