In April 1961, 19,803 people flee from the GDR. Of these, 49.4 percent are young people under the age of 25.
3 April: The GDR news agency ADN and the SED’s main mouthpiece, "Neues Deutschland", report on an allegedly growing influx of people moving from West Germany to the GDR. Exact numbers are not given.
In fact, it is the number of GDR refugees leaving for West Berlin via East Berlin that shoots up during the Easter holiday: more than 4,000 GDR refugees are registered at the Marienfelde Reception Centre in West Berlin. On 8 April, the West German Ministry for All-German Affairs issues a statement on the "West-East Migration" and the increase in the tide of refugees from the GDR on RIAS radio.
4-6 April: During a meeting in Washington, British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan and US President Kennedy both voice fears that a serious Berlin crisis can be expected within the year. There are no practicable military counter-measures in place to respond to a blockade of access routes to Berlin, if this were to happen.
9 April: Dean Acheson, US President Kennedy’s special adviser, discusses future NATO policy with West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, particularly with regard to the alliance’s nuclear arsenal. The next day, speaking to American journalists, the Chancellor expresses criticism of the present attitude of the USA to NATO: "For some time now, I have been very concerned about the way NATO is developing. Particularly because there is no leadership." He says the fact that the Americans are hoping for disarmament negotiations with the Soviet Union should not result in any slackening of efforts to improve NATO’s nuclear tactics and strategy.
10 April: A 36-year-old married labourer from the GDR who has fled to the West talks about the way his family was harassed just for their Catholic faith – and because he travelled to West Berlin in 1960 for the anniversary of his mother-in-law’s death.
11 April: The District Court in Jerusalem begins to try the former SS-Obersturmbannführer Adolf Eichmann, one of the people most responsible for the deportation of European Jews to Nazi extermination camps. The Israeli secret service had tracked down Eichmann in Argentina in May 1960, abducted him and taken him to Israel. On 11 December 1961, Eichmann is condemned to death and hanged on 31 May 1962.
12 April: The Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin carries out the first manned space flight. As with the successful launch of the first earth satellite, "Sputnik", in October 1957, Gagarin’s flight is exploited for propaganda purposes and celebrated as a proof of the "legitimate superiority of communism" and as "the greatest triumph for Soviet science".
12 April: The GDR parliament (Volkskammer) passes a "Code of Labour Laws" based on the Soviet model. All "working people" are promised the right to a job. But the Code provokes disappointment in the GDR: the number of working hours per week remains unchanged, the right to strike is not mentioned, and, with its numerous restrictions, the "right to work" turns out to be a statutory compulsion to work.
The GDR labour code reminds the chairman of the West German Confederation of Trade Unions, Willi Richter, of the "National Labour Regulation Law" of 1934: "Just as this law gave the manager the position of a company leader according to the ‘Fuhrer Principle’, the Soviet Zone’s labour code describes the company head as a ‘representative of the worker-and-peasant power’, who leads the company ‘according to the principle of single leadership’. In this way, the communists, like the Nazis, have implemented the structure of their totalitarian state at the company level."
12/13 April: West German Chancellor Adenauer meets US President Kennedy in Washington for talks. In a final communiqué, the two leaders reaffirm their position that "only through the application of the principle of self-determination can a just and enduring solution be found for the problem of Germany including Berlin. They renewed their pledge to preserve the freedom of the people of West Berlin pending the reunification of Germany in peace and freedom and the restoration of Berlin as the capital of a reunified country."
Kennedy assures Adenauer that the United States will hit back with all military means available, including nuclear weapons, if NATO, West Germany or West Berlin come under attack.
15 April: The attempted invasion by Cuban exiles in the Bay of Pigs in Cuba fails over the course of a few days. The attack on Castro’s regime has been supported by the CIA and approved by US President Kennedy, and the fiasco deals a heavy blow to the international reputation of the USA.
27 April: Negotiations on trade between the GDR and the USSR for the period 1962 to1965 come to an end: the Soviet Union pledges to deliver more raw materials and food than previously planned and says it will also give the GDR help to bolster its currency – but not the amount desired by the SED. The supply of raw materials to the GDR remains in deficit, investments have to be cut in all economic areas and the objectives of the Seven-Year Plan need to be lowered accordingly.
On May 3, Ulbrich tells top SED leaders that he is in agreement with the results of the negotiations. He asks the head of planning, Bruno Leuschner, to inform the SED Politburo that "illegal emigration will increase and the situation will worsen, because some objectives of the Seven-Year Plan cannot be fulfilled."