The Berlin Wall | A city divided between East and West by the Cold War

Panorama | Berlin

Life in Berlin before the wall.

CHANNEL | BBC Television Service

FIRST BROADCAST | 11 May 1959

DURATION | 15 minutes 11 seconds

FIRSTBROADCAST

1959

Synopsis

It's with surprising ease that Robert Kee steps across the border from East to West Berlin as, before the erection of the wall, the division that split the city was all but invisible. In his report for 'Panorama', Kee hears from young Berliners, a generation facing a crisis that is not of their making. As East Berlin tries to make the best of the situation, West Berlin undergoes extensive reconstruction. But one significant building project is yet to come...

Did you know?

In November 1958, Nikita Khrushchev issued an ultimatum to the Western powers to make West Berlin a 'demilitarised free' city. Although Khrushchev gave them six months to reach an agreement on how this was to be done, the deadline lapsed. As mentioned in Robert Kee's report, at the time this programme was broadcast, the Western powers were in talks in Geneva to find a peaceful solution to the crisis, but to no avail. Further meetings in Paris (May 1960) and Vienna (June 1961) were similarly unsuccessful. In the meantime, the torrent of evacuees from East Germany gave Khrushchev the excuse he needed to put into place his plans to close the East-West Berlin border for good.

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