Events during the crisis

The building of the Berlin Wall

13 August 1961

East German soldiers closing the border of East and West Berlin
East German soldiers closing the border

Khrushchev and East German leader, Walter Ulbricht ordered the closure of the border between East and West Berlin.

East German police and soldiers sealed the most frequently used border crossings between East and West Berlin with barbed wire.

17 August 1961

The Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall

Soviet troops began to replace the wire with a concrete wall.

It not only ran through the centre of Berlin, but also wrapped around West Berlin, cutting it off from East Germany.

The Berlin Wall had watch-towers, anti-tank devices, ditches, barbed wire, guard dogs, powerful searchlights and minefields to prevent escapes.

The only legal way across the border was through checkpoints.

The video below shows a 1961 report by Peter Woods from Berlin on witnessing the boundary between East and West being sealed with a concrete wall.