vintage, nostalgia and memories


June 22, 2013

22 Vintage Photographs Captured Everyday Life Around the Berlin Wall in the 1950s and Early 1960s

After the end of World War II in Europe, what remained of pre-war Germany west of the Oder-Neisse line was divided into four occupation zones, each one controlled by one of the four occupying Allied powers: the United States, the United Kingdom, France and the Soviet Union. The capital of Berlin, as the seat of the Allied Control Council, was similarly subdivided into four sectors despite the city's location, which was fully within the Soviet zone.

Within two years, political divisions increased between the Soviets and the other occupying powers. These included the Soviets' refusal to agree to reconstruction plans making post-war Germany self-sufficient and to a detailed accounting of the industrial plants, goods and infrastructure already removed by the Soviets. Britain, France, the United States and the Benelux countries later met to combine the non-Soviet zones of the country into one zone for reconstruction and to approve the extension of the Marshall Plan.


Once the wall went up in 1961 life for East Berlin began to improve under the communist system. People had excellent healthcare facilities and free public transport. They enjoyed full employment, food and rents. Factory outputs also increased in the 1960s. Many East Germans believed that communism was fairer than capitalist West German. They were proud of their achievements.

However, they lacked some key freedoms including freedom of speech, the ability to vote and they were not allowed to leave East Berlin and travel to the West. This chapter outlines the advantages and disadvantages of the communist system in East Berlin.

A boy stands on a coal scuttle to peer over the wall of a sports stadium in Berlin, 8th January 1951. (Photo by Keystone Features/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Boys bring buckets to stand on for a view over the wall of a sports stadium in Berlin, 8th January 1951. (Photo by Keystone Features/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

West Berlin policemen and East German Volkspolizei face each other across the border in Berlin, circa 1955. (Photo by Three Lions/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Soviet tanks and troops at Checkpoint Charlie, a crossing point in the Berlin Wall between the American and Soviet sectors of the city at the junction of Friedrichstrasse, Zimmerstrasse and Mauerstrasse, February 1961. (Photo by Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

American tanks and troops at Checkpoint Charlie, a crossing point in the Berlin Wall between the American and Soviet sectors of the city at the junction of Friedrichstrasse, Zimmerstrasse and Mauerstrasse, February 1961. (Photo by Express Newspapers/Getty Images)

Two mothers can only wave to their children and grandchildren in the Soviet sector of Berlin from across the Berlin wall, 1961. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

On a day when the Berlin Wall is open, throngs of West Germans wait for friends and relatives to arrive from the Eastern sector, 1960. (Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images)

Families and friends, once neighbours, now stand divided and wave across to each other over the Berlin wall, 1960. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

Two little girls in a West German street chat with their grandparents in the window of their home in the eastern zone, separated only by a barbed wire barricade, 14th August 1961. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

A citizen of East Berlin peers through barbed wire at a West Berliner over the Berlin Wall, Berlin, Germany, 1960s. The mass immigration of Germans from Communist Berlin to Western Berlin inspired East Germany military leader Erich Honeker to construct the blockade, a barricade of concrete walls, mine fields and guard posts that stretched for 100 miles. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

A woman is lowered from a window in Bernauer Strasse on a rope to escape into the western sector of Berlin after the post-war division of the city, 10th September 1961. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

Soldiers building the Berlin Wall as instructed by the East German authorities, in order to strengthen the existing barriers dividing East and West Berlin, 1961. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

Posters of Nikita Khrushchev, Walter Ulbricht, Wilhelm Pieck and the East German Premier Otto Grotewohl on an East Berlin Wall, 28th August 1961. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

Russian soldiers leaving the British sector march back into the East Sector, after laying wreaths on the Soviet monument in West Berlin on the 43rd anniversary of the Russian Revolution, 7th November 1960. The Brandenburg Gate is on the right. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

Soldiers outside the entrance to Berlin's Potsdamer Platz underground station next to a section of the Berlin Wall, circa 1961. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)

East German troops and police seal off the frontier between East and West Berlin with barbed-wire to control the flow of refugees, 15th August 1961. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

Walter Ulbricht (1893–1973) first Secretary of the Communist Party of East Germany and deputy Premier of the German Democratic Republic. He is reviewing workers, known as “Industry Combat Groups” who are building the Berlin Wall. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

East German military personnel supervising construction of the Berlin Wall, August 1961. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)

A tear gas grenade explodes next to an East German armoured car during riots on the first anniversary of the building of the Berlin Wall, circa 1960. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

Dieter and Monika Marotz of Bernauerstrasse, Berlin, wave to relatives after their wedding, 8th September 1961. The newlyweds live in the western sector of Berlin, while their relatives living on the same street are in the Eastern sector and unable to attend the ceremony. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Relatives of newlyweds Dieter and Monika Marotz of Bernauerstrasse, Berlin, wave to the couple after their wedding, 8th September 1961. Although the Marotz's and their relatives live in the same street, their houses are in the western and eastern sectors, respectively, of the divided city, leaving them unable to be at the ceremony together. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Members of the Volkspolizei, the East German national police, check an elderly man's papers at the Berlin Wall, 11th September 1961. Only those whose houses are adjacent to the wall are allowed within 100 meters of it. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)



1 comment:

  1. It was Walter Ulbricht who decided to built the Wall, not Honecker.

    ReplyDelete


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