The Berlin Wall fell on November 9, 1989, twenty-five years ago this month, but the first attempts to breach it came immediately after it went up, just past midnight on August 13, 1961. The East German regime had been secretly stockpiling barbed wire and wooden sawhorses, which the police, who learned of their mission only that night, hastily assembled into a barrier. For many Berliners, the first sign that a historic turn had been taken was when the U-Bahn, the city’s subway, stopped running on certain routes, leaving late-night passengers to walk home through streets that were suddenly filled with soldiers. As realization set in, so did a sense of panic. By noon the next day, as Ann Tusa recounts in “The Last Division,” people were trying to pull down the barbed wire with their hands. Some succeeded, in scattered places, and a car drove through a section of the Wall to the other side. In the following weeks, the authorities began reinforcing it.
Continue reading this interesting article by Amy Davidson at The New Yorker