(Willy Brandt, 1961 - You'd chain smoke too if you had the Russian Army staring at you all day)
Since next week signals twenty years since the infamous Berlin Wall came down, I thought I would post a few items dealing with Germany during the Post-War years. Talk of reunification had been going on since 1946, with the Russians vehemently opposed to it at every opportunity. There had been showdowns between east and west at various times all the way up to November 9, 1989. Always Berlin was perceived as the flash point in any heating up of the Cold War and life in Berlin was regarded by many as life under a heated microscope.
But before August of 1961 there was no wall separating the two Berlins. Only miles of barbed wire fence and checkpoints and troops.
Willy Brandt had the dubious distinction of being Mayor of West Berlin during this time. It was certainly no easy task.
On March 12, 1961, Brandt sat down to a panel interview on Meet The Press and asked about the situation as it currently was in Berlin.
Stewart Hensely (UPI): “Mister Mayor, Soviet Premier Khruschev a few weeks ago sent a communication to Chancellor Adenauer which he restated the demands on Berlin and Germany. This came after a period of relative quiet. Do you anticipate that this Spring or this Summer we’re going to see another increase in pressure on Berlin to bring a crisis as we had in ’58 and ’59?”
Brandt: “It’s hard of course to predict what will happen, but personally I’m inclined to believe that we will not have a new Berlin crisis within the next few months. But the memorandum indicates that new pressure might come sometime later this year.”
Prophetic words from Brandt, since less than five months later the Russians constructed a vast and inescapable wall, dividing the two Berlins. Frequently referred to as "The Wall of Shame", it stood in mute testimony to just how tenuous peace was. And it stood there for 28 more years.