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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
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    • 1961

      1 July

      On this "People’s Police Day" ("Tag der Volkspolizei"), the newspaper "Neues Deutschland" publishes an order of the day issued by the interior minister, Karl Maron (SED), which runs as follows: "The armed organs of the Interior Ministry bear a great responsibility for our workers’ and peasants’ state. They must remain alert and ready to properly repudiate every provocation by West German militarists and revanchists and nip it in the bud."
    • 1961

      1 July

      At an extraordinary meeting of the SED Politburo in East Berlin, Walter Ulbricht announces that the Presidium of the CPSU has accepted his proposal to call a conference of the Political Consultative Committee of the Warsaw Treaty Member States in Moscow. However, it is no longer to take place in July, as Ulbricht originally wanted, but at the start of August.
    • 1961

      1 July

      In a radio address, the West German Minister for All-German Affairs, Ernst Lemmer, offers the GDR help in overcoming its supply crisis: more
    • 1961

      2 July

      Report by the West Berlin police: "The situation on the sector and zone border remains unchanged. Inter-zone traffic was normal. – On 2.7.1961, at around 4.15 p.m., the 18-year-old Harald L., resident in Johann-Sigismundstrasse, Halensee (West Berlin, ed.), was taken aboard a patrol boat of the People's Police while swimming at the Glienicke Bridge near the buoy marking the northern border. He was advised of the location of the border and released."
    • 1961

      2 July

      In a foreign-policy speech to the SPD party executive, Willy Brandt speaks about the upcoming campaign for the parliamentary elections: "Over the coming months, the German people will face scrutiny over whether it can carry out an election campaign for an improved domestic situation in this nation, yet still act together when existential issues are at stake. The 'diktat of division' (as espoused by Khrushchev, ed.) would mean the division not only of Germany, but of all of Europe." more
    • 1961

      2 July

      Moscow: Nikita Khrushchev threatens the nuclear destruction of Great Britain in a conversation with the British ambassador to the Soviet Union, Sir Frank Roberts. Several weeks later, during the conference of the Political Advisory Committee of the Warsaw Pact states, Khrushchev himself gives an account of this meeting, recorded in the minutes of the conference: more
    • 1961

      3 July

      The smouldering conflict between the Soviet Union and China is reported to have broken out openly after a letter written by Khrushchev to various communist parties. more
    • 1961

      3 July

      The SED Politburo decides to restructure the management of the national economy: the previous State Planning Commission is divided into a State Planning Commission and a National Economy Council; both answer to the GDR Council of Ministers. more
    • 1961

      3/4 July

      3-4 July 1961

      In East Berlin, a two-day meeting of the SED Central Committee (also see 20 June 1961) begins – in secret. The speeches are not published; two days later, only a vaguely worded communiqué is printed in "Neues Deutschland". Walter Ulbricht gives the introductory speech on "The fight for the peace treaty and the transformation of West Berlin into a de-militarised, neutral Free City". more
    • 1961

      4 July

      Report by the West Berlin police: "The situation on the sector and zone border remains unchanged. – Inter-zone traffic was normal. – On 4.7.1961, at around 11.55 a.m., in N 65, corner of Bernauerstrasse and Schwedterstrasse (sector border), two suspected inspectors from the AZKW [East German customs service] or People's Police in civilian dress arrested the 46-year-old Agnes B., resident in Am Iderfenngraben, Niederschönhausen (SOS) [Soviet Occupied Sector], about two metres into West Berlin territory and pulled her into the SOS. A border guard from the police drew his service pistol and managed to wrest B. from the inspectors about one metre into the territory of the eastern sector and bring her back to Berlin (West)."
    • 1961

      4 July

      At an extraordinary meeting, the SED Politburo confirms the draft of a resolution on a "German Peace Plan" drawn up by the Volkskammer, which the Volkskammer is to pass on 6 June.
    • 1961

      4 July

      A memorandum of the East German government to the states in the anti-Hitler coalition: "On 29 June 1961, the West German Bundestag decided, at the behest of the West German government, to pay state pensions to all members of the SS Special Purpose Troops, the SS Life Guards of Adolf Hitler and the SS Totenkopfverbände [SS-TV] and to pave the way legally for these fascists, heavily incriminated by the offences they have committed, to take up responsible state positions in West Germany. (…) more
    • 1961

      4 July

      East Berlin: The SED Central Committee ends its two-day meeting. It agrees to the proposal by the Politburo to restructure economic management by forming a State Planning Commission and a National Economy Council as bodies of the Council of Ministers, and confirms the nominated appointments.
    • 1961

      4 July

      The newspaper "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reports that "the former Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force, General Thomas D. White, who retired last week, [has voiced] the fear in a television interview that there could be a nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union over Berlin. more
    • 1961

      4 July

      In a letter to Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko, the Soviet ambassador to the GDR, Mikhail Pervukhin, sets out three different measures to stop the tide of refugees from the GDR and East Berlin: limited access for GDR citizens to East and West Berlin, increased security on the border around Berlin and restrictions on the freedom of movement between East and West Berlin (for more see Hope Harrison 1993). Letter from Ambassador Pervukhin to Foreign Minister Gromyko sent to the Central Committee, 4 Juli 1961
    • 1961

      5 July

      The number of unemployed in West Germany has gone below the "100,000 level" for the first time; the unemployment figure hits an all-time low of just 0.5 percent. The Federal Labour Institute in Nuremberg reports that there are over 500,000 jobs available as compared with 99,203 job seekers.
    • 1961

      5 July

      The newspaper "Frankfurter Rundschau" comments on the quarrel between West German Chancellor Adenauer (CDU) and parliamentary speaker Gerstenmaier (CDU) over the latter's speech to the Bundestag on 30 June: more
    • 1961

      6 July

      In its 18th session, the GDR Volkskammer passes the "German Peace Plan" initiated by State Council Chairman Walter Ulbricht. more
    • 1961

      6 July

      In Bonn, Federal Ministers Ernst Lemmer and Dr. Johann Baptist Gradl present the 3rd Report of the Research Advisory Board for Issues of German Reunification. more
    • 1961

      7 July

      The SED Politburo decides that the East Berlin head of police must issue an order banning the Protestant church congress, which is to take place from 19 to 23 July in West and East Berlin, from being staged in East Berlin. more
    • 1961

      7 July

      "Neues Deutschland" reports that "essential questions regarding the nation" have been debated at meeting of "over 6,000 Party activists from the capital of the GDR" in the Werner Seelenbinder Hall in East Berlin. Paul Verner, a Politburo candidate and 1st Secretary of the Berlin District Administration, speaks on the subject of the butter supply. He says that "we are capable of giving our population, including workers from outlying areas who work in the capital, at least one kilogram of butter per person per month." more
    • 1961

      8 July

      In a speech to graduates from the Soviet military academy, Soviet party chief Nikita Khrushchev appeals to the Western Powers to begin negotiations on a German peace treaty and reiterates that otherwise the Soviet Union is determined to solve the Berlin question unilaterally. As a counter-measure to President Kennedy's demands for an increase in the American defence budget, Khrushchev announces that the Soviet defence budget will be raised by 3.144 billion roubles (around 14 billion marks or 3.48 billion dollars) and that the reduction of Soviet troop numbers planned for 1961 will be postponed.
    • 1961

      8 July

      In Cape Cod, US President John F. Kennedy discusses the situation as summarised in the Acheson Report with his closest military and political advisers. The basic thrust is as follows: the USA is too weak militarily in Europe to carry out conventional land warfare. If the Soviet Union were to block access routes to Berlin, NATO would have a hard time countering this with conventional means. Determined "to have more choice than just that between humiliation and a total nuclear war," Kennedy asks Secretary of Defence McNamara for an assessment of military strength and for suggestions.
    • 1961

      8 July

      The newspaper "Tagesspiegel" reports that the SPD's candidate for the West German chancellorship, Willy Brandt, considers it a "thought well worth considering" to hold a conference on a peace treaty for the whole of Germany attended by all 52 war opponents of Germany. more
    • 1961

      9 July

      The main organ of the SED, "Neues Deutschland", publishes an order issued the previous day by the East Berlin chief of police, Major-General Fritz Eickemeier, which follows the resolution by the SED Politburo of 7 July: "In the interest of preserving law and order and securing peace, the Protestant Church Congress is banned in the capital of the GDR (democratic Berlin). more
    • 1961

      9 July

      The West German ambassador to Moscow, Hans Kroll, describes in his diary the political atmosphere in Moscow. "The Soviet press and Soviet radio are continuing their war of nerves on the Berlin issue. The enormous increase in the number of refugees has obviously made not only Pankow nervous, but the Kremlin as well. more
    • 1961

      10 July

      The Berlin provost, Heinrich Grüber, writes an open letter to the East Berlin police chief, Eickemeyer, protesting against the ban on holding the Church Congress in East Berlin. more
    • 1961

      11 July

      The SED deliberates on the protests against the ban on holding the Protestant Church Congress in East Berlin and decides not to answer the open letter by the provost of Berlin, Heinrich Grüber. – Another topic is the backlog in milk deliveries that has occurred in some districts in the GDR. more
    • 1961

      11 July

      The committee of the German Protestant Church Congress acknowledges the ban on holding the Church Congress in East Berlin, but rejects the reasons given for it. The committee asks congregations in both parts of Germany to remember the church in their intercessions in all services on Sunday, 23 July, keeping in mind the promise taken from the Congress motto: "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world."
    • 1961

      11 July

      The CDU federal chairmanship in Bonn is debating election preparations and the international situation. Following its meeting, it states, among other things: "Together with our allies, we oppose any threat to Berlin and any restriction on its rights. We insist on the right to self-determination for the entire German people."
    • 1961

      12 July

      In a note written in response to a Soviet memorandum of 17 February 1961, the West German government states that a peace treaty with a universally recognised government founded on the right to self-determination of the German people would solve all problems regarding Germany. It says that the German question raised by the Soviet government can be resolved when Berlin can again fulfil its natural function as the capital of Germany.
    • 1961

      12 July

      West German Chancellor Dr. Konrad Adenauer und Willy Brandt, Ruling Mayor of Berlin
      West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer visits West Berlin and meets with the West Berlin Senate for talks. The Ruling Mayor, Willy Brandt, notes that the CDU West German government and the SPD/CDU Senate are agreed on five points that form the basis of past and future policies on Berlin by the Bonn administration: more
    • 1961

      12 July

      The newspaper "Tagesspiegel" quotes a regulation published the previous day in "Neues Deutschland" "that prohibits commuters who work in West Berlin from buying luxury consumer goods in East Berlins. more
    • 1961

      12 July

      In a television address, French President Charles de Gaulle accuses Soviet Party leader Nikita Khrushchev of unsettling world peace with his demands: "But if someone makes it clear with much sabre-rattling that he intends to do as he wants with Berlin, as if the three major powers there were not allowed to regulate their own affairs, he already takes responsibility in advance for the serious consequences that could result."
    • 1961

      12 July

      In a commentary in the news magazine "Spiegel", Rudolf Augstein, writing under the pseudonym Jens Daniel, accuses the French president of helping to "lose Berlin for the West" with his policy of unwillingness to negotiate. Once more, he writes, it is not a matter of "being unrelenting" and "keeping one's nerve". more
    • 1961

      12 July

      In an article about the recently rejected offer by the West German government to send food to the GDR, the "Spiegel" blames the East German supply crisis not on the over-hasty collectivisation of agriculture, but on the excess purchasing power of the East German population. more
    • 1961

      13 July

      Report by the West German police: "The situation on the sector and zone border remains unchanged. On 13.7.1961, between 3.25 p.m. and 4.10 p.m., People's Police officers and AZKW staff (East German customs authority, Ed.) carried out stricter inspections on pedestrians and motor vehicle drivers at the Wollankstrasse sector border crossing. – Inter-zone traffic was normal."
    • 1961

      13 July

      Visit to Berlin by West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer (at the microphone) on 12 and 13 July 1961 (arrival at Tempelhof Airport); on the right is the Minister for All-German Affairs, Ernst Lemmer
      At a press conference marking the conclusion of his two-day visit to Berlin, West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer voices concern about the tide of refugees from the GDR: "Panic seems to have broken out in the Zone, and obviously pressure has been increased on people there, strengthening the feeling: now we want to get to freedom as quickly as possible. more
    • 1961

      14 July

      Between 14 July, 8 a.m. and 15 July 1961, 8 a.m., 680 refugees are registered at the Marienfelde Reception Centre in West Berlin.
    • 1961

      14 July

      At the reception centre, a 24-year-old machine fitter from Thuringia talks about his motives for escaping: "Differences of opinion with the Soviet occupying power. I told members of the occupying forces that they should go home and take Ulbricht with them. Someone from the SED heard me and threatened that I soon wouldn't have the opportunity to make such statements in public any more. So I thought it best to disappear from the Zone."
    • 1961

      14 July

      A report in the newspaper "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" about the growing tide of refugees and the Marienfelde Reception Centre concludes by saying that Marienfelde has become a "catchword in the Zone". It says a joke is making the rounds "that the first words children in East Germany learnt were: Mummy, Daddy and Marienfelde."
    • 1961

      14 July

      At a diplomatic reception in Washington, the Soviet ambassador to Washington, Mikhail Menshikov, expresses his conviction that, if forced to take a stand, the American people would not fight for Berlin.
    • 1961

      15 July

      Between 15 July 1961, 8 a.m. and 16 July 1961, 8 a.m., 675 refugees are registered at the Marienfelde Reception Centre in West Berlin.
    • 1961

      15 July

      Statement by a 35-year-old points cleaner, married, from Ascherleben, recorded at the Marienfelde Reception Centre: more
    • 1961

      15 July

      Walter Ulbricht receives a note regarding on Soviet concerns as expressed to Paul Verner and Erich Honecker during a recent visit to Moscow. The Soviet comrades, it says, were still holding "certain discussions about the peace treaty, especially the West Berlin issue" and did not know yet "how all these questions should be practically resolved". It says that a member of the Central Committee of the CPSU responsible for the German question, Karpin, has stated that "everything must thought through carefully once more from all angles". Special information for Comrade Ulbricht, 15 July 1961 (in German)
    • 1961

      15 July

      In West Germany, a musical hit by Bully Buhlan about reunification makes the headlines. The song with the refrain "I have often dreamt of being reunited; even if the time seems far off, we'll be reunited one day" meets with criticism from RIAS.


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    • 1961

      16 July

      The start of the summer holidays in West Berlin: the newspaper "Berliner Morgenpost" reports that more than 35,000 holidaymakers have left West Berlin by car, plane or train. At the Dreilinden checkpoint alone, it says, 4,772 cars, 141 coaches and 189 motorcycles were counted the previous day, all on the way to West Germany. The paper says that, despite this, there was no waiting at the checkpoint.
    • 1961

      16 July

      West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer launches the CDU's election campaign at the Westfalenhalle in Dortmund with scathing attacks on the SPD and FDP. Adenauer uses the picture of a snake to describe the SPD's demand for a cross-party foreign policy: even if a snake has shed its old skin, he says, "the new skin [still houses] the same animal".
    • 1961

      16 July

      Speaking with US television broadcaster CBS, the American journalist Walter Lippmann relates how he asked Nikita Khrushchev in an interview why he was in such a rush to bring about a peace treaty to help resolve the German question before the end of the year. Lippmann quotes Khrushchev's answer thus: "I am in such a hurry because I would like to have the borders of Germany, the status of Berlin and the boundary line between the two German states established in a treaty before Hitler's generals in West Germany get the atom bomb. more
    • 1961

      17 July

      Between 16 July 1961, 8 a.m. and 18 July 1961, 8 a.m., 3,582 refugees are registered at the Marienfelde Reception Centre in West Berlin. more
    • 1961

      17 July

      As the tide of refugees grows, the exchange rate for East German marks in West Berlin currency exchanges sinks; 4.75 East German marks are now worth one West German mark.
    • 1961

      17 July

      Report by the West Berlin police: "The general situation on the sector and zone border remains unchanged. (…) more
    • 1961

      17 July

      East Berlin: In an extraordinary meeting, the SED Politburo decides to enter into negotiations with Bonn about the West German government's offer to deliver 5,000 tonnes of butter to the GDR. Payment is to be made in deliveries of diesel oil, and perhaps also with deliveries of polio vaccine – if possible in the second half of 1962.
    • 1961

      17 July

      The bilateral American-Soviet disarmament talks that took place in Washington from 19 to 30 June are continued in Moscow between John McCloy and Valerian A. Sorin. During a stop-off in Frankfurt am Main, McCloy has said that his job does not include making suggestions on the Germany question.
    • 1961

      17 July

      In Moscow, the United States, Great Britain and France hand over their responses to the Soviet memorandum on Germany of 4 June 1961. more
    • 1961

      18 July

      Between 18 July 1961, 8 a.m. and 19 July 1961, 8 a.m., 1,345 refugees are registered at the Marienfelde Reception Centre in West Berlin.
    • 1961

      18 July

      Statement by a 35-year-old tractor driver, married, from the district of Anklam, recorded at the Marienfelde Reception Centre: "I couldn't stand up any more to the pressure that was exerted on me to join the SED and the Combat Group. The bad pay on the collective farm and the bad food supply also played a role. And I also thought about the way my children were being brought up; I try to bring them up in the Christian faith. And that was barely possible because of the school and kindergarten."
    • 1961

      18 July

      East Berlin: Alarmed by the mass exodus, the SED Politburo holds an eight-hour meeting to discuss, among other things, the "West German campaign regarding the tide of refugees from the GDR". It decides to set up a working team to examine "how this tide of refugees can be combated using legal means". more
    • 1961

      19 July

      Between 19 July 1961, 8 a.m. and 20 July 1961, 8 a.m., 1,095 refugees are registered at the Marienfelde Reception Centre in West Berlin. more
    • 1961

      19 July

      "Neues Deutschland" claims that West Germany is behind the exodus, saying it wants "to steal capable people from our republic". more
    • 1961

      19 July

      The CDU chairman in Hamburg, Blumenfeld, voices the fear that the signing of a separate peace treaty between the GDR and the Soviet Union could bring on the danger of a second "17th of June". He says that the rapid jump in the number of refugees shows that the people of the GDR are afraid of a final and permanent division. According to Blumenfeld, the people on the other side of the zone border "can then do no more than revolt or give up."
    • 1961

      19 July

      In West Berlin, the 10th Protestant Church Congress is opened. Despite the ban on the church congress in East Berlin, vast numbers of people flock to the three churches in the eastern half of the city in which rogation services are taking place. Many churches have to close their doors before the services start because they are overfilled. more
    • 1961

      19 July

      At a press conference in Washington, US President John F. Kennedy stresses the fact that the Western Allies' right to be in Berlin is a result of the war and has been confirmed in many agreements signed jointly with the Soviet Union. more
    • 1961

      20 July

      Between 20 July 1961, 8 a.m. and 21 July 1961, 8 a.m., 794 refugees are registered at the Marienfelde Reception Centre in West Berlin. In the first 20 days of the month, the average number of refugees arriving daily in Marienfelde has doubled in comparison with the previous month.


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    • 1961

      20 July

      According to a Gallup poll on President Kennedy's Berlin policy, carried out in the USA from 12 to 19 July, 85 percent of those surveyed say they are ready to risk a war to have US troops stay in the divided city. more
    • 1961

      21 July

      Between 21 July 1961, 8 a.m. and 22 July 1961, 8 a.m., 799 refugees are registered at the Marienfelde Reception Centre in West Berlin.
    • 1961

      21 July

      The "Frankfurter Allgemeine" newspaper reports that some 1,000 refugees are now being flown from West Berlin to West Germany every day to avoid a "refugee build-up" in the Western sectors. more
    • 1961

      21 July

      Under the headline "What is national self-determination?", Willi Siebenmorgen writes in "Neues Deutschland" about "the web of lies promulgated by the Bonn militarists, and the clear right of our people to a peace treaty." more
    • 1961

      21 July

      Moscow: In the Soviet press, the American defence efforts give rise for the first time to headlines such as "West Berlin, a new Sarajevo".
    • 1961

      22 July

      Between 22 July 1961, 8 a.m. and 24 July 1961, 8 a.m., 2,515 refugees are registered at the Marienfelde Reception Centre in West Berlin.
    • 1961

      22 July

      In a radio address, the West German Minister for All-German Affairs, Ernst Lemmer, comments on the exodus from the GDR: "Those in power in East Berlin are solely to blame for the embarrassing constant drain of people. They are failing more than ever to create attractive living conditions. more
    • 1961

      23 July

      Mens' hour at the "Waldbühne" in West Berlin during the 10th Protestant Church Congress from 19 - 23 July 1961
      The 10th German Protestant Church Congress wraps up with a solemn concluding ceremony in the Olympic Stadium attended by more than 60,000 Christians. "A shadow lay over us," says the theological chariman of the Church Congress committee, Reverend Heinrich Giesen. "Very many of our brothers were missing!"
    • 1961

      24 July

      Between 24 July 1961, 8 a.m. and 25 July 1961, 8 a.m., 706 refugees are registered at the Marienfelde Reception Centre in West Berlin.
    • 1961

      24 July

      Statement by a 29-year-old engineer, married, from Babelsberg, Potsdam, recorded at the Marienfelde Reception Centre: more
    • 1961

      24 July

      East Berlin: In an extraordinary meeting, the SED Politburo confirms the tenor of the speech that Walter Ulbricht intends to deliver in Moscow at the conference of the Political Advisory Committee of the Warsaw Pact states at the beginning of August. more
    • 1961

      24 July

      The department for security issues in the SED Central Committee, which is headed by Erich Honecker, informs Walter Ulbricht in an "internal memo" that, even to seal off only the western "Außenring" around Berlin, there is a considerable lack of barbed wire, wire mesh, binding wire, staples, wood, and cement posts. SED internal memo, 24 July 1961 (in German)
    • 1961

      24 July

      In Bonn, the West German ambassador to Moscow, Hans Kroll, meets with Chancellor Konrad Adenauer. In his diary, Kroll writes of this meeting: more
    • 1961

      25 July

      Between 25 July 1961, 8 a.m. and 26 July 1961, 8 a.m., 1,046 refugees are registered at the Marienfelde Reception Centre in West Berlin.
    • 1961

      25 July

      In the evening, US President John F. Kennedy delivers a dramatic address on radio and television. He repeats the three essentials of Western policy on Berlin, which had last been emphasised in the final communiqué of the NATO Council conference from 8 to 10 May 1961: the presence of Allied troops in West Berlin, free access to the city and the viability of West Berlin. more
    • 1961

      25 July

      At its regular Tuesday meeting, the SED Politburo discusses, among other things, foreign trade with socialist countries. It resolves to enter immediately into negotiations with the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania in particular with the future aim of importing products from these countries that have up to now been purchased solely from companies in West Germany. more
    • 1961

      26 July

      Between 26 July 1961, 8 a.m. and 27 July 1961, 8 a.m, 973 refugees are registered at the Marienfelde Reception Centre in West Berlin.
    • 1961

      26 July

      West Berlin police report: "On 26.7.1961, between 4 p.m. and 10.15 p.m., three civilians and several Soviet-zone border police carried out random checks on pedestrians crossing the border in both directions at the Berliner Strasse zone border crossing in Hermsdorf. more
    • 1961

      26 July

      The "Tagesspiegel" reports on the harassment of cross-border commuters. It says that a great many tenants living in new apartments in East Berlin have been given notice to leave because they work in West Berlin companies. "In several cases, they were given only ten to 14 days to leave. more
    • 1961

      26 July

      In the East Berlin newspaper "Berliner Zeitung", Gerhard Eisler, the deputy chairman of the state broadcasting committee, writes a "Letter to a Poached Worker": "People who now defect from the German Democratic Republic to the camp of the West German militarists and big capitalists are committing as serious a crime as those who in their confusion followed the lures of the Nazi party."
    • 1961

      26 July

      Moscow: In a letter to Foreign Minister Gromyko, the Soviet ambassador to the GDR, Mikhail Pervuchin, outlines the main points of the speech that Walter Ulbricht intends to deliver to the Political Advisory Committee of the Warsaw Pact states in Moscow in early August. more
    • 1961

      26 July

      London: The British government welcomes yesterday’s statement by US President John F. Kennedy; it says it shares the willingness to negotiate hinted at in the speech, "with the proviso that the Soviet government is willing to do this on a sensible basis." It says that any further steps by Great Britain would be on the agenda for discussion at the foreign ministers’ conference in Paris at the end of next week. It adds that the British measures will "not necessarily be identical with those of President Kennedy" – which can be understood as a cautious rejection of any participation in military measures – but that "they will have the same goal."
    • 1961

      26 July

      Bonn: West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, 85 years old, travels to his Villa Collina in Cadenabbia on Lake Como for a 14-day holiday to recuperate before the election campaign gets into full swing on 15 August.
    • 1961

      27 July

      Between 27 July 1961, 8 a.m. and 28 July 8 a.m., 1,078 refugees are registered at the Marienfelde Reception Centre in West Berlin.
    • 1961

      27 July

      In an article for the magazine "Aussenpolitik", Defence Minister Franz Josef Strauss defends the policy of deterrence. Strauss writes: "For as long as we can convince the Soviets that we have the means – and the determination to use these means – that (…) will pose an incalculable danger to the Soviets themselves (…) in a true armed conflict, we can live in safety."
    • 1961

      27 July

      The Soviet prime minister, Nikita Khrushchev, has invited President Kennedy’s special envoy for disarmament issues, John McCloy, to his holiday residence in Sochi in the Crimea for the 26 and 27 July. On the second day, as McCloy reports, the storm breaks loose. Khrushchev is beside himself with rage because of Kennedy’s speech of 25 July; he sees it as the "preliminary step towards a declaration of war". In his talks with McCloy, he threatens a thermo-nuclear war and to drop a 100-megaton super-bomb on America. more
    • 1961

      28 July

      Between 28 July 1961, 8 a.m. and 29 July 1961, 8 a.m., 1,030 refugees are registered at the Marienfelde Reception Centre in West Berlin.
    • 1961

      28 July

      Refugee statement from a 64-year-old bricklayer, married, recorded at the Marienfelde Reception Centre: more
    • 1961

      28 July

      An extraordinary three-hour meeting of the SED Politburo: The economy plan for 1962 is discussed. According to the Politburo, the plan will help bolster the peace treaty, whose signing, it says, must take place amid as few economic disruptions as possible. This means "that the 1962 plan must aim at being trouble-free". In all factories and businesses, the Party organisations and economic managers are to work out exactly "how production in every company and in every district will function when economic relations are broken off by West Germany. That is, a precise idea is needed in every district and company of what must happen on the day when trade is broken off." more
    • 1961

      28 July

      Washington: The Senate unanimously approves the increased defence measures announced by President Kennedy in his speech on 25 July.
    • 1961

      29 July

      In East Berlin, a propaganda trial of four men and a woman for "human trafficking" and "poaching" begins. In front of the courtroom, photos and photocopies of the confessions and so-called "recruitment letters" are shown. In Suhl, a defendant is sentenced to one-and-a-half years in prison for the "offence of poaching"; in Königs Wusterhausen another man is sentenced to seven months’ imprisonment.
    • 1961

      29 July

      In the "Frankfurter Rundschau", a newspaper with a critical stance towards the government, Conrad Ahlers writes that the outcome of the Berlin crisis is becoming a test case for whether the alliance between West Germany and the West can make good on its promises and whether American and German interests really do have much in common. more
    • 1961

      30 July

      Between 29 July 1961, 8 a.m. and 31 July 1961, 8 a.m., 3,707 refugees are registered at the Marienfelde Reception Centre in West Berlin.
    • 1961

      30 July

      In a television interview, the chairman of the United States Committee on Foreign Relations, William Fulbright, espouses the opinion that negotiations on Berlin with the Soviet Union can also cover concessions by the West that would lead to closing off West Berlin as a outlet for the tide of refugees. more
    • 1961

      30 July

      Under the headline "Stop Human Traffickers!", "Neues Deutschland" publishes a "Statement by the GDR government", in which the "Bonn inciters of an atomic war, these extremists of the Western-zone state who are endangering the life of our nation and of entire Europe" are accused of carrying out "increased human trafficking with citizens of the German Democratic Republic". more
    • 1961

      31 July

      Refugees in front of the Marienfelde Reception Centre, 31 July 1961
      In July 1961, altogether 30,444 refugees have been registered at the Marienfelde Reception Centre in West Berlin – as many people as live in Bitterfeld, as the "Berliner Morgenpost" notes. The last time there was such a flood of refugees was in October 1955. Reasons for leaving the GDR as given by 2,810 refugees in July 1961, 31 July 1961 (in German)
    • 1961

      31 July

      The exchange rate for the East German mark reaches the lowest point so far this year at 4.93 East German marks for one West German mark.
    • 1961

      31 July

      In an interview with Mark Wilson, the deputy editor of the London newspaper "Evening Standard", SED chief Walter Ulbricht says there is "only one way left to preserve peace: the borders and national frameworks that were created after the Second World War and have now existed for much more than a decade must be confirmed the revanchist policy is doomed to failure and that any military violation of the GDR’s borders is a violation of international law and the United Nations Charter and can have serious consequences." more
    • 1961

      31 July

      At a press conference in Bonn, Foreign Minister Heinrich von Brentano says, with regard to the conference of foreign ministers that is to take place in Paris at the start of August, that he does not think the Soviet Union should be offered negotiations with concrete proposals.
    • 1961

      31 July

      In Washington, the US Secretary of Defence, Robert McNamara, and the West German Defence Minister, Franz Josef Strauss, agree "that, as well as improving conventional armaments, it is necessary to increase and modernise the nuclear potential of NATO armed forces." Both men are of the opinion that the strategy of deterrence must remain the mainstay of defence.
    • 1961

      31 July

      British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan informs the lower house of his government’s decision to enter membership negotiations with the European Economic Community.
    • 1961

      31 July

      "Neues Deutschland" devotes several pages to reporting on the draft plan for the new programme of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU). According to the plan, the communist society is to be established in the Soviet Union by 1980, by which time there is also to be a surplus of material goods, a production rate double that of the USA, and a 30-36-hour working week.
    • July 1961

      In the month of July 1961, the number of refugees from the GDR and East Berlin has reached 30,415, the highest level since June 1953.
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