Background Post-war Germany After the end of World War II in Europe , what remained of pre-war Germany west of the Oder-Neisse line was divided into four occupation zones as per the Potsdam Agreement , each one controlled by one of the four occupying Allied powers: The capital of Berlin, as the seat of the Allied Control Council , was similarly subdivided into four sectors despite the city's location, which was fully within the Soviet zone. These included the Soviets' refusal to agree to reconstruction plans making post-war Germany self-sufficient and to a detailed accounting of the industrial plants, goods and infrastructure already removed by the Soviets.
Communists attempted to disrupt the elections of , preceding large losses therein,  while , Berliners demonstrated for the international airlift to continue.
By a secret treaty, the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs accorded the East German state administrative authority, but not autonomy. The Soviets permeated East German administrative, military and secret police structures and had full control.
Continual economic growth starting in the s fuelled a year " economic miracle " "Wirtschaftswunder". As West Germany's economy grew, and its standard of living steadily improved, many East Germans wanted to move to West Germany.
Eastern Bloc emigration and defection and Eastern Bloc After the Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe at the end of World War II, the majority of those living in the newly acquired areas of the Eastern Bloc aspired to independence and wanted the Soviets to leave. Inner German border and Eastern Bloc emigration and defection By the early s, the Soviet approach to controlling national movement, restricting emigration, was emulated by most of the rest of the Eastern Bloc , including East Germany.
Stalin agreed, calling the situation "intolerable". He advised the East Germans to build up their border defenses, telling them that "The demarcation line between East and West Germany should be considered a border—and not just any border, but a dangerous one The Germans will guard the line of defence with their lives. The border between the Western and Eastern sectors of Berlin, however, remained open, although traffic between the Soviet and the Western sectors was somewhat restricted.
However, following the defection of large numbers of East Germans under this regime, the new East German state legally restricted virtually all travel to the West in Construction of a new railway bypassing West Berlin, the Berlin outer ring , commenced in Following the completion of the railway in , closing the border became a more practical proposition.
See History of rail transport in Germany. Brain drain The emigrants tended to be young and well-educated, leading to the "brain drain" feared by officials in East Germany. Both from the moral standpoint as well as in terms of the interests of the whole German nation, leaving the GDR is an act of political and moral backwardness and depravity.
Those who let themselves be recruited objectively serve West German Reaction and militarism, whether they know it or not. Is it not despicable when for the sake of a few alluring job offers or other false promises about a "guaranteed future" one leaves a country in which the seed for a new and more beautiful life is sprouting, and is already showing the first fruits, for the place that favours a new war and destruction? Is it not an act of political depravity when citizens, whether young people, workers, or members of the intelligentsia, leave and betray what our people have created through common labour in our republic to offer themselves to the American or British secret services or work for the West German factory owners, Junkers , or militarists?
Does not leaving the land of progress for the morass of an historically outdated social order demonstrate political backwardness and blindness? The loss was disproportionately heavy among professionals: Neither of these advantages, however, proved particularly useful. Khrushchev decided to alarm rather than appease the president. He soon revealed his intention of signing the separate peace treaty with East Germany that would abolish allied rights in West Berlin.
One of his intentions was therefore to get whole of the Berlin. However, this action had risks behind it. The risks that we are taking is justified. Khrushchev's assumptions about Kennedy were false.
He showed the unpredictability of US's policy. All though Soviet forces were not on high alert, the plans were nonetheless changed to deal with the consequences of the Kennedy's actions. It was then decided to block the access of the West Berlin from the East. That is when the construction of the wall started.
East German construction workers building the Berlin Wall, 20 November What is beyond dispute, though, is that Ulbricht had pushed for a border closure for quite some time, arguing that East Germany's very existence was at stake. Kennedy's youth and inexperience show as weakness against Khrushchev's brutal, undiplomatic aggression. This feeling of miscalculation and failure is admitted by Kennedy in the U. There Ulbricht signed the order to close the border and erect a wall.
Later, the initial barrier was built up into the Wall proper, the first concrete elements and large blocks being put in place on 17 August. Additionally, chain fences, walls, minefields and other obstacles were installed along the length of East Germany's western border with West Germany proper.
A huge no man's land was cleared to provide a clear line of fire at fleeing refugees. Berlin soon went from being the easiest place to make an unauthorized crossing between East and West Germany to being the most difficult. West Berlin became an isolated exclave in a hostile land. Allied intelligence agencies had hypothesized about a wall to stop the flood of refugees, but the main candidate for its location was around the perimeter of the city.
I see no reason why the Soviet Union should think it is—it is to their advantage in any way to leave there that monument to communist failure.
Thus they concluded that the possibility of a Soviet military conflict over Berlin had decreased. East Germans and others greeted such statements with skepticism, as most of the time, the border was only closed for citizens of East Germany traveling to the West, but not for residents of West Berlin travelling to the East.
Most people believed that the Wall was mainly a means of preventing the citizens of East Germany from entering or fleeing to West Berlin. The interagency intelligence Berlin Watch Committee assessed that this intercept "might be the first step in a plan to close the border. Kennedy until noon on 13 August , while he was vacationing in his yacht off the Kennedy Compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts.
While Kennedy was angry that he had no advance warning, he was relieved that the East Germans and the Soviets had only divided Berlin without taking any action against West Berlin's access to the West. However, he denounced the Berlin Wall, whose erection worsened the relations between the United States and the Soviet Union.
Clay , was appointed by Kennedy as his special advisor and sent to Berlin with ambassadorial rank. He was immensely popular with the residents of West Berlin, and his appointment was an unambiguous sign that Kennedy would not compromise on the status of West Berlin. Clay and Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson arrived at Tempelhof Airport on the afternoon of Saturday, 19 August On 16 August, Kennedy had given the order for them to be reinforced.
Lead elements—arranged in a column of vehicles and trailers carrying 1, men, divided into five march units—left the Helmstedt-Marienborn checkpoint at East German police watched from beside trees next to the autobahn all the way along. Hartel and his brigade of 4, officers and men. By stemming the exodus of people from East Germany, the East German government was able to reassert its control over the country: The economy in the GDR began to grow.
But, the Wall proved a public relations disaster for the communist bloc as a whole. Western powers portrayed it as a symbol of communist tyranny, particularly after East German border guards shot and killed would-be defectors.
Such fatalities were later treated as acts of murder by the reunified Germany.