EXPANDING THE WALL, 1961 TO 1989

Even after the Wall was built, the SED leadership was not able to completely stop the westward migration. On the contrary, because the Wall separated friends and relatives in Berlin, the pressure on East Berliners and people living on the outskirts of Berlin to flee became even greater. As people kept trying to flee across the border barriers, the SED kept expanding the border fortifications. What began as a single simple wall evolved into a complex, multi-layered border installation designed to prevent escapes.

At first, after every successful escape, border soldiers and pioneer units added temporary, individual barriers behind the border wall. After a border area had been established behind the Wall in East Berlin by 1963, large expanses of this area were also blocked off by a fence. In the mid-sixties the SED tore down buildings to make room for a uniform border strip that would provide border soldiers with an “unobstructed view and clear field of fire.” Over the following years more and more barriers were installed within this “death strip.” In the seventies a second “inner wall” (Hinterlandmauer) was added, blocking off the border strip to East Berlin and the GDR.

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Mauer im August 1961, Chaussee- Ecke Boyenstraße, Aug. 1961

Wall in August 1961, Chausseestrasse at the corner of Boyenstrasse, photo: K. Thamm-Bürger, Berlin Wall Memorial