Full Citation

  • Title Berlin-Wall Idea Told to West in '58
  • Author Rogers, Warren, Jr. From the Herald Tribune Bureau
  • Publication Title New York Herald Tribune (European Edition)
  • Collection New York Herald Tribune (European Edition)
  • Date Wednesday,  Aug. 23, 1961
  • Issue Number 24448
  • Page Number [1]
  • Place of Publication Paris, France
  • Language English
  • Document Type Article
  • Publication Section News
  • Source Library The New York Times Company
Idea Told to West in ’58 Details Learned From Defector By Warren Rogers jr. From the Herald Tribune Bureau 22Th , ¬ r n e ¬ e . e s ¬ n g. e e d f f s. d WASHINGTON, Aug. 22—The Allies knew three years ago that the Communists had cooked up an Operation Chinese Wall” to seal off the flow of refugees from East Berlin. Yet, when it was put into effect Aug. 13, there was no agreed-upon plan of countermeasures ready to meet it. Instead, it took the Allies three days to respond, and then only with a mildly worded protest indicating they did not agree on a reaction to that particular Com¬ munist move until it was actually made. Diplomatic informants said today this is how the Allies knew the Communists had thought of bar¬ ricading the Berlin dividing line: In July, 1958, about the time of the Lebanon crisis, an obscure East German government functionary defected to West Berlin. He had been an official in an East German state government. As a kind of passport to freedom, he brought with him a document — the usual thing in such defections. Like Executed Plan The document became known to American and West German intel¬ ligence agents as the plan for “Operation Chinese Wall.” It re¬ sembled closely the swiftly execut¬ ed plan put into effect two week ends ago by East Germany to block the refugee flow. The plan had three stages: first, the erection of a barbed-wire bar¬ rier along the 23-mile East-West Berlin boundary; second, replacing the barbed-wire with a cement- block fence; finally, the building of what were called “palisades.” The East Germans put up a barb¬ ed-wire fence during the week end of Aug. 13-14. When the Allies did not tear it down, the East Germans began replacing it with cement- block fencing. If the 1958 plan is being followed, a more substantial wall, or palisade, will be next. Mayor Willy Brandt of West Ber¬ lin turned the document over to his intelligence experts in 1958. In typically thorough German fashion, the experts reckoned how much manpower, barbed wire and cement blocks it would take, and whether the East Germans could meet the demand. Their finding, after months of study, was that it could be done. But “Operation Chinese Wall” was not accorded too much weight on two major grounds: 1—The defector had reported that the Russians had vetoed the plan. 2—Mayor Brandt and his top ad¬ visers felt it would violate the American-British - French - Russian occupation agreement (guaranteeing freedom of movement among Ber¬ lin’s sectors), and tiie Allies would never allow that to go unchalleng¬ ed.