Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Berlin Wall Pictures in 1961-62

In the early 1960s, LIFE magazine’s photographers chronicled the construction of the Berlin Wall and, once it was built, its effect on residents living in the newly divided city. The Soviets and East Germans built the Wall, in part, to stop the flight of Eastern Bloc citizens who frequently used Berlin as the point from which they tried to escape to the West. (By the time the Wall was built, an estimated 20 percent of the East German population had fled.)

A West German man lifts his son to give him a view of the other side of the Berlin Wall in January 1961.

Sunlight shines on the barbed wire and blocks of the Berlin Wall in August 1961.

An East German policeman uses sunlight reflected off a mirror in an attempt to stop photographers from taking pictures in August 1961.

A West Berlin toddler attempts to open a sealed door of a house that has become part of the Berlin Wall in August 1961.

West Berlin children, from left, Peter Friedrich, 5, Katrin Kuhl, 4, and Jurgen Bottcher, 8, build a pretend Berlin Wall in a vacant lot in October 1961.

Three West Berlin police officers jump off a truck as two others run to meet them before starting their shifts on guard duty at the Berlin Wall in October 1961.

An East German teen hides in tall grass, far left, awaiting a chance to jump over the Berlin Wall in October 1961. "Crouching in a tangle of grass in East Berlin," wrote LIFE when this escape sequence originally ran in he magazine, "and hidden except for his face [barely visible on the left side of the pic], a boy waits to make a break over the wall he must surmount to reach the West. Nearby is a patrol of East German Vopos who will shoot to kill if they see him."

West German police look out over the Berlin Wall in order to offer their help to any potential escapees to the West in October 1961.

An East German teen makes his way to the West climbing over the Berlin Wall in October 1961.

A 17-year-old East German orphan successfully slips through the barbed wire over the Berlin Wall to the West after being waved on by West Berlin police in October 1961. "This boy," wrote LIFE, "a 17-year-old orphan, was too dazed to say anything but 'Thanks, thanks,' as he shook the hands that had helped him."

A Lebanese businessman, Edmond Khayat, carries an 85-pound wooden cross to protest the Berlin Wall in October 1961.

A woman, foreground, who had escaped to West Berlin, speaks to her mother — who is still in East Berlin — in August 1961.

Birds on barbed wire strung atop the Berlin Wall in January 1962.

A divided Berlin is seen through barbed wire and rubble in January 1962.

A young West German, Monika Heyne, plays with a ball near the Berlin Wall in January 1962.

An East German guard throws a ball back to a child on the West German side of the Berlin Wall in June 1962.

An East German policeman, known as a Volkspolizei or "people's police" — Vopo for short — walks at Checkpoint Charlie between East and West Berlin in October 1962.

Children chase a ball beside the Berlin Wall in December 1962.

A girl looks at the Berlin Wall through a frosty window which reflects the Wall's silhouetted barbed wire in December 1962.

The Berlin Wall bears the shadowy silhouettes of West Berliners waving to their relatives on the unseen, Eastern side of the Wall in December 1962.

A divided Berlin, seen through a tangle of barbed wire in December 1962.

A West Berlin woman looks out over the Berlin Wall — reflected in her window — in January 1961.

A couple enjoys a West Berlin bar as the Wall looms in the near distance in January 1961.

U.S. forces, in foreground, face East German forces across the newly built Berlin Wall in January 1961.

A crowd of West Berlin residents watches as an East German policeman patrols the Berlin Wall in August 1961.

An East German mason builds up a fresh portion of the Berlin Wall in August 1961.

A crowd of West Berlin youths gather to protest the construction of the Berlin Wall in August 1961.

A hand reaches above the broken glass-covered top of the Berlin Wall in August 1961.

(Photos: Paul Schutzer—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)

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