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Digital Archive International History Declassified

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Berlin Wall

Documents on the history of the Berlin Wall, beginning with the conditions in Berlin and East Germany following WWII and the history of the wall's construction in 1961, and followed by the 1971 Four Power Negotiations on the status of Berlin, and the final tearing down of the Wall in 1989. See also the End of the Cold War. (Image,  Berlin Wall between Mitte and Kreuzberg, Bundesarchiv, B 145 Bild-F078996-0006)

  • October 30, 1961

    Letter from Ulbricht and the SED CC Delegation to the CPSU 22nd Congress in Moscow to Khrushchev

    Representing the SED CC delegation, Ulbricht writes to Khrushchev requesting a meeting with the CPSU CC presidium, for which he outlines the topics necessary for discussion. Topics include the West Berlin question and the need for an agreement between Western powers and the USSR, and a treaty between the GDR and West Germany to establish territorial sovereignty.

  • January 09, 1962

    East German Ministry of State Security, 'Brief Assessment of the Investigation Results Achieved in 1961 in Work on Crimes of Espionage'

    Assessment by the Stasi of the espionage of the main Western secret services in East Germany based on its investigation of cases of spying in 1961.

  • December 02, 1969

    Transcript of a meeting between the delegations of the PZPR and the SED in Moscow (Excerpt)

    Excerpt from a conversation in which Polish Communist leaders Jozef Cyrankiewicz and Wladyslaw Gomulka remind Walter Ulbricht of how they suggested closing the border between East and West Berlin years before the Berlin Wall was constructed.

  • February 16, 1970

    Memorandum for President Nixon from Kissinger, "Brandt's Eastern Policy"

    A memorandum for President Nixon from National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger summarizing West German Chancellor Willy Brandt's "Ostpolitik" or Eastern Policy, which sought to normalize relations between West Germany and the communist countries.

  • March 10, 1970

    Memorandum for President Nixon from Kissinger, "The Current Status of Brandt's Ostpolitik"

    A memorandum for President Nixon from National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger on the current status of West German Chancellor Willy Brandt's "Ostpolitik" or Eastern Policy, which sought to normalize relations between West Germany and the communist countries.

  • April 05, 1971

    Memorandum for President Nixon from Kissinger, "The Berlin Negotiations - New Guidelines"

    National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger updates President Nixon on the status of the Four Power Berlin negotiations between the Soviet Union, East Germany, West Germany, and the United States.

  • July 21, 1971

    Memorandum for President Nixon from Kissinger, "Berlin Negotiations: The Unresolved Issues"

    National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger updates President Nixon on the status of the Four Power Berlin negotiations between the Soviet Union, East Germany, West Germany, and the United States, focusing on unresolved issues on which the four states were unable to agree.

  • August 13, 1971

    Cable from Ambassador Rush to Kissinger Regarding Four Powers Negotiations on Berlin

    US Ambassador Rush informs Kissinger on the progress of negotiations between the Soviet Union, France, Great Britain, and the United States on the status of Berlin. He reports that negotiations have gone well, aside from difficulties with the British and French ambassadors.

  • August 15, 1971

    Cable from Ambassador Rush to Kissinger Regarding Four Powers Negotiations on Berlin

    US Ambassador Rush informs Kissinger on the progress of negotiations between the Soviet Union, France, Great Britain, and the United States on the status of Berlin.

  • August 18, 1971

    Cable from Secretary Rogers to Ambassador Rush on the Four Powers Negotiations on Berlin

    Alarmed by the speed of the negotiations' progress, Secretary Rogers informs Ambassador Rush (and Henry Kissinger) that "an ad referendum agreement should not be reached at the present time."

  • August 18, 1971

    Cable from Ambassador Rush to Henry Kissinger on the Four Powers Negotiations on Berlin

    US Ambassador Rush recommends to National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger that the negotiations take a "no more than a two week recess" in agreement with the request made by Secretary of State Rogers.

  • August 19, 1971

    Cable from Ambassador Rush to Henry Kissinger Regarding the Four Powers Negotiations on Berlin

    Rush updates National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger on the progress of the Four Powers Negotiations on Berlin, informing him that the "bureaucrats [in the State Department] have been foiled" and an agreement has been completed and "it contains virtually everything we hoped to get under our maximum demands."

  • June 12, 1987

    Speech by President Ronald Reagan at the Brandenburg Gate, West Berlin, 'Remarks on East-West Relations'

    Ronald Reagan's famous speech in which he advises Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall!"

  • November 06, 1989

    Conversation on GDR-FRG Economic Cooperation between Alexander Schalck and Egon Krenz

    Note of conversation between East German leader Alexander Schalck and West German Minister of the Chancellery Rudolf Seiters on future economic cooperation between the two German states. The discussion makes clear that the East German economy will collapse without immediate and massive West German aid.

  • November 07, 1989

    Minutes No. 49 of the Meeting of the SED Politburo

    Minutes No. 49 of the Meeting of the SED Politburo concerning situation regarding GDR citizens leaving the country. The Politburo decides a new travel law will be developed in order to placate some of the popular demands.

  • November 07, 1989

    Information Note from the Romanian Embassy in Berlin to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

    Note from the Romanian Embassy in Berlin to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding continuing protests in the streets, the proposal to allow freedom to travel to foreign countries, the demands by the population for the removal of the Politburo and all ministers, and the movement towards the economic integration of the GDR with the FRG.

  • November 09, 1989

    Material for the Session/For Circulation in the Council of Ministers, Draft: Temporary Transition Rules for Travel and Permanent Exit from the GDR, Berlin

    Draft resolution and press release announcing new temporary transition rules for travel abroad and permanent exits from East Germany.

  • November 09, 1989

    Transcript of the Tenth Session of the SED Central Committee from 3:47 - 3:55 p.m.

    Transcript of the Tenth Session of the SED Central Committee regarding the issue of new temporary travel regulations.

  • November 09, 1989

    Günter Schabowski’s Press Conference in the GDR International Press Center 6:53 - 7:01 p.m.

    Schabowski announces new travel regulations allowing permanent exit for East German citizens at all border crossing effective "immediately, without delay."

  • November 09, 1989

    Conversation between Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Solidarity Leader Lech Walesa

    In this extraordinary conversation, Solidarity’s leader fears the collapse of the Wall would distract West Germany’s attention - and money - to the GDR, at the time when Poland, the trail-blazer to the post-communist era in Eastern Europe, desperately needed both. "Events are moving too fast," Walesa said, and only hours later, the Wall fell, and Kohl had to cut his Poland visit short to scramble back to Berlin, thus proving Walesa’s fear correct.