Full Citation

  • Title Reds Building Wall across Berlin
  • Author Coblentz, Gaston Special to the Herald Tribune
  • Publication Title New York Herald Tribune (European Edition)
  • Collection New York Herald Tribune (European Edition)
  • Date Saturday-Sunday,  August 19, 1961-August 20, 1961
  • Issue Number 24445
  • Page Number [1]
  • Place of Publication Paris, France
  • Language English
  • Document Type Article
  • Publication Section News
  • Source Library The New York Times Company
SEALING THE CITY—East German construction crews erect a five-foot-high United Press International. wall between the Eastern and Western sectors of Berlin under police watch. Beds Building Wall Across Berlin By Gaston Coblentz Special to the Herald Tribune (BERLIN, Aug. 18.—The East German Communists today speed¬ ed the imprisonment of East Ber¬ lin behind a concrete wall similar to the one with which the Nazis sealed off the Warsaw Ghetto in World War II. East Berlin workers began erec¬ tion of the wall at 3 a.m. in Potsdamerplatz, formerly one of the principal crossing points be¬ tween the two halves of Berlin. By noon, the wall had reached a height at which it became im¬ possible to see into East Berlin from the Western side of the square. Conversely, it was impossible for East Berliners to see into West Berlin from the Eastern side. The wall is more than five feet high. It is made of concrete blocks and topped with barbed wire. It is almost complete in the north¬ ern and central districts. When complete, it will wind 25 miles from Reineckendorf at the northern tip of the city, southeast' to Neukoelln. Over it peered Communist troopers, their rifles sometimes hung with flowers from girls of the “Free German Youth.” Along the Teltow Canal, which forms part of the frontier and through which a few East Ber¬ liners have escaped by swimming since the dossing of the border Sunday, the wall took a slightly different form. On this stretch, it consists of six - foot - high concrete pylons strung up to the top with thick strands of barbed wire. The wall took still other forms, depending on the configuration of the long borderline. At Harzer Strasse, for example, the buildings on the Eastern side of the street lie in Communist territory, but the sidewalk in front of them is in West Berlin. Early this morning a group of grim-faced workmen nailed shut every door on the street and then plastered brick walls in place in¬ side the doors. Other workmen put concrete walls in place across the end of the three side streets leading into Harzer Strasse from the north. Several hundred people living in (Continued on Page 2, Col. 1) Berlin Wall (Continued from Page 1) the four-story apartment building along the street were sealed into East Berlin. Watch Windows Communist police and soldiers took up positions on nearby roofs to see nobody tried to jump out of windows. They also took up positions behind the walls in the street. They laid barbed wire in one flower bed at a corner where the occupants might possibly jump six feet from a balcony to freedom. Monday Deadline One member of the Communist People's Police who defected to West Berlin said orders have been issued to complete construction of the wall along the entire border by Monday. The new structure replaces the improvised three-foot-high barbed- wire entanglements strung up earlier this week. About 600 per¬ sons have been able to get through these barricades to West Berlin. The barbed wire also permitted Berliners on opposite sides of the frontier to see each other and in some cases to talk to each other. This is being terminated. The day’s other main develop¬ ment, besides the continued oc¬ cupation of East Berlin by large East German Army and militia units, was a major drive to recruit youths of 18 to 23 into the East German Army. There are 854,440 youths in this age bracket. At 6 a.m., Communist radios throughout East Germany issued a call for them to report to re¬ cruiting stations. Allegiance to Ulbricht The two million members of East Germany’s Communist youth move¬ ment were supposed to gather throughout the Soviet Zone and East Berlin to hear the official call to arms and to pledge “eternal allegiance to Walter Ulbricht,” head of the East German regime. Later in the day, the East Ger¬ man news agency ADN announced that “the number of volunteers is growing hourly.” By 5 p.m. ADN had reported, however, only 369 volunteers. The loathing of a large number of East German youth for military service has been shown by the high number of men under 25 among the thousands of refugees who have entered West Berlin in recent months. Many of them gave aversion to HIGH-RANKING SENTINELS — East German Army officers (above) who now stand guard with enlisted men. Communist military duty as the reason for their flight. Besides the youth mobilization, the Communists also announced the formation of new “defense guard” units to protect East Berlin and East German factories. The fac¬ tories are normally guarded by the “fighting groups” of the workers’ militia, but the latter have been on the streets in force helping the army and police to guard Commu¬ nist party buildings, public utility plants and other vital installations. 573,000 Under Arms Out of a population of 16.2 mil¬ lion, East Germany has 573,000 men under arms. Figures issued July 1 in West Germany set the army at 110,000, the People’s Police at 78,000, the border police at 45,000, alert police at 30.000, and workers’ militia at 300,000. A well-informed source reported wives and children of Soviet sol¬ diers leaving the Iron Curtain border area for home. The sources insisted that it was more than just ordinary summer vacation travel. In West Berlin, Mayor Willy Brandt welcomed the announce¬ ment of United States Vice-Pres¬ ident Lyndon B. Johnson's coming flight to the city. “The population of Berlin will show President Kennedy’s repre¬ sentative how welcome he is in Eerlin and the Soviet Union will rightly understand this trip.” United States Ambassador Walter C. Dowling and French Ambas¬ sador François Seydoux are to meet Mayor Willy Brandt here to¬ morrow. British Ambassador Sir Christo¬ pher Steel visited Berlin yester¬ day, toured East Berlin and met Mr. Brandt. West Berlin Quiet West Berlin was quiet, except for a couple of attacks on small Communist party headquarters. Pickets from the trade unions marched up and down in front of the Communist-run elevated sta¬ tions, urging prospective passengers to take buses or streetcars instead. West Berlin and Allied experts discussed taking over the trains, but it seemed unlikely that they would act in the face of the Com¬ munist threat to blockade the city if they do. The city theater decided not to produce a piece by the late Leftist playwright B’ertolt Brecht. The police closed the West Ber¬ lin offices of the Communist radio network and an East Berlin news¬ paper. A meeting was banned at which the East Berlin radio com¬ mentator Karl Eduard von Schnitz- ler was to have spoken. Earlier in the day, Berliners had heard a broadcast in which he told them that Communist forces were protecting the West as well as the East “because they restrict the dangerous thirst for aggression of some people who still have a deci¬ sive say among you.”