50 years ago this month, starting on August 13th, the infamous Berlin Wall was constructed; it would stand until November 9, 1989. Scores of books and articles have been published giving details of the Berlin Wall, and there will be many moments of personal recollection and public commemoration in Berlin over the next weeks.
Readers of the blog can find a wealth of information about construction and eventual destruction of the Berlin Wall, so there is no need to go into details here. But, what I would like to do is share below representative and personal photographs of the Berlin Wall in 1984, when the Wall seemed to have reached its technical peak.
I first saw the Berlin Wall in August 1967,when I arrived on assignment with the U.S. Air Force. I stayed until November 1968 but, unfortunately, I did not have a camera with me. I borrowed one before leaving and took this shot of the Wall in the south-west part of West Berlin facing into the DDR.
I saw the Wall again in 1972, when I was a graduate student living in Munich and hitch-hiked a few time there, but again, I did not have a camera with me.
In 1984, I traveled to the West Berlin to do a security-risk review of the RFE/RL monitoring station, which was located in one of Berlin's outlying districts. The monitoring stations was primarily there to monitor and record the strength of the Radio Free Europe broadcast signal to Poland. While I was there this time, I did have a camera, and below are some of the photographs I took of the Berlin Wall.
I would like to share these photos that I took, because many of the readers of this blog did not experience the Berlin Wall in the Cold War. I hope that my small display of photographs will give them a feeling of what it was like in 1984 to stand in front of a wall that divided Berlin in West and East:
Here is a short excerpt from the 1964 film about Radio Free Europe that shows then RFE Berlin Bureau Chief Bill Mahoney standing in front of the "Berlin Wall of Shame" the day before President John F. Kennedy made his famous speech:
For an interesting new background study of the Berlin Wall, see e-Dossier No. 23, - New Evidence on the Building of the Berlin Wall, by Hope M. Harrison, Cold War International History Project.
Former RFE News Director Gene Mater was in Munich when the Wall was built and flew to Berlin during the construction phase. He recently gave a very interesting interview about the Wall to the Voice of American that was shown on the VOA television channel and can be viewed here: